Urban Hymns - Virgin 1997

Tracks: 1. Bitter Sweet Symphony / 2. Sonnet / 3. The Rolling People / 4. The Drugs Don't Work / 5. Catching the Butterfly / 6. Neon Wilderness / 7. Space and Time / 8. Weeping Willow / 9. Lucky Man / 10. One Day / 11. This Time / 12. Velvet Morning / 13. Come On / 14*. Come On / 15* Deep Freeze


I think the Verve's final album "Urban Hymns" from 1997, must be regarded as one of the finest of the early brit-pop movement 1993-97. Lead-singer and main song-writer Richard Ashcroft delivers some outstanding pop-ballads to the album, which sadly became the final. I have not heard their early album in their whole, but it's my impression that this album is significantly different; not as hard-rcoking and more acoustic.

The opener and world-wide hit "Bittersweet Symphony" is a great song built up around a string-loop based on the old Rolling Stones song "The Last Time". Jagger and Richards are also credited as songwriters, which I find very generous of the band, as you have to listen very carefully to notice any similarities to the old Stones song.

The other stand-outs on the album are mostly quiet songs with the acoustic guitar and Ashcroft's vocal in front. The brilliant "Sonnet" belongs to this cathegory; as does the other hit-single off the album "The Drugs Don't Work" - beautiful and sad. "Lucky Man" is yet another example.

Slightly harder is "Space and Time" which is melodic and which has a great hook and chorus. "Velvet Morning" and "Good Day" are other solid songs.

The rest of the album I tend to find slightly forgettable. Some songs simply go on for too long, while others just sound like unnecessasy fillers. Considering the long playingtime of the album (app. 70 minutes ), I think the album would have made a much stronger general impression if some of these tracks had been left out. A big shame if people lose interest before reaching "Lucky Man" and "Velvet Morning". Still a great album, though!!

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