The Verve – A Northern Soul

I am having having difficultly thinking of posts to write so I was surprised that I have never written anything about The Verve’s second and best album in the 13 years I have been blogging. This album is easily in my top five of all-time it has everything. Regular readers will know that my top albums are from a meaningful, happy or poignant moments of my past, rather than tediously saying I really like this album because it has a really good chord progression in the third verse.

It has often been thought that this album is a replication of taking drugs with the initial euphoria and then leading to the final come down. Looking through other review of the album it seems that The Verve wanted to have an album which encapsulated every major emotion. It was recorded in a remote Welsh studio and started with a two week ecstasy fuelled party and ended up a paranoia ladled wig out. Amazingly this is a powerful and cohesive piece of work that I feel makes A Storm in Heaven seem a little weak.

It opens with A New Decade and This is Music which are probably the most euphoric openers in any album Nick McCabe’s guitar sounds colossal and Richard Ashcroft vocals are possessed and raw. The song A Northern Soul was written about Noel Gallagher after he wandered off in a US tour (citation needed), ” this is a tale of a Northern Soul. Looking to find his way back home.”

The intensity lessens but the emotions rise in History, this is a stand out track from the album which deals with love and loss. Incidentally, hand claps on this track are courtesy of Liam Gallagher

The Verve believed that they had created a classic but as the album didn’t chart very well they split up before the release of the last single from the album. I think I read somewhere that it was at this time that just after the album was released and the band split up Ricard Ashcroft drove his car in circles on his front lawn until the wheels dropped off (citation needed).

The Verve : A Northern Soul

A New Decade
This Is Music
On Your Own
So It Goes
A Northern Soul
Brainstorm Interlude
Drive You Home
History
No Knock On My Door
Life’s An Ocean
Stormy Clouds
(Reprise)

Kingmaker – In the Best Possible Taste (part 2)

The second to last EP from Hull’s Kingmaker in 1995. It arrived as the world was going barmy for the Blur/Oasis. It had more in common with Carter USM with it’s wry view on life than with britpop scene. It was to be their penultimate EP before they called it a day. There was two versions of the EP released with different b-sides, this seemed to be the norm since multiple versions of Tremelo Song by The Charlatans earlier. This EP shows Kingmaker at their most serious and grown up.

Kingmaker : In the Best Possible Taste (part 2) CD1

In The Best Possible Taste (Part 2)
Two Headed Yellow Bellied Hole Digger
Sad To See You Go
Never Too High To Fall

Kingmaker : In the Best Possible Taste (part 2) CD2

In The Best Possible Taste (Part 2)
Backroom Boys
Another Bad Dose Of Home Truths
Dissatisfaction Guaranteed

The Verve – No Come Down

No Come Down is a nine-track compilation of early outtakes, b-sides and a live cut from The Verve. It was released in 1994 in the US to coincide with a spot on Lollapalooza second stage. This is a beautiful companion the the debut A Storm in Heaven.

The souring gorgeous melancholy of Where the Geese Go, is a gem. The lyrics are unintelligible, to give this an psychedelic analgesic effect. The opening lines of 6 O’Clock are, “Six o’clock and I’m wasted.’ Drug references have been apparent throughout The Verve’s career but this is there psychedelic period. Not tie dye clappy hippy psychedelia, this is like the band have been holed up with a sheet of black acid, powerful and disturbing.

The US mix of Blue lacks the the stirring vocals of the version on A Storm in Heaven and the whole mix seems a bit muddy and seriously lacks the clarity of the original. The stripped down version of Make It Till Monday is another standout track. The live version of Gravity Grave weighs in at ten minutes and is very intense. The album closes with meloncholic wistful Twilight. The opening bars of this track alway remind me of the music in ‘The Gallery’ which was in the childrens art tv show Take Hart in the late seventies and early eighties.

The Verve : No Come Down

No Come Down
Blue (USA Mix)
Make It ‘Til Monday (Acoustic)
Butterfly (Acoustic)
Where The Geese Go
6 O’Clock
One Way To Go
Gravity Grave (Live Glastonbury 93)
Twilight

Trembling Blue Stars – Dark Eyes

Voted Single of the Week on Mark Radcliffe’s show on BBC Radio 1. The lead track is a delicate story of yearning and unrequited love, and one of the stand out tracks from the album Broken By Whispers. It was at this time they signed to Sub Pop for their album to gain a footing in North America.

There is a completely out-of-character moment in A Slender Wrist this is upbeat Beatleseque 60’s British invasion jangle. In Bob Wratten’s previous outfit The Field Mice there was much more experimentation with the likes of synth-pop showcased in their song Triangle, but with the ‘Stars he tended to stick to gossamer melodies about love dreamt about from afar.

Trembling Blue Stars : Dark Eyes

Dark Eyes
A Slender Wrist
Her World Beneath The Waves
Half In Love With Leaving

Swervedriver – Ejector Seat Reservation

The third Swervedriver album had an unceremonious delivery into the world. When they presented the tapes to U.S. label A&M, they were told that they’d have to wait over a year to see it released. This was due to the labels busy schedule and other commitments. The band ended up split with the label. There UK label Creation released Ejector Seat Reservation but never really promoted the album. Creation made most of it’s money by licencing the band in the US and as they no longer had a stateside label there was not much point keeping them on. Creation dropped Swervedriver a week after the release of Ejector Seat Reservation.

