"Alone with Everybody" first soloalbum? The follow up to "Urban Hymns"?
Isn't "Forth" in fact The Verve's follow up to 1995's "A northern Soul"?
Because of Richard Ashcroft's nervousness and reluctance to make "Urban Hymns" his first solo album it is sometimes a bit hard to tell what is verve album and what is solo-albums...
"A northern soul" is a verve album. The original four participated in songwriting and production of the album. The same goes for new album "Forth". But "Urban Hymns" started of with only 3 members; Richard, Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury. And was to be the first Richard solo album. Richard wrote the songs.
A friend from Wigan, their base town Simon Tong was drafted in to play guitar and keyboards.
Back to "Alone with everybody":
A lot of people love this album and quite a few has criticized it for being too slick and mid-tempo. I really like this album. But I must admit that there is a little truth to what the critics has argued.
But to call this album AOR-radiofriedly blah-blah.. is overstating it. The same people gave "Urban Hymns" 6 star reviews for exactly those virtues that they criticized a few years later...
I will in the following argue that this album is the real contender for "Urban Hymns" explaining about a little history and facts and that there is so many similarities on the two albums and how a little editing in the track order and omitting a few songs for a couple of b-sides will make the album truly work to it's best! For the sessions for this album sessions did produce a GREAT body of work!
Many of the songs on this album was recorded for The Verves Urban Hymns but didn't make it. A lot of this has to do with the fact that guitarist for The Verve, Nick McCabe, had returned to the group in the last stages of recording Urban Hymns.
"Urban Hymns" went from the first solo album by Richard Ashcroft to the Verve's third album.
They pulled some songs off overdubbed McCabes guitar on already finished songs and re-recorded some songs and recorded some "new" songs among them "The Rolling People" and "Come on" both from around the time of The Verve's second album "A northern Soul". Two new tracks also came along "Catching the butterfly" and "Neon Wilderness".
Considering that many of the songs on this album were from the period of Urban hymns and that the band on "Alone with everybody"consisted of Peter Salisbury, drummer from The Verve, and BJ Cole, pedal steel player who replaced Verve guitarist Nick McCabe on the last part of the Verve's tour for "Urban Hymns", and that it also has the engineer and co-producer Chris Potter and string arranger Will Mallone doing what they did on "Urban Hymns" makes it kindda hard to say that this is the first solo album.
I know it is in name. But to me and I believe a lot of Verve fans this is really the second soloalbum with help from Verve drummer Peter Salisbury, Chris Potter and Will Malone all key players on "Urban Hymns".
As the second soloalbum it makes perfect sense. It has the same multilayered production of "Urban Hymns" relying, for the most part, on midtempo songs with string arrangements. The difference is that Richard plays the guitars assisted by pedal steel player BJ Cole instead of Nick McCabe and Simon Tong. And there is no doubt that Richard has a lot of the same effect pedals as Nick McCabe using the guitar to paint colors like McCabe more than playing the correct chords and licks. Richard's guitarplaying is great, turn up "New York" and "Crazy World" in the layers of production is great distorted guitar roles!
Pino Palladino is playing bass and does a fine job laying down the groove with Peter Salisbury.
There is a lot of similarities on the two albums. The difference is more in the mood. There is a more upbeat feeling on "Alone with everybody". The songs lyrics are indeed a little happier. There's more "Lucky man" ("Urban Hymns" track)than there is "The drugs don't work"/"Velvet Morning". The balance is a bit more on the dark side on "Urban Hymns".
For my personal taste a couple of tracks shouldn't have made it, "Slow was my heart" and "On a beach" should have been b-sides and instead two of the b-sides "Precious stone" and "Make a wish" should have gone on the album instead. The tracklist should have been:
A song for the lovers
Brave new world
I got my beat
Make a wish
Money to burn
You on my mind in your sleep
This tracklisting makes for a less slick a bit less mid tempo ballads album. It's a bit darker and the dynamic is better I think, it makes it more natural when more upbeat stuff sets in. I have always liked this album a lot and has always been a bit frustrated to find out where it kind of went off. I like the songs i would have preferred off the album.
But to get that "blue/big/personal" (how do you describe Ashcroft & Co.'s great sonic abilities) feeling of a cohesive album I think my changes a for the best.
Anyways, with a few changes in the track order and two b-sides and two songs off This is indeed a GREAT album and the REAL follow up to "Urban Hymns".