Ranking the entire works of Richard Ashcroft
In his various guises Richard Ashcroft has been a prominent face and sound in the music industry for the last 30 years.
Whether it’s his work with The Verve, United Nations Of Sound or solo I think it warrants a retrospective look at.
So how do the 10 albums compare when analysing his work? Here goes.
10) United Nations Of Sound (2010)
A good record with the vibe of The Verves’s “Forth” album. I actually saw him tour this in Manchester upon it’s release.
“Are You Ready” kicks off the album in euphoric fashion.”This Thing Called Life” sounds like it could be on an earlier Ashcroft solo album.
It’s a solid effort but sometimes suffers from over production.
9) Human Conditions (2002)
For me Ashcroft sets the bar high with his solo work and I find it hard ranking this album so low on this list.
One of my favourite songs of his appears on this record.”Science of Silence” is a sweeping ballad which drags you in and the typical orchestral background always gives the song a little extra.
As you would expect with Ashcrofts records it’s solid with excellent production although I was never a fan of “Buy It In Bottles”.
8) Keys To The World (2006)
Richard’s third solo album opens with the stomper “Why Not Nothing” and has one of his strongest singles to date with”Break The Night With Colour”
The highlight of this record is “Sweet Brother Malcolm” Acoustic beauty.
7) These People (2016)
It’s very fine lines in ranking his work.
Richard’s first musical output in 6 years. Such was the expectation of this release that concert tickets sold out in minutes.
“This Is How It Feels” is an epic comeback single and “They Don’t Own Me” feels like it could be the younger brother to “Lucky Man”.
6) Natural Rebel (2018)
Once again the album is backed by a strong opening single. “Surprised By The Joy” sings of optimism.
The highlight of the album for me though is “Birds Fly” a little Beatles-eque catchy number.
For me the album has a very Beatlesy feel to it all the way through which can’t be a bad thing.
5) Alone With Everybody (2000)
A great start to the Ashcroft solo career and a strong effort start to finish.
Opening single “A Song For The Lover” set’s the tone for a brilliant album.
It’s no coincidence that Richard’s strongest solo record contains tracks written for The Verves “Urban Hymns” album.
“C’mon People (We’re Making It Now)”,”New York” and “A Song For The Lovers” were recorded but left off “Urban Hymns” which shows you how brilliant that record was.
4) Forth (The Verve) – (2008)
It’s no coincidence that the top 4 albums on this are by The Verve.
The musicianship of Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, Peter Salisbury and Simon Tong always added to any release and could never be replicated.
This was the first album by the band in 11 years and was backed by a headline performance at Glastonbury 2008.
“Sit and Wonder” feels like a jam session, “Love Is Noise” is the perfect radio friendly comeback single and Numbness just screams “psychedelia”
3) A Storm In Heaven (The Verve) – (1993)
To me it’s the album that sums up The Verve.
A hazy, psychedelic masterpiece which at the same time has acid jazz.
It’s hard to pick a highlight track of this masterpiece because they are all as good as each other.
2) Urban Hymns (The Verve) – (1997)
A modern day classic from start to finish and an album packed with anthems.
It’s the most commercially sounding album in their arsenal and was also their most commercially successful.
The album spawned four of the eras most iconic tracks with ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony, “Lucky Man”, “The Drugs Don’t Work” and “Sonnet”
The album though is much more than that with the rousing “The Rolling People” and “Come On” amongst my highlights.
1) A Northern Soul (The Verve) – (1995)
All farewells should be sudden.
If history had turned out differently and they had actually called it a day after “A Northern Soul” I still think their legacy would stand today.
The album is not commercially as accessible as “Urban Hymns” but it’s certainly more powerful.”History” is my favourite single by the band and interestingly enough would be the first to incorporate strings into their sound.
It’s an album by a band on the brink wracked with conflict and heartbreak.
Sometimes the greatest albums are written around all the chaos and this is certainly the case here.
Words by Lee Bellfield