The Verve to re-release A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul
The Verve’s seminal first two albums A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul will be re-released as 3CD box sets on 9 September. Can it really be almost 25 years since Richard Ashcroft and co arrived into a grey musical landscape to reminded us how transcendent rock’n’roll can be?
Formed at Winstanley Sixth Form College in Wigan in 1989, and versed in everything from The Stones and Funkadelic to Can, The Verve went on to become one of the most defining bands of the Britpop era.
Both albums have been remastered by Chris Potter (co-producer of the band’s Urban Hymns) at Metropolis studios. The albums feature previously unreleased and never-heard-before tracks, E.P. and B-sides material and BBC sessions.
Initially released in the UK on 21 June 1993, A Storm In Heaven was a modest UK hit (No. 27 in the album chart) but over the past two decades has come to be regarded as a psychedelic classic. Drenched in echo and reverb it is an atmospheric affair that, for many, remains the band’s ‘lost’ masterpiece.
The album featured Richard Ashcroft’s semi-hallucinatory lyrics of hope, love, isolation and insanity that reflected the burgeoning mood of a generation. Life under post-Thatcher Tory rule might have been grim, but as Ashcroft sang in Slide Away: ‘These are our times and your highs.’
Bassist Simon Jones says: “It was pretty much improvised. It was quite bold on our part to actually blag that, and not tell the record company that we didn’t have enough material to make a record. We had the ability but we didn’t have the material. That really put the pressure on making that record, but we didn’t want to put the singles on the album. When it was done, the feeling was all really positive. As a band we were happy – we’d made something we could be proud of, especially considering how young we were."
Released in the UK on 3 July 1995, A Northern Soul spawned three Top 40 hit singles- This Is Music, On Your Own and History. A darker, starker, and more personal affair than their debut, A Northern Soul saw Ashcroft eschewing the strung-out positivism of their debut for sober ruminations on the human condition.
Guitarist Nick McCabe said: “By the time we came to record A Northern Soul it felt a bit more serious. It had to go down properly. We had to get what the band was all about down. We were a great live band by that point. We were all confident players, but we were exploratory players as well. We wanted to do that justice in the studio because we hadn’t really captured what we did as a unit. It was such an intense period – it was engineered to be intense really. We engineered a situation that was stressful in some respects to get the most intense thing we could down on tape.
"Part of our culture as a band was that we played all the time anyway, but when it came to going into the studio there had to be that extra ingredient. We were always striving for this extra factor, of taking it to a new level. Because of that, we felt like we were under some kind of self-imposed stress and all the shenanigans that went on were part and parcel of our ceremonial approach to making music. When it worked it was incredible…”