Classic Albums – The Verve: Urban Hymns

Looking back at the albums that hold a special place in our memories, Derek Rickman reflects on a favourite from Wigan’s big hitters The Verve…

The Verve / Urban Hymns  1997


The one album I keep returning to through all the diverging genres and phases of music. My battered copy (with the original booklet beautifully photographed by Michael Spencer Jones) still sounds contemporary thanks to Chris Potter’s gleaming production values and the band’s stellar musicianship throughout.

Listen to Richard Ashcroft’s Jay-Z like ruminations on Neon Wilderness, one of the last tracks recorded at the sessions, and Nick McCabe’s wonderful guitar embellishments on the extended jam Catching the Butterfly. Indeed it’s the band songs rather than the folk tinged numbers such as Ashcroft’s maudlin Drugs where their talent shines through. Check out the blistering live version of The Rolling People at their triumphant Glastonbury appearance in 2008 and the rousing call to arms of monumental closer Come On.

For years I had Bitter Sweet Symphony as my ringtone/alarm, to the annoyance of my brothers one morning on a weekend camp where, after a night of over zealous drinking, they couldn’t locate my repeating cellphone buried at the bottom of my sleeping bag.

Richard Ashcroft will release Acoustic Hymns Vol. 1 on October 29th, an album featuring new stripped-back versions of some of his classic songs.

By Derek Rickman 

16th October 2021