The Verve

The Verve

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Verve

Img_capt = The Verve performing live in Greenwich, London, England on December 13, 2007.
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Wigan, England
Genre = Alternative rock
Space rock
Years_active = 1989–1999
Label = Hut Records
Virgin Records
Vernon Yard
Associated_acts = The Shining (band)
Richard Ashcroft (solo)
"The Good, the Bad & the Queen" (album)
URL = []
Current_members = Richard Ashcroft
Nick McCabe
Simon Jones
Peter Salisbury
Past_members = Simon Tong

The Verve (originally Verve) are an English rock band formed in Wigan, Greater Manchester in 1989 at Winstanley Sixth Form College, by vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones, and drummer Peter Salisbury. Simon Tong later became a member. The band split in April 1999 due to inner conflicts which led to McCabe's departure. The band's original line-up reunited in June 2007. The band embarked on a tour in late 2007 and released "Forth" in August 2008.

Beginning with a psychedelic sound indebted to space rock and shoegazing, by the mid-1990s the band had released several EPs and two acclaimed records. They also endured name and lineup changes, breakups, health problems, drug abuse and various lawsuits. The band's commercial breakthrough was the album "Urban Hymns" and its single "Bitter Sweet Symphony", which became a massive worldwide hit. Soon after this commercial peak, the band broke up, citing creative struggles between band members. By then, The Verve had become one of the most influential British alternative rock acts of the decade.

Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he (Richard Ashcroft) promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the cliché. They were the statement and the definition."cite web |url= |author=Mike Gee| title=The Verve: Urban Ties; A Bittersweet Symphony |work=iZine |date=1998-01-01 |accessdate=2007-05-09]


Formation and "Verve" EP (1989–1992)

Verve formed when the group met at Winstanley Sixth Form College, Wigan Metropolitan Borough, Greater Manchester, in 1989. Led by singer Richard Ashcroft, the band caused a buzz in early 1991 for its ability to captivate audiences with its musical textures and avant-garde sensibilities.

The group were signed by Hut Records in 1991Strong, Martin C., (2002), "The Great Rock Discography", 6th edn, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-312-1] and their first studio releases in 1992, "All In The Mind", "She's a Superstar", and "Gravity Grave" (along with the December 1992 "Verve EP") saw the band become a critical success, making an impression with freeform guitar work by McCabe and unpredictable vocals by Ashcroft. Those first 3 singles reached the first spot in the UK Indie charts. And She's A Superstar did enter the UK Top 75 Singles Chart. The band saw some support from these early days in the United States in some music scenes in big cities like New York connected with psychedelic music.

"A Storm in Heaven" (1993–1994)

1993's "A Storm in Heaven", the band's full-length debut, produced by esteemed record producer John Leckie (of Radiohead, The Stone Roses, XTC and The Fall fame), was a critical smash, but was only a moderate commercial success, reaching #27 in the UK album chart that summer.

"Blue" was released as the lead single and again managed to enter in the UK Top 75 at 69 and reached number 2 in the Indie charts. The second single from the album, "Slide Away", topped the UK indie rock charts. The band played on the travelling U.S. alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, in the summer of 1994. They released a new mix of "Blue" in the US for promoting the band. The tour proved disastrous for the group, as Ashcroft was hospitalized for dehydration caused by overdosing on Ecstasy, and Salisbury was arrested for destroying a hotel room in Kansas in a drug-fuelled delirium.Fricke, David, "The Verve". "Rolling Stone" (New York); April 16, 1998; p. 32] After the tour, the jazz label Verve Records sued the band for trademark infringement, forcing the group to officially change their name to The Verve. The first release that saw this change in name was the 1994 album "No Come Down", which comprises some 1993 b-sides plus a live version of Gravity Grave performed at Glastonbury and an acoustic remake of "Butterfly", originally from "A Storm in Heaven".

"A Northern Soul" and first break-up (1995–1996)

The turmoil continued well into the recording sessions of the follow-up album, 1995's "A Northern Soul". The sessions started off well; McCabe even called the first three weeks of recording the happiest in his life (due to his massive intake of Ecstasy). The recording of "History" was notable for Ashcroft nailing the vocals in one take, and celebrating by throwing a chair through a glass door immediately afterward. However, the rampant drug use and strained relationship between Ashcroft and McCabe during the sessions, took their toll on the band. Richard Ashcroft later described the recording experience as:

"Four intense, mad months. Really insane. In great ways and terrible ways. In ways that only good music and bad drugs and mixed emotions can make."