The album is a psychedelic favoured Swervedriver with melodically driven tracks rather than the guitar effects heavy propulsion of the debut album Raise. They draw upon Raise for the inspiration for Son of a Jaguar ‘E’, but this a slow burning heavy track and not the cathartic desperate rush of Son of a Mustang Ford. How Does it Feel to Look Like Candy? Has the same vocal hook as Burt Bacharach’s Do You Know the Way to San Jose, a catch singalong chorus that deserved to be released as a single. The title track Ejector Seat Reservation is filled with psychedelic lyrics and the jangly steel guitars at the end add to the trippy feel as they sound similar to a sitar.

The album includes three untitled hidden tracks which were only available in the United Kingdom, these were later named.

Swervedriver : Ejector Seat Resevation

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Single Finger Salute
Bring Me The Head Of The Fortune Teller
The Other Jesus
Son Of Jaguar ‘E’
I Am Superman
Bubbling Up
Ejector Seat Reservation
How Does It Feel To Look Like Candy?
Last Day On Earth
The Birds
Plan 7 Star Satellite 10
[Unlisted – Silence]
Flaming Heart

Thousand Yard Stare – Version of Me

The lead track from the ill-fated second album Mappamundi. The only single from the album, this version is the Stifled Aardvark CD EP edition. Other versions include live recordings of Comeuppance and Happenstance?

The most upbeat track on the album and obvious track to be the single, the rest of the EP is unmemorable and could have easily slotted into the rest of the listing in Mappamundi.

Thousand Yard Stare : Version of Me

Version Of Me (Edit)
Strange
Darkness Of Her Eyes
Version Of Me (Version Of)

Dark Star – Zurich

A repost of the lost Dark Star album, which is now the 9 track version and not the previously posted 7 track. It is largely the stuff of fables and legends until it appeared via Soundcloud in 2011, 10 years after Dark Star called it a day.  Listening to Zurich it is obvious that it was very close to being released, it just needed to be mastered, and then EMI lost interest.  Some music journalists have theorized that because there is no standout single like Twenty Twenty Sound’s I am the Sun, was the main reason the album was shelved.  I would disagree and personally feel that Perfectly Simple3 Seconds or Strangers and Madmen would have made great singles.

There is no real record if the album was just seven songs or even if it was going to be called Zurich, there are nine track versions written about but I have yet to find a copy.  It is unmistakably Dark Star there are massive metal guitar riffs in Perfectly Simple and there is definitely a prog rock feel to songs such as Strangers and Madmen mainly because of the disregard for pop sensibilities.  With such a limited backcatalogue it would be a great loss if this album never saw the light of day.

Dark Star : Zurich

Strangers And Madmen
Bigger Than Love
3 Seconds
Valentine
Perfectly Simple
Roman Road
Clicky
Blue Murder
The Day That Never Was

The Pastels – Truckload of Trouble

Truckload Of Trouble is a compilation album by The Pastels, released in 1993. The album compiles songs from their early EPs and singles released between 1986 and 1993. This quite possibly is when the group was at its musical zenith. It is a dreamy discorded melody shambolic C86 experience with slurred vocals. This sound was influenced by The Smiths and the whole C86 punk ethos but would, in turn, influence My Bloody Valentine, Beat Happening, Belle and Sebastian, and a whole host of twee indie-pop acts. Borrowing a statement from allmusic, ‘a cohesive listen from start to finish.’

This is not a compilation of early singles to make a mini album like Ride’s Smile or Lush’s Gala. This is a whopper double album with 18 songs including, Baby Honey, Speedway Star, and Not Unloved are re-recorded versions as opposed to the original versions. This compilation is the third time they have recorded Baby Honey. The version of Crawl Babies is different from the that is included in Up for a Bit with The Pastels, it is longer, faster, and more upbeat.

The Pastels : Truckload of Trouble

Thank You For Being You
Thru’ Your Heart
Firebell Ringing
Kitted Out
Comin’ Through
Over My Shoulder
Truck Train Tractor
Crawl Babies
Nothing To Be Done
Different Drum
Not Unloved
Baby Honey
Speeding Motorcycle
Speedway Star
What You Said
Dark Side Of Your World
Sometimes I Think About You
Sign Across Me

Chapterhouse – Pearl

The staple track from the Chapterhouse back catalogue, I did enjoy Falling Down more at the time but with 30 years of retrospect, Chapterhouse did shimmering delicate guitars better than dirty filthy wah. Pearl also cemented the NMEs view that shoegazing was ‘the scene that celebrated itself’. Rachel Goswell from Slowdive provides backing vocals although these are mainly ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. Pearl does feature a beautiful propelled John Bonham inspired drum beat. The single version of Pearl does stand up better than the album version.

Come Heaven is a great track that was left off Rownderbowt, and it showcases Chapterhouse’s sensitive yet euphoric nature brilliantly.

Chaptehouse : Pearl

Pearl
Come Heaven
In My Arms

 

The Bridewell Taxis – Lies

The debut flexi from the Leeds indie combo which was released in 1988.  The blue flexi-disc was self-released and given away free with a Wakefield fanzine which cost 20p.  It shows that they had much more in common with the Madchester scene than the Leeds indie scene which was mainly Cud and The Wedding Present.  The b-side (although this is the second song on a single-sided flexi) Just Good Friends does sound like Northside with a trombone.  It was the trombone that was the unique selling point and featured throughout their discography and set them apart from everyone else.  Lastly, I have been sadly been unable to find a link between the track Just Good Friends and the sitcom of the same name starring Paul Nicholas that finished just two years previous in 1986.

The Bridewell Taxis : Lies

Lies
Just Good Friends