THE VERVE – A STORM IN HEAVEN (Released 9th September)

£19.99 – LP

Back then, of course, they were known simply as ‘Verve’… But can it really be almost 25 years since Richard Ashcroft (vocals), Nick McCabe (guitars), Simon Jones (bass) and Pete Salisbury, (drums) arrived like a bolt from the blue into a grey musical universe and reminded the world quite how transcendent rock’n’roll can be?

On September 9th UMC release expanded editions of The Verve’s seminal first two albums A STORM IN HEAVEN and A NORTHERN SOUL. Both 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.

Limited edition vinyl versions will also be released in faithful reproductions of the original packaging.

A STORM IN HEAVEN

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 something of a psychedelic classic. Drenched in echo and reverb it is highly atmospheric, extremely nuanced and, for many long-term fans, remains the band’s ‘lost’ masterpiece.

For a debut it was as adventurous and audacious as they come – with Richard Ashcroft’s semi-hallucinatory lyrics of hope, love, isolation and insanity reflecting 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.’

For this super deluxe reissue the album has been remastered and is augmented by the inclusion of all the pre-album E.P. tracks, associated B-sides and acoustic versions, as well as two previously unreleased BBC radio sessions and two excellent unreleased studio tracks – South Pacific and Shoeshine Girl. The accompanying DVD presents a 1992 Camden Town Hall concert, the USA promo video for Blue, unseen footage of the band in New York in October 1992 and a video for the unreleased South Pacific, made up from footage of the Sawmills recording sessions as captured by producer John Leckie.

The CD / DVD set comes in a lift-off-lid box and features four post cards, a poster and a 48-page book featuring new interviews with the band (Richard aside) and never-before-seen photos by bass player Simon Jones and photographer Michael Spencer Jones, who shot all the band’s sleeves at that time.

“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. We’d had arguments with the record company over the second and third E.P.s, but when we delivered the album they seemed pretty happy with it because they thought there were singles on it. We’d taken on board what they’d wanted, and without compromising too much, had delivered something a bit more concise and focused. The Americans, especially, were delighted. We picked up a big following on college radio and did a tour across the whole country. We had a big underground following and Slide Away was being played on MTV all the time. In the climate that existed then, it worked.”

Simon Jones (bass guitar)

 

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