The band departed from the neo-psychedelic sounds of "A Storm in Heaven" and focused more on conventional alternative rock, although reminiscent of some of the early work. This can be seen in the context of the birth of the Britpop movement in England. By 1995 bands like Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and Suede ruled the charts. UK guitar-music bands were in the spotlight again. Grunge was dead in America. The most successful band during this period was Oasis. The Verve members, especially Ashcroft were friends with them, even before Oasis were famous (Oasis was the support act for some 1993-4 Verve gigs). And eventually the band ended up being added to the Britpop genre, or music trend. Around this period, Oasis guitarist and friend of Ashcroft, Noel Gallagher, wrote the song "Cast No Shadow" on the album "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?". Although dedicated to Ashcroft, it was not written specifically about him, as is commonly misunderstood. Ashcroft returned the gesture by dedicating the song "Northern Soul" to Noel. Martin Carr from The Boo Radleys is said to have a 'Northern Soul' tattoo in recognition of his favourite album of all time.

The band released the second album in July 1995, preceded by the single "This Is Music" which reached #35. "On Your Own", and "History" followed and performed even better, at 28 and 24 respectively. The latter two singles were particularly new for the Verve, as they dabbled with soulful ballads. Although the album reached the UK Top 20, Richard Ashcroft broke up the band three months after its release, soon after the release of the third single.

Ashcroft reunited the group just a few weeks after the breakup, but McCabe did not rejoin the lineup. The band hired former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, but he spent only a couple of days with the band. Thus, as a replacement, the band chose Simon Tong, a school friend of Ashcroft and Jones, to fill in the lead guitar duties. Tong is credited with originally teaching the two to play guitar.

Commercial success and second breakup (1997–1999)

Throughout 1996, Ashcroft, Jones, Salisbury, and Tong were writing songs for the upcoming album, with some recording sessions later in the year. In early 1997, Nick McCabe returned to the fold alongside Tong, 3 months into the production of the new record. With the lineup back together, the group went through a "spiritual" (and drug-fuelled) recording process to finish the album "Urban Hymns" that lasted more than 4 months in early 1997. By early summer they had finished recording their third album.

For the first time in its career, The Verve experienced widespread commercial success. Not only was the album a hit in the UK, but the band also found fame in the USA and much of the rest of the world. Single "Bitter Sweet Symphony" entered the UK charts at #2 in June 1997 and was a massive hit. The follow-up single, "The Drugs Don't Work" gave the band their first UK #1 single in September, with the album reaching the same position in the album chart a few weeks later when it was released. After that the band started an overwhelming increase in popularity overseas. Receiving significant airplay in the USA. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" reached #12 on the U.S. charts, the band's highest position ever in the USA. The album reached the US Top 30, going platinum in the process.

The song borrowed a looped sample of a symphonic recording of the Rolling Stones song "The Last Time". [ [>horror stories of sampling] ] [ [ "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones] , Songfacts] The band had obtained composition rights to the sample from ABKCO Records owner Allen Klein, which controls the Rolling Stones' back catalogue and permission to use the recording of the sample from Decca, the publisher of the original album. Just before the CD Urban Hymns came out, Klein obtained a copy of the song and decided that the band had used "too much" of the sample and threatened a lawsuit. At that late time there was no way the sample could be removed, so the band and Klein came to a verbal agreement. “We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split," said band member Simon Jones. Later, when it was apparent that the song was a worldwide hit Klein demanded 100 per cent of the royalties or they would be forced to removed the CD from the record shops. The band settled out of court, agreeing to give ABKCO Records 100 per cent of the songwriting royalties.McLeod, Kembrew (2005), "Freedom of Expression (R): Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity", Doubleday, ISBN 978-0385513258] Further, as a result of the lawsuit, Rolling Stones members Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were given songwriting credits. With full publishing rights to the song, ABKCO Records could legally sell licenses to advertisers and did several times. The song appeared in a Nike commercial against The Verve's will and then in advertisements for Vauxhall automobiles. After the song was used in the movie "Cruel Intentions", The Verve filed a moral rights (copyright) suit to ensure the song was not distributed commercially anymore. The Verve is said to have not made a penny from the song.

By November the band released "Lucky Man" in the UK and reached #7. Both "Lucky Man" and "The Drugs Don't Work" received airplay elsewhere after the success of "Bitter Sweet" and were given extensive airplay on US rock stations. Ashcroft, sans band mates, appeared on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine in March 1998. Then, as the band was on a successful 1997-98 tour to promote the album, bassist Simon Jones collapsed on stage. This was the first of many problems to come for the band in the next months.

