Lonely Soul

DJ Shadow and James Lavelle spent ages putting together Psyence Fiction, a guest vocalist heavy post-hip hop album in 1998, packaged beautifully by Mo Wax. It was long, it was a kind of 90s psychedelia, it was a bit overwrought and it was a bit over-worked. Some of the tracks pulled it off though. This one with The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft managed it- those portentous strings at the end sound both over-the-top and rather good.

Lonely Soul

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>I’ll Take You Down The Only Road I’ve Ever Been Down- Remix

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It all ended up a bit silly for The Verve didn’t it? After their early days with their ten minute psychedelic guitar trips about men called Sun and ‘Mad’ Richard claiming that one day he’d learn to fly they found a new audience with the arrival of Britpop and the patronage of Oasis. 1995’s A Northern Soul contained various career highpoints and I’m not sure their big seller (Urban Hymns) has held up that well. Too much mid-paced balladry, which they’d actually perfected in some style on the previous album with the song History. The comeback a couple of summers ago was entertainingly funny, with that huge indie anthem singalong at Glastonbury and then an album that led to an enormous collective shrug. Then they split up again. The less said about Richard Ashcroft’s solo career the better, but he hasn’t yet learned to fly.

The tipping point for them was Bittersweet Symphony in 1997, and then it’s follow up, the dirgey The Drugs Don’t Work. Bittersweet Symphony had an eye-catching video, ear-catching strings, and a lawyer-catching sample (which led to them having to give all songwriting credits to Jagger-Richards). I still have a softspot for this song, one of the few Britpop songs that’s worth anything. The version here is Bittersweet Symphony remixed by UNKLE’s James Lavelle, taken from The Drugs Don’t Work cd single, a format I actually quite miss. Ashcroft later turned up on Lavelle’s UNKLE album singing Lonely Soul, a genuinely psychedelic and soulful urban hymn. This remix is interesting enough if you haven’t heard it before but it isn’t going to replace the original.

Bitter Sweet Symphony James Lavelle Remix.wma

UNKLE ft. Ian Brown ‘Be There’

As I’ve written before I loved The Stone Roses. A lot. I’ve also stated my opinion of their solo careers- not much cop. Sum of the parts greater etc.

I’ve tried really hard with Ian Brown’s solo records. I was as excited as anyone when Unfinished Monkey Business came out, loved My Star and Corpses In Their Mouths. He made his point- I can do this on my own. Since then he’s gone on to make and remake solo albums, which have interested me less and less. Golden Greats was OK, I bought Solarised but I couldn’t tell you what any of it sounded like, and doubt I’ve played it more than a couple of times. The 2001 single everyone raves about, F.E.A.R., is, I’m afraid, utter cobblers. Stoned, pseudo-profound, lightweight nonsense, and not in a good way. I fully expect people will disagree with me. There are members of my own family who would, and strongly. Ian has increasingly comes across as a bit, well, daft. Looking for a picture for this post it was difficult to find one where he wasn’t doing that thing with his hands, wearing silly sunglasses or jeans that are a little too youth for him, or proudly showing off an international sportswear companies freebies, and usually a combination of all of the above. I do like the picture here though. He looks like he’s wearing a tracksuit based on a pair of child’s pyjamas and either offering a tambourine out for a fight or about to kiss it, which isn’t something you see pop stars do very often.

And I don’t particularly enjoy typing these words because for a long time I loved him and his band. Anyway, to get to some kind of point, this record is amongst the best things he’s been involved with since going solo. The backing track was from James Lavelle’s painfully hip Psyence Fiction era UNKLE, and Ian’s vocals added later, to massive effect. This is a really good, out there, post-dance music record. I wish he’d turned in more like this.

be_there.mp3