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Monday 19 December 2022

Monday's Long Songs

Back in the early 90s Verve appeared out of the wilds of Wigan, four skinny pale boys with straggly hair, suede jackets and desert boots, looking like the existed on a diet of cigarettes and LSD with the occasional bag of chips for nourishment. They were a swirling psychedelic monster, space rock that soared and swooped. Guitarist Nick McCabe didn't appear to be much interested in chord progressions and verse- chorus dynamics but in texture and tone, FX and reverb, runs of notes that were like pinpricks of light against the inky black heavens. The rhythm section thundered away, a bedrock that elevated the group's noise away from the shoegaze bands and towards the skies. As a calling card and statement of intent their debut single, 1991's All In The Mind and its B-sides One Way To Go and A Man Called Sun, is a hard to beat. This incarnation of the group got lost after the release of A Storm In Heaven in 1993 (although A Northern Soul has its moments too). They were forced to add The to their name. Inter- band relations and constant touring took their toll. Singer Richard Ashcroft, 'Mad Richard' in the press in the early 90s, began to be more interested in mid- paced, universal balladeering than stratospheric dream psyche. These things happen. 

Gravity Grave, released in October 1992 is eight minutes of the above, a delay affected bassline, big drums and a squeal of guitar, then more guitar and FX and Richard singing into the wind, 'My life is a boat/ Being blown by you/ With nothing ahead/ Just the deepest blue'. The song shifts a few times, breaking down into bass and drums, some harmonica and then builds again, Nick McCabe playing like a Winstanley version of Hendrix but mainly it's all about the moment, being alive inside the song as the groove goes on. 

Gravity Grave

In case you haven't noticed, over in Stockholm Jesse Fahnestock has been running an advent calendar of musical delights, his 10:40 recordings re- presented, clearing the decks ahead of a new album next year. On 3rd December, behind door number three, was a 10:40 edit of One Way To Go, that 1991 B-side dubbed out and extended, Richard's vocal going backwards and forwards, eventually meeting itself in the middle of the seven minute trip. You can get it here for free. 

The entire 10:40 advent calendar of releases is free, a festival of music with releases- edits, original tracks and remixes spanning dubbed out rock, laser beam festival electronics, wonky hip hop, chuggy Balearica and Tom Waits boneshaker blues. It is going on every day until the big day comes this weekend. Dig in and feed your head here


Anonymous said...

That opening period of EPs and the debut album is really quite astounding. Where The Geese Go, Feel, She's A Superstar. They managed to capture lightning in s bottle. The BBC sessions from the time on Peel & Mark Radcliffe are really worth a listen.

Michael Doherty said...

That was me above. Google was playing silly buggers.

Swiss Adam said...

A friend shared this earlier, live in 1992, amazing stuff https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynPJSWyvCDY

LuckyLucas said...

My favourite Verve in blissed-out gig was at Manchester uni dec 93- the small room that later was academy 3 i think. Oasis third on the bill but missed them although I had wanted to see them. Oasis had done a stone roses type promotional thing by flyposting the union-jack-down-the-toilet logo around the suburbs of salford/manchester so they were on the radar. My mate caused us to to arrive late and it has haunted him since (an oasis fan). In '95 we missed the verve support again which was Toni Halliday's shortlived new band after Curve.
the following June Oasis played their first outdoor gig at a free heineken sponsored gig at avenham part in preston. They had to stop the opening song as they were getting loads of the sponsors product thrown at them. "We're not fkin Blur" the singer bleated. The following year Verve headlined and the beer started flying again. RA threateningly lurched over to one side of the stage where the main culprits were grouped and quickly nipped that in the bud. The band played without missing a beat.

Swiss Adam said...

Great stuff LuckyLucas. That little room at the top of the university, Academy 3, is a cracking venue. Seen a few bands in there- can imagine early Verve would have been on fire in there.