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The Verve – Urban Hymns (1997)

April 23, 2012

[Album 42/1001]

1997 is often cited as the end of Britpop, with much of the movement’s demise attributed to the Oasis album Be Here Now

Unfortunately for the Gallagher brothers, the follow-up to the massive (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was crushed by expectations and hindered by a general lack of editing.

Later that year, The Verve released the universally acclaimed Urban Hymns.

Upon closer inspection, Urban Hymns is actually quite similar in sound to Be Here Now, albeit a bit more concise and with much less hype.  As both albums celebrate their Quindecennial (15th anniversary!) this year, I’m curious as to how they stack up head-to-head.

The revered Urban Hymns vs. The reviled Be Here Now
Both records feature a handful of album tracks that are strong and a few that go on a bit too long, essentially cancelling each other out.  Therefore, the singles will decide the winner.

Round 1: Mid-album emotional peaks, The Drugs Don’t Work vs. Don’t Go Away
Both great songs, I’ll give the edge to Oasis as it was not only the emotional peak of the album but also Be Here Now‘s finest moment.
The Verve 0, Oasis 1 

Round 2: Late-album singles, Lucky Man vs. All Around the World
No contest, Lucky Man is simply one of the better songs of the ’90s.  Love the guitar lick at the beginning of the verses.
The Verve 1, Oasis 1

Round 3: The epic openers, Bittersweet Symphony vs. D’You Know What I Mean?
Two fantastic opening tracks and fittingly, it comes down to the classic Beatles or Stones argument.  The Verve borrowed a sample from The Rolling Stones’ catalogue and Oasis borrowed a few tricks from the Beatles’ playbook (Fool On The Hill reference, Morse code inspired by Strawberry Fields Forever, backwards vocal track).
In a photo finish, The Verve 2, Oasis 1.

With 15 years passed and managed expectations, Be Here Now isn’t as bad as it seemed at the time; Urban Hymns continues to be worthy of most of the praise it received upon release.

Alas, The Verve received no money whatsoever for Bittersweet Symphony.  How’s this for a confusing lawsuit:

–  Allen Klein, former manager of The Rolling Stones, owns the rights to the 1965 song The Last Time.
 He sues The Verve for using too much of a sample from the Andrew Oldham Orchestra version of The Last Time (note: not the Stones’ original)
– copyright reverts back to his record company, Jagger/Richards get writing credit.
– despite original lyrics and sounding very, very little like the original version of The Last Time, The Verve get nothing.

So if you’re buying individual songs online and you’re hoping to support The Verve, buy any other track from Urban Hymns as they’ll at least get a cut of those!

From → 1990s

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