“Imagine the future/ woke up from a scream/ I was buying some feelings from a vending machine” – Richard Ashcroft
The original ‘”A Northern Soul” album in 1995 had only a very limited release on vinyl , it had been a rather rare collective item with its gatefold cover in sparkling mirror finish. The classic back cover had a vending machine where Simon Jones was buying some feelings from. The reissue of the LP in 2016 was big payback time for the fans.
A few months after the release of this second album, the Verve broke up in the fall of 1995. Even if they did not come back to make another two albums after “A Northern Soul” , it would still take 22 years anyway (till now ) to digest this inventive unique classic album. McCabe’s ambience based playing style made the band shine from its peers , plus Richard’s angry white man ‘s blue soul vocal with the poetic lyrics and melody, this album really sound like no one else, no music ever sounded like this till now.
‘A Northern Soul’ starts off with : “A new decade / The radio plays the sounds we made / And everything seems to feel just right “. It sounds like a storm in space , chaos in the state of mind , with Richard’ s angry wounded vocal , determined to challenge and become the top player in the British music scene. The tension and extends with the explosive second track ‘This is Music’ that spur out the anxieties about the unknown future, class and religion. Then there comes the beautiful ballad ‘ On Your Own ‘ that touches the souls for everyone ‘s lonely dark side.
The dark side continues with the bleak of ‘ So it Goes’ and the title track’ A Northern Soul’ Well, where Richard spends an entire verse singing ” I’m going to die alone in bed”. Until the space ambient track ‘ Drive You Home’ that finally soothes out the the dark tensions.
‘History’ is definitely one of the most heartbroken acoustic ballad from them with the poetic sorrowful flow of the River Thames as the backdrop. Rumour has it that producer Owen Morris getting so worked up as they nailed a take of ‘History’ after an all-night session that he threw a chair through a plate glass window. ‘Life’s an Ocean’, Richard sings about the classic lyric “Buying some feelings from a vending machines.”
The whole album is a space journey coming in and leaving on your own, forget the lovers you know and your friends on the road.