The Verve - Urban Hymns (Vinyl)

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Urban Hymns is the third studio album by English alternative rock band the Verve, released on 29 September 1997 on Hut Records. It earned nearly unanimous critical praise upon its release, and went on to become the band's best-selling release and one of the biggest selling albums of the year. As of 2019, Urban Hymns is ranked the 18th best-selling album in UK chart history and has sold over ten million copies worldwide. This is the only Verve album to feature guitarist and keyboardist Simon Tong, who initially joined the band to replace their original guitarist Nick McCabe. McCabe rejoined the band soon after, however, and Tong was considered the fifth member of the band; this makes the album the only one that the band recorded as a five-piece.

The album features the hit singles "Bitter Sweet Symphony", "Lucky Man" and UK number one "The Drugs Don't Work". The critical and commercial success of the album saw the band win two Brit Awards in 1998, including Best British Group, and appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1998."Bitter Sweet Symphony" was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

The Verve had previously released two albums, A Storm in Heaven in 1993 and A Northern Soul in 1995. The band had only achieved moderate commercial success up to that point, and the band split shortly after their second album due to internal conflicts. Vocalist Richard Ashcroft quickly reformed the group, with Simon Tong, an old friend of the band on guitar, however Ashcroft realised Nick McCabe's unique guitar style was required to complete the true Verve unit and later asked him to return. Tong also remained adding more guitar and keyboard/organ textures, making them a five-piece band and expanding their sound.

The four-piece had already recorded several tracks for the album with Youth as producer, but once McCabe returned they re-recorded several tracks and changed producers to Chris Potter. McCabe said that in the next seven months of work, "... the key tracks were recorded from scratch, but some of them were already there."

The cover photo was taken in Richmond Park, London by photographer Brian Cannon, who was also responsible for the artwork of the band's previous two albums. Cannon said that the simplicity of the image was because Ashcroft simply wanted fans to "listen to the fucking record".

 



Integrity is a difficult thing to own if one is in the music business ... artists want the recognition, they want the success, yet they crave those street credentials, credentials that harken back to a by gone era, to groups like The Velvet Underground, who built up a hard core cult following, primarily after they broke up. And The Verve have inadvertently followed them down the same rabbit hole, laying out some stunningly romantic neo psychedelic music, picking up where groups like Echo & The Bunnymen and Jesus and Mary Chain left off, and then self-destructing in the process.

I like to feel that there’s always been a sense of desperation in the music of The Verve. They forever seemed to be stretching for something that was just out of reach and have adjusted their sound and style with each outing to reflect this searching and uncertainness ... yet here on Urban Hymns, it's easy for you to hear the culmination of everything the band has put forth to date. "Velvet Morning" has to be a near perfect song, but then so are nearly all of the tracks found here, this is the album groups wait a lifetime to make, this is the album music lovers wait a lifetime to find.

At times the music can drive you headlong through the night, at other times it can rocket you into space or expand your days in ways you’ve never thought of. There is a cumulative effect to the tunes found here, they build, intermix, weave and collide with each other with both grace and abandonment. The music is some of the most dense and richly textured I have ever encountered, filling the air with shimmering heat waves that constantly wash over and envelop with comfort and peace. The Verve have managed to draw from their influences without compromising themselves, their sound is all their own, and to that end you should find where this most excellent release fits into your life. This is one of the most prized albums in my collection, and I often hesitate reaching for it, for fear that it will not hold up for one more play ... but I tell you true, it has never let me down.

By; Streetmouse.


A1 Bitter Sweet Symphony
A2 Sonnet
A3 The Rolling People
B1 The Drugs Don't Work
B2 Catching The Butterfly
B3 Neon Wilderness
C1 Space And Time
C2 Weeping Willow
C3 Lucky Man
C4 One Day
D1 This Time
D2 Velvet Morning
D3 Come On



Originally released 1997 as HUTLP45.
Includes printed innersleeves.

All tracks published by Kobalt Music Publishing Limited, except track 1 published by Abkco Music Inc.

At least five different vinyl releases exist; this one replicates the version with the band pictured on each side label and RIM text

Other versions available are:
- with the band pictured on each side label without RIM text
- with black side labels
- the mailing sleeve edition (limited to 5000 copies)
- the 2008 US reissue by Capitol Records

Sourced from digital files prepared from the original half-inch tapes. Remastered by Chris Potter & Tony Cousins at Metropolis and Sabian at Fullsound. The vinyl lacquers were cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy and the records were pressed by Optimal Media.