I’ve always been intrigued by echoey distortion and reverberation – and the way musicians can seemingly control the feedback they get by swinging their guitar towards the amp. It’s possibly a result of listening to the indie chart when I was growing up, and it’s why I’m still drawn back to early 90s music.
I’ve got several ‘go to’ albums in my collection, some of which I’ve been enjoying recently – and I thought it’d be cool to break up a run of blogs about football with a short one about music. After all, the season is over and apparently it’s summer (even if the weather’s trying its best to pretend it’s not).
A couple of days ago I cracked on Suede’s Dog Man Star – their second album, released in 1994 and listed at number 31 in NME’s 500 greatest albums of all time. The opening track Introducing The Band is brilliant, and guitarist Bernard Butler hit some real heights on We Are The Pigs and This Hollywood Life – before he left.
My other hidden treasure from around that time is The Verve’s first album A Storm In Heaven (released in 1993, when the band were just called ‘Verve’). I bought the album a few years after it came out, for about five quid in Woolworths in Grimsby. With no track listing on the back, and a bleak blue hue across all the artwork, I had no idea what my ears were about to be treated to.
It’s not a pop record. It’s nothing like their later work. It certainly wasn’t Lucky Man or Bitter Sweet Symphony. It was raw; it was melodic. It was swirly, echoey guitars, huge bursts of noise, trippy bass riffs – even horns made an appearance. It was mental, and certainly not ‘easy listening’.
But it’s a work of art. It has highs and lows, peaks and troughs, and it sort of meanders and wades through tingly swirls of guitars, explodes and crashes through choruses before fading and floating off into the distance – leaving you feeling as drugged up as the band most definitely were.
If Urban Hymns was Richard Ashcroft’s record, then A Storm In Heaven belonged to guitarist Nick McCabe. It’s probably not a record that people will instantly warm to – but then that’s often the sign of a great record.
Their videos from that time are just as intriguing as their music. The themes they explored were pretty dark, and I absolutely adore the style and direction of the filming – especially in Blue, which is probably their most ‘mainstream’ single from the album.