Friday, June 17, 2011

40 Songs, 40 Days (2011 Edition), Day Fifteen: One More For The Lovers by The Verve

And tonight's song...a demo from a band perhaps best known for being sued.

I think everyone who loves music knows the story of The Verve; they stand alongside Biz Markie as cautionary tales in regards to taking care of oneself in the changing landscape of the music business. Fronted by Richard Ashcroft, this has never been the most...consistent of bands. They had already broken up and reformed once before the hit that would make them (in)famous broke through. That hit, 'Bittersweet Symphony,' utilized a sample from an obscure album of Rolling Stone covers performed by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. The sample had been licensed from the record company who put out the original album--but Keith Richards and Mick Jagger still sued them, arguing successfully that they used 'too much' of the sample, which resulted in the biggest single Verve ever had being credited to Richards and Jagger. I don't think the band ever quite recovered after that--there was a second break-up two years after the single's 1997 release, and even though they've reunited yet again, neither this third run nor Ashcroft's solo career has reached the heights they did off that song.

This song is sorta tangentially related to 'Bittersweet Symphony,' as it comes from 'Sympathy For The Demos,' a bootleg collection of demos put together by the band shortly after Ashcroft got guitarist Nick McCabe to rejoin the band after a year away. The collection as a whole is rather fascinating, as the songs contained within seem to mark an attempt to fuse the band's psychedelic expermentalism of its first run with the more conventional Brit-poppiness of its second run. You can almost hear the 60isms dripping off the echoey vocals and the jangling guitars, making the whole thing sound like some recently uncovered nugget destined to be on one of the many compilation indie record labels put out in the 80's. It's one of the things that made those first two Verve albums both unique and a touch inaccessible; the sense that they were both unique and familiar, both comforting and unsettling at the same time.

To the best of my knowledge, this song never surfaced on any official Verve or Richard Ashcroft release--like most bootlegs, documentation is iffy at best (I could not even find an accurate lyric sheet for this song), although the similarities in the arrangement make me think it mutated into "A Song For The Lovers" on one of Ashcroft solo albums. You used to be able to find zip files containing the whole Sympathy For The Demos set for free everywhere--I got mine from Heather Browne's excellent I Am Fuel, You Are Friends blog--but they seem to have disappeared from these venues. Still, a Google search can take you to a number of sites that offer the collection as a digital download for a nominal fee (the average price I saw was $2.50), and if you're interested in mid-90's Brit-pop, it's worth a listen.

Here's the song in one of those 'I love it so much I'm posting it with a static image' youtube thingies...

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