2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2001
Having bought this based on the great reviews on Amazon, i feel a bit duped. There are some good songs and some great moments here. The ballads are spine tingling and the guitar work is great on the more extended jams. "On Your Own" is a stand out track. But even stronger tracks like "History" only hint at the more lyrically and musically sound "Urban Hymns". It seems like there's a lot of off the cuff wordplay going on that just doesn't work on this album. The production is another matter and usually I don't care about production. Guided By Voices "Bee Thousand" sounds horrible but i still think it's a great album. The engineers should be shot for putting this out as it is and the Verve should never have let this get out by approving this final mix. This sounds at times like it was recorded in an empty bar. To be commended is the guitar playing especially the last 12 minute reprise track. It is stellar. But beware the hype...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2004
If you know of the Verve as the "Bittersweet Symphony" song and the Urban Hymns album, then you're definitely missing out on what the Verve is all about. A Northern Soul is in many ways, even better than Urban Hymns. Soul hads a slightly harder sound, with songs like "A New Decade","This is Music", the title track "A Northern Soul", and "No Knock on My Door". But the album also contains ballads like the excellent "On Your Own" and "So It Goes". It also contains a song that sounds a lot a track from Urban Hymns, which is "History". It also contains a few songs that sound a lot like A Storm in Heaven, their debut album, these being "Stormy Clouds", "Life's An Ocean", and "Drive You Home" All in all, the album has the right balance of sound, and at times, it's simply amazing. The album does have a weak song or two, one of which is "Drive You Home" But one of the best things I like about this album is being able to understand most of the lyrics. In their previous albums, the lyrics are echoed out and tough to hear, but A Northern Soul is much better, with Richard Ashcroft's lyrics coming to the front of the music.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2003
Okay, hello fellow Verve listeners and amateurs alike. This is the best verve album, Urban Hymns cannot compare to this mastery. The first track is called A new Decade, and it shows that the verve can rock as well as show it's perfect ambient side. The seconbd track is the aptly titled "This Is Music", Which when I first heard it, I knew what music was. n your own is probably my least favorite track. The next track, so it goes, is half hard half not, and I enjoy it. A spotlight in the album is track five, A Northern Soul. This song not only rocks, but it's lyrical intensity gives me chills, when he [Richard Ashcroft] screams... I'M GONNA DIE ALONE IN BED, You'll understand pain and suffering of emotions. The brainstorm Interlude is still proof that they can rock out. Drive you home shows the incredible beauties of what they have done. History is a string-laced piece of art, I only wish the strings wouldn't be so piercing. No Knock on my door is just a bluesy beauty. Life's an ocean is a true gem ... "Imagined the future, woke up with a scream, I was buying some feelings, from a vending machine" Thats the shi*. Stormy clouds is a great song, but not the best, and the final reprise is the most incredible guitar work and emotional song that is instrumental that I have ever heard. I own so many good CD's, and this one is definitely in my top five. Buy this after Urban Hymns, only if you like the song The Rolling people and Come on.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2010
Northern Soul by Verve
every one has heard urban hymns but in reality this album is better. it does not contain any top 10 hits but every tune is solid. i was surprised this band never made it big in Canada, hardly ever hear them. great vocals, good guitars and excellent lyrics. their from scotland, they must be good. Lol. if you enjoy good rock'n'roll you will like this album. Check it out.
on January 14, 2002
I grew up in Indiana and went to school in Ohio. Before the internet, I relied on word of mouth and Rolling Stone for cd purchases. I bought Urban Hymnes during my Junior year and it really blew my mind. It is my favorite album of all time for me. "Loaded" by Velvet Underground is second. This band is easy to LOVE for the masses because it has the 'unknown, uncommercialised' appeal and because they are truly a great band. For some reason I waited to buy 'A Northern Soul', maybe out of fear that it would ruin my feelings toward the band. The album is cool to listen to because I can feel there movement towards "Urban Hymnes". It is less layered and complex than "urban hymnes" and "So it Goes" is already a classic in my mind, along with "Drive you Home." I bought Richard solo effort and it was too calculated. BUT, Richard Ashcroft truly is incredible, defiently the most under rated rock artist in the last ten years. Maybe he is huge in the UK, but not in the states. Buy this album if you want to listen to some great music. Ryan Adams and The Strokes media machines and alcolades make me sick while "The Verve" goes unnoticed, but hey, isn't that how we like it?
on January 24, 2001
While "Urban Hymns" is without a doubt The Verve'smasterpiece, I believe "A Northern Soul" is the heart of TheVerve. While recording "A Northern Soul" The band... hopingto achieve a greater, more powerful sound. The result was a chaoticstorm of sonic blasts of guitar and calm beautiful moments.
