Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The Verve - Voyager 1

For you new kids on the block, yours truly is well and truly enamored with The Verve. They're one of my favorite bands of ever, and in my humble opinion they're one of the best English bands of the last twenty years (technically the last twenty-one, since they've been together since 1989). If you already know and love them, good for you. If not, well, the sooner you listen to them the sooner you'll be forgiven.

I'm perpetually in thrall with the earlier songs of the band, the hazy, heady, heavily shoegazing songs of The Verve EP and A Storm in Heaven. Everything about this era in The Verve's history smacks of Romantic poets (as does the Northern Soul record, wherein Richard Ashcroft apes heftily from the William Blake poem "London", though that's a matter for another post entirely), mysticism and magic, and dissatisfaction with modern life. The songs on those two recordings are some of the best songs I've ever heard in my life, both lyrically and musically. One of my biggest regrets in life is not getting into The Verve early enough to see them touring any of the early records over here. But happily, dear, dear friends, there exists a crucial part of the band's mystique, a little slice of heaven known as Voyager 1.

Recorded in both the US and the UK, Voyager 1 shows a band in full command of their powers, even fairly early in their career. Listening to it is a bit like stepping back in time, back to the dawn of the 90s, and being immersed in a powerful wave of incandescence that must have been quite remarkable to behold. Listening to V1, I can almost see Richard Ashcroft, long-haired and gaunt in full Mad Richard mode, undulating as if possessed by some unholy spirit, while Nick McCabe drones and shreds his guitar, existing in a world alone with his instrument. The seven-song recording is one of the best live records I've heard, bar none. The textures and the scope of the band's music is perfectly captured, warts and all, from the throbbing, telltale bass of "Slide Away" to the seductive swirl of "Already There".

It's a wonder to behold, and even more special than the content belies, thanks to the relative rarity of this particular recording. Copies of Voyager 1 are hard to come by, and pricey to get a hold of. They also make the perfect birthday present, for the Verve-loving blogger who has a birthday coming up next month (hint hint).

mp3: Slide Away (The Verve from Voyager 1)


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