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Review of The Verve's Forth: Revaluation

I have edited this post, since I first wrote it, because, on a 100th listen, The Verve's Forth has become one of the comforting and lyrically subtle albums of the year for me, despite my earlier qualms. It's good to see this on-again-off-again band from the 90s (which I think of as one of Britain's best of that period) welcomed back so warmly.

After The Verve broke up, again, gangly prophetic lead singer Richard Ashcroft took his dreamy voice and visionary lyrics on a self-interested joy ride over a few albums of pleasant, rambling boredom. It was hoped a rejoining of the group, including hugely talented guitarist Nick McCabe, would force Mr. Ashcroft to be less verbose, less aimless, and more, well, brilliant. I loved A Storm in Heaven - one of the great albums of the last 15 years. A Northern Soul (with stirring anthem "History") upped the ante.

Then came the smash success of Urban Hymns - an album that seemed to marry poetry, personal lament, and "Galveston"-style country pop, with druggy indie rock. Well, Forth is like its brothers, but not quite as handsome. It stretches its legs, wanders about, gets lost in a haze, and makes ponderous statements about life and love - mostly at mid-tempo, even sampling the start of "Live To Tell".

All the verbal tropes and tics are in place (even the warbling through a distorted mic that sounds like a tannoy system run amok). This is sleepy stuff, nodding off before bedtime. It is a sleeper, truly, and actually very good. Four Specs.

Comments

Ashcroft and the Gallagher gang who in a NW Wigan-Manc rock axis rolled into my head like few other potastic fabbers have done before or since. they captured - i thinik - a New zeitgiest, pre-tone committing the monumental messianic faux pas with the Iraq debacle. dickie stirs within memories of summer afternoons spent stalking vast lawned Ali Pally, poncing fags from the London folk congregating where to gaze out over one of the premier vistas of that capital town, was - on a clear day - the city skyline in a distant sun beating down across my back, travailed on the trampled grass in the simple haze of accepting life as good.

dickie's prophetic pose briefly weaving a spell, back when Liam and Noel, still close to their roots, before the slip into Status Quoasis millionaires trotting out the same cliched riff at forty as twnety one,

*i made it ma, on the cover of Rolling Stone*

when all raw the eyebrow breath of L's refreshing realism embodied the moment gone, a notion that we the Labour class had reached apical political heights, being on, the Westminster branch-line, we would change it, but as they took our soul they stole our pride and now Sir noel, arise

in the bogs at number ten, snorting charlie, take the mick

be ourselves and getting away with it, embodying uniquely our britishness, spirit of fair play, here goes our lahs to number one

me first final gravy train
equitable, across the board
the level playing field, per se,

was it just a New con, all the mockney labour cheps falling

suddenly right before it ended in the terrorist bomb of pentagon

new low in a tired old chord straining for revenge

descended as surely as gods of youth deserted our Lancashire rockers

i won't change i won't change
a million different people
the drugs don't work

tv on and from the only hip Wigan ever had, charmless as a snake oil
full throated bean pole in full swagger


delusional dickie, as youth wore off

got charm deserting, a track
record being of the main god,

stolen by the s/he-man's promise who New, delivered not

and thus it always was with Wiganers

as we know it, scouse accent on
broad-vowels in the pool of it

the mersey omphalos
asking dickie rocking this

on a high hep strat, returning for a moment through the window of a million bedsits, the day you cashed in, bought the Wiltshire mansion,

threw out pronouncements as we hung on yr every word

every tune a deed for our nation of believers

cynical dreamers of another con s/he enacted

dramatised, fictionlised, life from south west lancashire

into the million different voices, billion silent choices

every purchase of the urban verve, a hymn for who's annointed

gods of sound and stone covered noises

you made it, dark, brief, illuminati

ashcroft ambush chained " by all the weight

of all the words he tried to say"

sail me to a twin boxed off station
simple mountain

elegance, the mechanics of our eloquence stated,

said stuff only dickie can and does

"a song for every man who tries to understand

what's in his hands

who walks along the open road
of love and life

surviving if he can, bound by all
the weight of all

the words he tried to say, chained
to all the places

that he never wioshed to stay
as he faced the sun

he cast no shadow"

capturing the momentary illusion
togetherness, unity

plastic union jack, as they took our soul

they stole our pride* and hit the road sean nos

singer, Richard of Wigan once
Mór of all the troubadours

was it love?

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