At the Cinema: The Verve - This Is Music: The Singles 92-98

I've already mentioned my hunka hunka burning love for the Verve several times, so I'll try to gloss over being too gushy (though I make no promises).

"The Verve - This Is Music: The Singles 92-98" was released back in 2004, but I've been watching so much of it lately I figured I ought to tell you what makes it so appealing. Well, other than the Verve's hauntingly beautiful storm clouds of spacey shoegazing rock, that is.

The DVD includes 13 videos, arranged in seemingly random order (I've gotta admit, I would have preferred chronological, it would have made their progression visually much more interesting) and two audio-only tracks from the Best Of CD of the same name. But still, you get to see it all, from the early, Verve EP and A Storm in Heaven days of long-haired and crazy-eyed Mad Richard (Ashcroft) to the trendily-shorn Captain Rock years (Noel Gallagher's nickname for Ashcroft) of A Northern Soul and Urban Hymns.

Seeing all these videos in one collection reveals some interesting things, the first being that the band is basically the highlight of all the videos. Meaning, Richard, Nick, Simon, and Pete (and sometimes the other Simon) make up the vast majority of what you're looking at. Whether that's narcissism of happenstance isn't really the issue, but I did find it a bit unusual. The second major thing I noticed, because until I bought the DVD I hadn't ever seen older Verve videos, is that the really, really old ones (and to a certain extent the videos from A Northern Soul) recycle shot after shot after shot. I lost count of how many times certain scenes showed up, but perhaps they were just being budgetarily-minded and reusing the shots was justifiable that way.

On the other side of the coin, this is a pretty great DVD, especially if you're a little on the fanatical side (example: me). The videos aren't works of music clip genius, but there are several that really encapsulate the Verve: the older videos for "Slide Away", "She's A Superstar", and "Blue" are definitely some of the standouts. A little goofy in that early 90s way, these three videos are old Verve to the core. They're swirling, disjointed, sprawling, and occasionally over-saturated. And that's pretty much exactly how they ought to be. And the video for "On Your Own", the song that made me cry the first time (and many times after that) I heard it, is very well illustrated by its video, a very gloomy, muted affair. While I don't love most of the videos off of Urban Hymns, the band's last effort before their split in 1998, the video for "Bittersweet Symphony" will always be one of the most striking videos I've ever seen. There's nothing quite like watching a particularly gaunt Richard Ashcroft glaringly strut down a London street, scornfully ignoring everyone he happens to bump into on his jarring jaunt in his Clarks.

The Verve - This Is Music: Singles 92-98 is a must-have for Verve fans, and a worthwhile watch for even the most casual observer. When it comes right down to it, the thing about the Verve has always been that they've been more about the music than anything else. These videos are just another way to experience their divine musical presence.


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