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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now...
Urban Hymns - for me the greatest record of all time. If I can somehow convey at least a part of the reason why I believe this to be true, I'll have done well. Because it's hard to put into words how good this album really is. Both musically and lyrically, it is as close to perfection as I think any record will ever get.

There are four very famous songs on...
Published on 6 Aug 2006 by J. Cracknell

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Long Winded
There is a good 40 - 45 minute album here, but the songs just outstay their welcome. Most songs on here could end after about 3 to 4 minutes.
Published 4 days ago by I. Hampton


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now..., 6 Aug 2006
By 
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
Urban Hymns - for me the greatest record of all time. If I can somehow convey at least a part of the reason why I believe this to be true, I'll have done well. Because it's hard to put into words how good this album really is. Both musically and lyrically, it is as close to perfection as I think any record will ever get.

There are four very famous songs on here, but they are just one dimension to Urban Hymns, there is so much more to this record than the first four singles. Even so, each is outstanding. Bitter Sweet Symphony is emphatic, euphoric and exhilarating. The strings begin, but once the beat kicks in it sends a chill down my spine. Sonnet is sweet, a beautiful acoustic song. The Drugs Don't Work was number one on the day of Princess Diana's death. It has another beautiful acoustic melody, but The Verve are so good at adding depth to their songs, this is them at their best. And Lucky Man, if I had to choose, this is my favourite song on the album. It has been such an inspiration to me at difficult times of my life, whenever I feel low I can play it and it reminds me of who I am.

Then there are the nine other songs here which really make the album into what it is - a masterpiece. That word is overused a lot in music but here it truly does apply. There are three songs I'd like to point out here, which show that The Verve are more than just a one man show, and that they know how to rock out as well. The Rolling People is a huge song, full of spark and craft, "here we are the Rolling People, can't stay for long, we gotta go." Weeping Willow is the hidden gem on this record, if you aren't paying attention it can pass you by, but stop and pause to listen to this because I assure you it will grab you and suck you in. This is one of the most intense songs I've ever heard. I'd been playing this album for seven years before I discovered how great Weeping Willow "the pills under my pillow" really was. Then there is the raging climax - Come On. It is completely different to all that went before because rather than encouraging you to reflect, it encourages you to stand up and shout, with a fist in the air, "**** you - Come On!" I cannot think of a better way to end an album like this, one that takes you on such a life affirming journey, than to finish with such a jubilant celebration.

And still, there so many more great songs on Urban Hymns... "I'm gonna keep Catching That Butterfly in that dream of mine... in a Neon Wilderness, he was restless... there ain't no Space And Time to keep our love alive... maybe One Day we will dance again... good times are hard to hold, This Time I'm gonna find... into the half light, another Velvet Morning".

Altogether, these thirteen songs make up seventy-six minutes of pure genius from start to finish. It represents a great year in modern history, 1997, a year of hope; expectation, celebration and tragedy; but in the end, this album is completely timeless. I love it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Will Stand the Test of Time, 10 Nov 2004
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
This is one of those timeless albums that you can listen to now (six years after its initial release) and still enjoy it. Each of the songs still sound as fresh as today as they did back in 1997. With this album, the Verve hit a homerun.
I remember I was browsing through a CD store when I first heard "Bittersweet Symphony." It immediately caught my attention, and I stood rooted on the spot just listening. Very few times has an album jolted me like that, but this was one of those times. I asked the clerk who this was and he said that it was from the new album by The Verve. After "Bittersweet" was over, he told me to hold on and listen to "Lucky Man." It was after that I was sold -- I had to buy the album.
On this album, you get 13 little masterpieces -- there's not a filler track in the bunch. Besides the excellent songwriting, the production is outstanding. I haven't heard such a good mix of strings since Tony Visconti's work with T. Rex -- just listen to "Lucky Man," "Bittersweet Symphony," or "Sonnet" for proof.
The only downside is that the group broke up after this -- their finest moment! Of all the dumb luck. While Richard Ashcroft has gone on to do a couple of solo albums, they don't seem to capitalize on what The Verve had done on this album. Yes, he's the voice, the did much of the writing, but as the old saying goes: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Best album of the 1990's? This one, no question about it. After the Britney's, the Justin's, and all the other drivel from that era fades, this will be one of the albums people look back upon fondly. Rating: A+
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best albums ever!, 9 April 2003
By 
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
the history of the verve (previously without 'the') is a quite extraordinary journey that produced two under rated albums ('storm in heaven' and 'northern soul'). The journey in the early 90s took its toll ...forcing verve to split after the fantastic single 'history' in 1995.