Also in 1998, Nick McCabe, Simon Tong, Simon Jones and drummer Leon Parr formerly with Mr. So & So and Mosque were commissioned for a soundtrack for a Jonny Lee Miller film which was recorded in Kilburn. These never made it to the final film due to delays on their part.

On 24th May of that year, the band played a homecoming concert in front of 33,000 fans in the grounds of Haigh Hall & Country Park, Aspull, supported by Beck and John Martyn. McCabe's last show was on 7th June at Düsseldorf-Philipshalle after a post-show bust-up left McCabe with a broken hand and Ashcroft with a sore jaw. After this, McCabe decided he couldn't tolerate the pressures of life on the road any longer and pulled out of the tour, leaving the band's future in real jeopardy, with constant rumours of disbandment circulating in the press. However, the band continued with established session guitarist B. J. Cole replacing McCabe. McCabe's guitar work was heavily sampled and triggered on stage. After two headline performances at the V Festivals in 1998, and one at Slane Castle in Ireland, rumours began circulating that the band had called it quits. Finally, in April 1999, it was announced that The Verve had split up.

Post-breakup activities (2000–2006)

By the time the band had split for the second time, Richard Ashcroft, who quit taking drugs in the early 2000s, had already been working on solo material accompanied by, among others, Salisbury and Cole. In April 2000, his first solo single, "A Song For The Lovers", was released and hit Number 3. He debuted with "Alone With Everybody" (June 2000) which did very well. And followed it with "Human Conditions" in October 2002. An album that disappointed many and was outperformed in sales by any other solo record although there are mixed reviews found from it by rock critics, even some praising the album. And, after a three-year absence (with an emotive presentation in 2005's Live 8 together with Coldplay in the middle) he got back together and released "Keys to the World" in January 2006. Which included successful singles, as "Break the Night with Colour" and "Music Is Power" and was followed by a particularly successful tour, which included gigs as the support act for Coldplay's X&Y tour in North America and Europe and a significant homecoming gig in Manchester at the Lancashire County Cricket Club in June 2006.

After the band's second collapse, Simon Tong and Simon Jones formed a new group called The Shining, which initially included former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire; however Squire left the band before recording and touring had begun. The band released one album, "True Skies", before disbanding in 2003. Jones went on to join the band of Irish artist Cathy Davey.

Tong appeared as a live replacement for ex-guitarist Graham Coxon in Blur and as additional guitarist for Gorillaz. Tong is also a member of an unnamed supergroup formed by Damon Albarn of Blur which released its first album "The Good, the Bad & the Queen" in January 2007.

After the breakup Nick McCabe worked in different projects like the London-based Neotropic project and played along some established artists, including John Martyn, Leeds-based band The Music, The Beta Band and together with Faultline.

Besides working with Ashcroft, Pete Salisbury also filled in as the drummer for a UK tour in 2004 for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, when their original drummer briefly left due to alcohol and drug abuse. Salisbury also owns a drum shop in Stockport, England.

Reunion and "Forth" (2007–present)

On June 26, 2007, the band's reunion was announced by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1. The band, reuniting in their original line-up, announced they would tour in November 2007, and release an album in 2008. The band stated: "We are getting back together for the joy of music." [ [ "NME"] ] After Ashcroft learned that friend and drummer on his solo albums, Peter Salisbury, was in contact with former The Verve guitarist, Nick McCabe, over a possible side project, Ashcroft was compelled to call McCabe. He made peace with him and bassist Simon Jones and the band reformed. Missing from the band's line-up is Simon Tong (member of the band in the period 1996-9) so as to keep the internal issues that split the band up a decade ago to an absolute minimum. Jones explained this decision by stating: "It would have been too hard, it's hard enough for the four of us. If you bring more people to it, it's harder to communicate and communication has always been our difficulty". []

It was later revealed that the band turned down a multi-album deal offer "because the "treadmill" of releasing albums and touring marked the beginning of the end for the band a decade ago". []

Tickets for their six-gig tour in early November 2007 sold out in less than 20 minutes. The tour began in Glasgow on November 2, and included 6 performances at the Carling Academy Glasgow, The Empress Ballroom and the London Roundhouse. [ [ Xfm] ] Since the 6-gig tour went extremely well in sales, the band booked a second, and bigger tour for December. They played at O2 arena, the SECC in Glasgow, the Odyssey in Belfast, the Nottingham Arena and Manchester Central. Each show from the first and second part of the tour were sold out immediately.

