- by Kevin Orton Rating:10 Release Date:2016-09-16 Label: UMC
A Storm in Heaven, the Verve’s debut, goes to show the band that later cut A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns was there from the get go. The sprawling, soaring soundscapes; the yearning vocals and opiate moods. More than all their albums A Storm in Heaven is somewhat less cynical and defiantly Psychedelic in an era where Grunge was all the rage. This is an album of getting all baked and tribal round the campfire on a summer’s night. Rather than A Northern Soul’s devastating portrait of hopeless addiction.
‘Star Sail’ and ‘Slide Away’ live up to their title by rising to the heavens and then letting go. ‘Already There’, however gives us a glimpse of troubled skies to come. And a glimpse of what a formidable singer and songwriter front man Richard Ashcroft could be.
‘Beautiful Mind’ keeps up a shoe gaze vibe, one can hear the influences: The Cocteau Twins, Felt, Stone Roses, Love, Tim Buckley and of course, the Doors. I also wonder if they ever came across obscurities like Common People or Meic Stevens' Outlander.
The driving, “The Sun and The Sea” cuts through the psychedelic jungle to a reveal a tougher, more sardonic underbelly. At a time where the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam were at their peak, here, The Verve proved they could hold their own in such company. And throw in a sax solo to boot. Without a doubt, ‘The Sun and the Sea’ is one of Storm’s standout tracks.
The moody, ‘Make It ‘Til Monday’ is quite possibly the darkest track, while ‘Blue’ is the album’s most strikingly Pop moment. In an album boasting a lot of psychedelic slow jams, it’s refreshing to hear something so focused and rich. “See the world through my dirty little mixed up mind,” Ashcroft bellows.
Not to be out done, we have the Bluesy, “Butterfly”. Which frankly, steals the show. An absolutely, delicious cut. One of the things that keeps me coming back to this album. Simply brilliant, amply summoning the specter of the late, great Marc Bolan. The Verve at the top of their game.
‘See You in the Next One (Have A Good Time)’ sends you off with a lonely man at the piano ballad that is anything but wistful. Giving clear indication that this band had more up its sleeve than meets Storm's eye.
As with all reissues, they've tacked on the usual extras. I'm not going to be a spoiler but there's some real gems to explore.