its unclear how they started up again two years later but my guess is cos the genieus that is richard ashcroft wrote songs such as 'bitter sweet symphony', 'sonnet', 'lucky man', 'drugs dont work', 'space and time' and decided it would probably be a good idea to record these songs. i reckon it was probably a wise decision as this is without doubt a classic that will still sound fantastic in years to come.

it seems after years of trying to make the big time the two year break was what ashcroft and the boys needed.anyone who has heard the fantastic b-side 'so sister' will realise how strong the album was for it not to be included.'catching the butterfly', 'weeping willow' and the amazing 'this time' will never tire from my cd player. not a bad track on the album at all and from the opening song 'bitter sweet' to the closing number 'come on' the verve finally achieved their place in history....and then split up again!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No dead wood in sight, 16 Mar 2004
By 
D. Owen (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
'Urban Hymns' is one of *those* albums - it should be found in everyones CD collection, and listened to religiously. They are hymns, after all!
The Verve have achieved something spectacular here. Each and every song on the album is a cracker, and together they form a cohesive whole. There is a flow between songs that is just *right*.
The songs themselves range from the catchy (but possibly somewhat longwinded) 'Bittersweet Symphony' to the contemplative, in 'The Drugs Don't Work'. However, it is when you move on from the hit singles that an album often reveals its true colours. Are the other tracks merely filler? Well, here, the answer is quite clearly "NO!" Particular highlights are the mood swings of 'Velvet Morning', the soaring triumphalism of 'Lucky Man', the melancholy of 'One Day' and the developing fury of 'Come On'.
All the tracks have clearly recieved a lot of love and effort, as the quality of production for this album is first rate. The ambient sounds and textures wrung out of guitars and electronics make this a CD you will always find something new to hear at every playing. The quality of the lyrics matches the quality of the music - there is not a bad line to be found. So, there you have it, an album scarily close to perfection.
All in all, an amazing, essential album.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest albums ever made, 24 Dec 2011
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
1997 saw big releases from Radiohead, Oasis, The Prodigy and The Verve. For my tastes, as a so called `old school' indie lover of earnest people making `jingly jangly' music of quality , it was the last reliably good year with only sporadic examples after that, many by the same artists who had been on the go since the 80s and early 90s (and even 60s in the case of The Beatles who released Free as a Bird).