Thehighlights are: "This Is Music" a fast number with greatlyrics and set the mood for the album, definitely one of The Verve'sbest louder numbers. "On Your Own" and "So ItGoes" are the best songs on the album. "On Your Own" isa soft acoustic song(One of the only light moments on the album) and"So It Goes" has a lovely dreamy guitar effect."History" a classic Verve single is a possible early hint of"Urban Hymns", lush strings and of course great lyrics."Drive You Home" also is another favorite of mine.
If youbuy another Verve album after "Urban Hymns", then get"A Northern Soul." It can be a little hard getting use tobut when you finally get use to it, you'll see its beauty. Life's AnOcean and "A Northern Soul" will fill the emptiness in yoursoul.
on November 4, 2000
First of all lets get the fact that Richard Ashcroft is a genious out of the way, and go on with the review. Ashie has three great albums to choose from, "Northern Soul", "Urban Hymns"(my personal favorite), and "Alone With Everybody", and to name the best is just a matter of opinion. This album is no weaker than then the other two, but the best part of this is that you can feel the emotion and the raw sound of it all. This album is almost like a live release, which I think is a great quality, but to understand it, you yourself need to be a sort of genious. If you want to join the religion of Ashcroft, and want to learn to hear him and experience him like many others, start off with Urban Hymns, it's simpler and easier to cope with, and then work down to Alone With Everybody and Northern Soul. Becides the magnificent "History", my favorite would have to be, the title track, I love to tune to it really loud late at night to a point where it hurts my ears, and it brings the devil out of me. This man will make you experience emotions that you never knew existed, but first you must settle to his music and understand him, but the things he'll do to you I can't put to words, it's like a whole other life, I don't even consider him a musician, he's above that.
on August 19, 2000
Sometimes I crave this album...I will sit in my car at a red light and suddenly..I am frantic..I will be rummaging though my CD case trying to find where I put this beautiful thing...and much to the pleasure of the person behind me...before the second honk...I usually get it.
The essence of what makes this album so amazing is that it is perfectly balanced. It is so close to riding the edge of something so powerful and yet something so gentle you can't help but let it seep into you. It often sickens me that these five people could be so brilliant...and still not be together.
Ashcroft's voice is so versatile in the emotion that it can generate. Throughout this album it ranges between a confident observer in "This Is Music" to a hopelful but spent man in "History"....
However, I must say that this album belongs to guitarist Nick McCabe. The presence of his influence is heard (even more so now that Ashcroft has a solo out) best in this album. The intensity of his playing is stunning and volatile all in the same moment.
The album shows just how much 'soul' this group had.
on July 7, 2000
"Urban Hymns" is a fine album, but "A Northern Soul" is the Verve's greatest record. Why? It's the intensity -- seldom have I heard rock music performed with such passion and desperation. The band, and especially Richard Ashcroft, pour their hearts and souls into every track as if their lives depend on it. Much has been written about the squalor surrounding the recording of "A Northern Soul" -- the drugs, the broken glass, the screaming arguments -- and you can hear the effects in the music. The production is far from perfect; it sounds murky, and the mixes sometimes sound odd. Every track is amazing, but special consideration must be given to "So It Goes," the title track, "History" and "No Knock on My Door." Richard sings with a far purer voice on "Urban Hymns" and his new solo record, but the pain he exorcises here -- it's about a break up of devastating circumstances -- and how he does it is stunning. It's absolutely tragic that this magnificent record tanked outside the U.K.; indeed, the band broke up because of it, almost for good. If you've only heard "Urban Hymns", I hereby command you, dear reader, to purchase "A Northern Soul" and bask in its imperfect, yet mesmerizing glory.
on April 18, 2000
The Verve has slowly made their way into being one of my favorite bands (too bad that I've heard they've now broken up). Urban Hymns was once "down" in my top 20, but every time I listen to it, I raise it a notch. Now it is solidly in my top 10 CDs of all-time, moving into U2/Dire Straits territory.
Which made me recently go out and buy "A Northern Soul". I figured I had to try another Verve CD since I like Urban Hymns so much. And am I glad I did! These guys are just amazing! What incredible, spectacular music! Great vocals, driving rythyms, and pulsating guitars punctuate the CD, with their touching, quiet ballads lending good balance. "History" has to be the best song I've heard in a long time.
I will agree with many of the reviews here that the production of this CD is weak. However, the "rawness" of the production doesn't detract too much from the CD. In fact, it gave me a sense that I was listening to a band on the verge of greatness. And their greatness was to come a little later with Urban Hymns. Still, their talent is undeniable, and this is a must-buy.