Anyone with a passing Verve interest should check out the albums that generated these...
Lou Thomas 2007
Here The Verve re-release a three year-old singles collection just before Christmas, slightly after the band have reunited for the second time and before some highly anticipated reunion live shows. Those who work in marketing may be cheered by that toxic brew of cynicism but a moment should be allowed for anyone else who wishes to vomit in disgust. Yet, it's undeniable that when Wigan's premier space-rock indie survivors work their magic to full effect on some of the finer tracks from their three albums there aren't many bands to touch them.
The opening pair of the title track - all revolutionary lyrics and Led Zeppelin guitar bluster - and "Slide Away", a genuinely warm Stone Roses rumbler that sounds like a great Saturday afternoon spent with someone you love, are fantastic. These two in particular would suggest that rather than just being a superior guitar band The Verve are the missing link between the likes of Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins, Teardrop Explodes and the more trad end of Brit-rock occupied by Oasis and Travis. Or there's "Lucky Man" where frontman Richard Ashcroft sounds like a man saved by music, like he's emerged into the daylight from an astonishing chemical-soaked party.
The Verve are at their best when concerned with big imaginative ideas and general feelings, not necessarily personal, concrete storytelling. "Bittersweet Symphony"'s key line,'You’re a slave to money, then you die', is just one reason why the epic Rolling Stones sampled-track remains a contender for British single of the '90s. That it sounds as huge and inviting as an empty summer sky also helps. Unfortunately, "Sonnet" and "The Drugs Don't Work" are present here and remain the embarrassing set of platitudes they were in 1997, while "This Could Be My Moment" doesn't just have a title like an X Factor winner gone soft-rock but also sounds like one.
There are moments of exhilaration throughout This Is Music but too often these are coupled with a failure to tighten acid-fried meandering into any sort of tune. When added to occasional lyrical banalities that would make even Kaiser Chiefs blush, the result means anyone with a passing Verve interest should check out the albums that generated these hits before shelling out on this package.