On October 15, bass player Simon Jones revealed a number of new song titles the band had recorded since reforming. They include "Sit and Wonder", "Judas", "Appalachian Springs", "Mona Lisa" and "Rather Be". [ [ "AngryApe"] ] The first results of the reunion were released on October 22, as a free download called "The Thaw Session". The 14 minute jam was the first music the band made after deciding to reunite and was made available for a week free via the "NME" website.cite web|title=The Verve - World Exclusive download on NME.COM|publisher="NME"|date=2007-10-22|url=|accessdate=2007-10-22]

The band continued touring in 2008. They played at most of the biggest summer festivals and a few headline shows all over North America, Europe, Japan and the UK between April and August. Including shows at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, also at the Madison Square Garden Theater, and the Pinkpop festival, T in the Park, the V Festival, Oxegen Festival, Rock Werchter, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park and The Eden Project Sessions. [ [ "NME"] ] [ [ "NME"] ] [ [ "3FM"] ] [ [ "Oxegen Festival 2008 official website"] ] [ [ "Eden Project Press Release"] ]

On several different occasions, it was reported that the reuinited band were not getting on during the tour. McCabe apparently walked offstage during the band's gig at The Eden Project [ [ "Stranger Magazine"] ] , while a gig in Japan saw the guitarist rushed to hospital after what was reported to be an onstage fracas with his bandmates. [ [ "Holy Moly"] ] . The band later denied that any argument had taken place.

The band's new single, "Love Is Noise", was premiered by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio One on June 23. [ [ "Zane plays the new Verve single, avail until 30 Jun 08'] ] They performed at the coveted Sunday night slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on 29 June closing UK's biggest festival with a memorable performance, closing the show with the new song.

The Verve released a free download of a non-album track, "Mover", on June 30. The song is a well-known Verve tune played several times in the past by the band, as early as 1994. The track was available for download from their official website for one week only.

They played a very special session on the BBC's Radio 1 Maida Vale Studios on August 5 as part of Zane Lowe's daily show. The set list contained 3 new songs and 4 classics. An interview with Richard was included in the show.

The band announced the new album's title: "Forth", which was released in the UK on August 25 and the following day in North America. The album reached #1 on the UK Albums Chart on August 31. The lead single "Love Is Noise" was released in the UK on August 3 digitally and one week later (August 11) on its physical form, peaking at #4 in the UK. [Cohen, Jonathan. [ "The Verve Storms Back on Forth Album"] . Aug 1, 2008.] The song was a moderate success in Europe, charting at #16 in the European chart (with 6 weeks in the Top 20).

Although Ashcroft is contractually obligated to record another solo album, Jones doesn't feel that will interfere with the group's future, as he stated: " [A] ll of us want to pursue this (continuing as The Verve). It's something that means a lot to all of us." Added to this he mentioned the possibility to tour North America "towards the end of this year or the beginning of the new one" and that "this [reunion] definitely is an ongoing concern; it's not something that we're all just gonna chuck away again". [Graff, Gary.. [ "The Verve to Continue on After Reunion Album.] Aug 20, 2008.]

"Rather Be" will be the band's next single from "Forth" with a UK release date on November 10.


# "A Storm in Heaven" (1993)
# "A Northern Soul" (1995)
# "Urban Hymns" (1997)
# "Forth" (2008)


After the Verve split in 1999, many of their songs have been covered or reinterpreted in recent years. Limp Bizkit created a mashup of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" on their "Greatest Hitz" album. Singer/songwriter Ben Harper covered the song The Drugs Don't Work in a live show which is found on the live album "Live From Mars". Also, Australian band Grinspoon did a cover on a radio station. The string section of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" has been sampled by artists such as Madonna and Kanye West in live concerts, while Justin Timberlake used the song as his curtain call for the FutureSex/LoveSounds tour. Fact|date=May 2008 Moby has created a remix of the song.Fact|date=May 2008 In the movie "Cruel Intentions" it is played at the final scene of the movie. The music video for "Bitter Sweet Symphony" was parodied by Fat Les for the 1998 World Cup song "Vindaloo". Also, The song "Love is Noise" is played in many UK football stadiums.


External links

* [ The Verve - Official Website]
*MySpace|thevervetv|The Verve
* [ The Verve - Japan official website]
* [ The Verve Online]
* [ Sit and Wonder Fansite]
* [ The Verve Info]
* [ Verve Universe]
* [ The Verve Live]
* [ Virtual World Forum]
* [ The Verve Unofficial]

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