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The Verve – A Northern Soul (1995)

August 5, 2015

[Album 412/1001]A_Northern_Soul

In my Urban Hymns review, I compared The Verve’s ’97 release to Be Here Now, the oft-maligned album of the same year by their fellow Greater Manchester contemporaries, Oasis.

I was one album late.

While I stand by that review, sonically, the better apples-to-apples comparison would be between Be Here Now and A Northern Soul.

The strengths are similar: both feature big & bold openers and softer & stellar mid-album gems.  I especially like Northern Soul’s On Your Own.

The flaws are also shared: sometimes, the songs are just too long/too loud and missing some of the magic each band is capable of producing.

The big difference: A Northern Soul is the sound of a group on its ascent & Be Here Now was the beginning of a seemingly irreversibly slide from (Morning) glory.

When an ‘up-and-coming’ group puts out a good record, it’s exciting.  Imperfections tend to be attributed to growth, to a group finding their sound.

Unfortunately for the Gallaghers, when a superstar band puts out a good record, it’s met with disappointment.  Imperfections tend to be attributed to a group that has peaked, a group that has lost their way.

For that reason, the legacies of these records, however unjust, will probably be very different.

From → 1990s

  1. Good write up. I hated Be Here Now…then I loved it. I’m curious what I would think today.

    • I reckon somewhere in between – or like me, love some tracks and think some might be more potent if edited!

      • I think I’ll give it another listen this weekend. It’s been years! As always, the B-sides were great.

  2. Loved Be Here Now! I think it’s there best! The lead off single Do Ya Know What I Mean and My Big Mouth are a one two good punch as any….

    • Nice Deke! Agreed about the Be Here Now opener for sure, a 7-minute track is an ambitious way to follow up the monster album that was morning glory

  3. jprobichaud permalink

    I’m still pretty ‘meh’ on “Be here now” but I love “A northern soul”. So many great tracks… On your own, History, This is music… Many purists prefer this one to “Urban hymns” but I like them both, almost equally. I was Richard would get the band back together. “Forth” was good but I think they can do better.

    • I’m wondering if people heard this first, they’d like it more than Urban Hymns? I find that’s why I prefered shaun of the dead to hot fuzz or going the other way, preferred snatch to lock stock!

  4. This is a band that I (almost) missed completely. The only thing I heard (I think) was the one where they sampled the Stones and then that whole debacle happened.

    But if they can be compared to Oasis, a band for which I have no time, then I think I’d rather go listen to Slipknot. 🙂

    Good point about a huge group putting out a ‘good’ record not being good enough.

    • Forgot you have little time for Oasis! You’d probably prefer this vocalist (Richard Ashcroft) but considering this album’s name (A Northern Soul) is a tip of the hat to Noel (songwriter in oasis), perhaps you’re not the target audience!

  5. These are good points, if a bit depressing to contemplate.

  6. Good write-up of this one, Geoff. Although ‘A Storm In Heaven’ is probably the only one I go back to, this one has some pretty brilliant moments. I certainly prefer this one to Urban Hymns (I’ve never been a fan of that album). There’s a wee something about this one that gets me past some of the meandering.

    • My thanks J – it felt like more brilliant moments than consistently excellent for me – but you’re right, with some albums, there’s something special about them that I’m willing to gloss over less brilliant sections!

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  1. 1995 | 1001albumsin10years

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