Though The Verve has finally taken its rightful place in the Brit Rock cannon, it languished for years behind such English luminaries as Oasis and Radiohead. During that time, The Verve release several albums that got less... more » attention than they deserved. Mark A Northern Soul as one of them. The 1995 release was perhaps the first album on which the band reeled in its trademark guitar epics and fashioned bona fide pop songs. "On Your Own" is one of the lushest and loveliest tracks never to find a minute of commercial airplay in the U.S. or abroad. No self-respecting fan of modern rock should be without this one. --Nick Heil« less
Though The Verve has finally taken its rightful place in the Brit Rock cannon, it languished for years behind such English luminaries as Oasis and Radiohead. During that time, The Verve release several albums that got less attention than they deserved. Mark A Northern Soul as one of them. The 1995 release was perhaps the first album on which the band reeled in its trademark guitar epics and fashioned bona fide pop songs. "On Your Own" is one of the lushest and loveliest tracks never to find a minute of commercial airplay in the U.S. or abroad. No self-respecting fan of modern rock should be without this one. --Nick Heil
""Urban Hymns" is a fine album, but "A Northern Soul" is the Verve's greatest record. Why? It's the intensity -- seldom have I heard rock music performed with such passion and desperation. The band, and especially Richard Ashcroft, pour their hearts and souls into every track as if their lives depend on it. Much has been written about the squalor surrounding the recording of "A Northern Soul" -- the drugs, the broken glass, the screaming arguments -- and you can hear the effects in the music. The production is far from perfect; it sounds murky, and the mixes sometimes sound odd. Every track is amazing, but special consideration must be given to "So It Goes," the title track, "History" and "No Knock on My Door." Richard sings with a far purer voice on "Urban Hymns" and his new solo record, but the pain he exorcises here -- it's about a break up of devastating circumstances -- and how he does it is stunning. It's absolutely tragic that this magnificent record tanked outside the U.K.; indeed, the band broke up because of it, almost for good. If you've only heard "Urban Hymns", I hereby command you, dear reader, to purchase "A Northern Soul" and bask in its imperfect, yet mesmerizing glory."
One of the best albums of the 90s, yet unknown by many
justin | north carolina | 03/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you know of the Verve as the "Bittersweet Symphony" song and the Urban Hymns album, then you're definitely missing out on what the Verve is all about. A Northern Soul is in many ways, even better than Urban Hymns. Soul hads a slightly harder sound, with songs like "A New Decade","This is Music", the title track "A Northern Soul", and "No Knock on My Door". But the album also contains ballads like the excellent "On Your Own" and "So It Goes". It also contains a song that sounds a lot a track from Urban Hymns, which is "History". It also contains a few songs that sound a lot like A Storm in Heaven, their debut album, these being "Stormy Clouds", "Life's An Ocean", and "Drive You Home" All in all, the album has the right balance of sound, and at times, it's simply amazing. The album does have a weak song or two, one of which is "Drive You Home" But one of the best things I like about this album is being able to understand most of the lyrics. In their previous albums, the lyrics are echoed out and tough to hear, but A Northern Soul is much better, with Richard Ashcroft's lyrics coming to the front of the music."
The "bridge" album
trainreader | Montclair, N.J. | 10/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's just incredible to me that Verve (or "The Verve," if you prefer) released only three albums. Their second album, "Northern Soul," perfectly bridges the lush swirling guitar sounds of "A Storm In Heaven," and the more mainstream, heavily orchestrated "Urban Hymns." While guitarist Nick McCabe clearly dominated "Storm," on "Northern Soul" (and continuing with "Urban Hymns") their is no doubt that vocalist, Richard Ashcroft, became the leader and chief visionary of the band. As compared to the prior album, Ashcroft sings with much more emotional depth and confidence. His lyrics are almost achingly personal and painful. It's notable how he uses repetition of certain phrases to imply deeper meaning in a number of songs, much the same way that the brilliant Thom Yorke of Radiohead does this.
While "Northern Soul" is a fine and consistent album (I like several of the tracks alot, namely "A New Decade," "This is Music," "On Your Own," "So It Goes," "History," "No Knock On My Door"), I don't think it reaches the level of the best portions of "Storm" or "Hymns," wich is why I gave it "only" four stars. Additionally some of the songs run on a verse or two too long. Nevertheless, "Northern Soul," holds its own as part of the extraordinary Verve trilogy of albums. Why did they break up?"
Took me 4 listens to fall in love with albumn
Christopher R. Nowak | Albany, NY | 02/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At first I thought this albumn was disappointing when compared to "A Storm in Heaven" and "Urban Hymns." I had to play it a couple times to really get into it, but now I can't take it out of my CD player. It definitely does not take a back seat to any other albumn I've ever listened to. I regret my initial judgment, but I often need to listen to an albumn a few times before I get its vibe. If you are thinking about buying this because you like "Urban Hymns", stop thinking and buy it - you won't regret it."
The Verve have made the album of the decade
email@example.com | Philadelphia, USA | 07/06/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On their 2nd LP, the Verve have managed to use all their influences: Can, Led Zepplin, Miles Davis, Nick Drake, and more, yet have crafted original, powerful, timeless rock and roll. Every song is heartfelt and emotional with Richard's Ashcroft's painfully honest lyrics and soulful singing. Nick McCabe's guitar work here is miles ahead of any of his peers. His playing ranges from towering and immense to subtle and understated, but always tasteful, beautiful, and unique. Plus, the Verve have the benefit of having the best rhythm section in the world. Simon Jones' original basslines give songs an added rythmic flavor other bands fail to use ("Life's An Ocean" being the best example). Peter Salisbury displays his masterful drumming, which, not unlike McCabe's guitars, can provide full-on power or a quiet, underlying flow. All four elements combine perfectly, with a chemistry rarely seen in bands today. A Northern Soul offers touching ballads ("On Your Own" and "History"), experiments in noise ("A Northern Soul" and "Brainstorm Interlude"), straight ahead rock music ("This Is Music" and "No Knock On My Door"), and much more. With its densely layered production, it is the kind of record where you will hear new sounds with each listening. This is a dark, yet cathartic album of potent songs that will leave you wanting more and more. Here the Verve offer you wjat their name suggests: music full of life, passion, and vigor. Key tracks: every single one of them."