I'd love to be able to write a review about how Urban Hymns is overrated. Bittersweet Symphony uses a riff from The Rolling Stones? Yes, but The Verve's song is very different. Anyway, repeated listens reveal that Urban Hymns does not come across as a football terrace anthem kind of album despite what the image of Richard Ashcroft nonchalantly brushing past passerbys in the Bittersweet Symphony video might suggest to some. Instead, Urban Hymns , with its experimental numbers such as Catching the Butterfly and Neon Wilderness, more closely comes to a combination of Brian Wilson's painterly way of using music in Smile. These songs, unlike any others that I have ever heard, capture the strange Brutalist atmosphere of a town or city. But the album is not just mining the 'isn't modern life grim and awful' angle. They find a magic in that kind of feeling. They are extraordinary pieces of music and the whole album should be regarded as like a modern piece of classical music. True, some songs do seem to be essentially the same kind of tune rewritten (The Rolling People and Catching the Butterfly) but it is a luxury that is welcome on this album.
One great thing about this album is the way that there is a stretch between The Drugs Don't Work and Lucky Man where there are 4 songs of a spacey experimental feel. Lucky Man then acts as a kind of coming down to earth. The final 2 songs, `Velvet Morning' and `Come On' are two of the finest closing songs on any album. They epitomise the kind of quiet desperation that must have enveloped the band as, knowing their own talent, they struggled to get it noticed and find this voice as a band, a voice that resulted in one of the finest British albums. `And now I'm trying to tell you about my life and my tongue is more twisted and more dead than alive and my feelings they've always been betrayed and I was born a little damaged man and look what they made. I said don't you find that it's lonely, the corridor you walk there alone. And life is a game you've tried. And life is a game you're tired'. I must be feeling low I talked to god in a phonebox on my way home'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The album that Be Here Now should have been., 29 Jun 2009
By 
T.K "Tom" (Stoke,England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
In 1997 bands like Blur,Oasis,U2 and Radiohead were releasing long awaited albums, it's more suprising that the band who would come out of 1997 on top of the world would be a band who just 2 years before were on the verge of splitting up(although Radiohead fans might disagree), The Verve would release Urban Hymns in 1997 the sort of career defining album that Oasis should have released instead of Be Here Now. Apart from the odd stinker this album is among the greatest of the Britpop era. Songs like Bittersweet Symphony became the anthem of the year something Wonderwall was 2 years before, then The Drugs Don't Work was released the same day Princess Diana died and it suddenly captured the spirit of the nation and soon wen't to number 1, although nothing on the album captures the genius of these two tracks, there are some great songs on this album espcially the loud and brilliant rocker Come On and The Rolling People,spacey songs like Weeping Willow and Velvet Morning and lovely ballads like Sonnet and Lucky Man, this album has everything that perhaps Be Here Now doesn't great songs,great lyrics and more importantly it has recognition.

Key Tracks:Bittersweet Symphony,Sonnet,Rolling People,Drugs Don't Work,Space and Time,Lucky Man,Come On

Also Buy:(What's the Story)Morning Glory? by Oasis
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This UK pressing is far superior to the 2008 Capitol vinyl, 16 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Urban Hymns [12" VINYL] (Vinyl)
I had recently purchased the 2008 Capitol re-issue of Urban Hymns on vinyl. Although there are quite a few decent pressings from Capitol, this didn't appear to be one of them. There was plenty of surface noise, even after a thorough cleaning with the GEM Dandy Analog cleaner.
I've always found UK vinyl to be of exceptional quality and that's thanks to vinyl never dying in the UK anywhere near as much as it did throughout the nineties and into the "00"s in North America. So I decided to check on Amazon UK and found a copy of the original 1997 UK pressing with a very reasonable price and ridiculously low transatlantic shipping.
I've since sold the Capitol pressing - this UK pressing is so much quieter and overall has more depth and fidelity leading me to believe that the Capitol pressing was not actually pressed from the original master or was tweaked somehow in the process. The album is the same, spread over two LP's so that inner grooves are not used as much and fidelity is not compromised. Much like the UK pressing of Forth this is vinyl at its best, sheer sonic bliss. I'd highly recommend this pressing over the Capitol release and it will only cost you about $5 more if you're in North America over the domestic pressing. Music as good as this shouldn't suffer.
Now if only they'd do new pressings of A Storm In Heaven and A Northern Soul, hands down the finest works from The Verve (Verve), complete with all studio out-takes and B-Sides in deluxe packages complete with high resolution 5.1 mixes...I'd be a happy camper.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECTION, 18 April 2005
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
Veru rarey do i get to hear an album where i can say that word - perfection. However, this album is a true exception. From one of the best singles ever created, 'Biter Sweet Symphony'; through to the last track 'Come On', every track is so great that there is not one that I would ever skip. The production of this album is amazing, and on each listen you hear a different sound effect you never heard before. Matching perfectly with Ashcroft voice and lyrics, this album is one that every huge music fan should own - its simply a classic. I only wish I had appricated this album on its release rather then in 2005, but i suppose this proves its an album that will live on forever...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Great Album of The 90's, 8 Jun 2004
By 
Magic Lemur (Somewhere in Madagascar) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
The year this came out, so did albums by Prodigy, Oasis, Blur and Radiohead. This album was the sound of the summer.
The sheer emotion of the lyrics and the beauty of the songs were something that hadn't been around in England since Joy Division or before.

Songs of such intensity are still lacking today and song writers write songs that sell, not realising they can never package singing from the heart.

This album is brilliant for love and best after a nite clubbing when you need a calm thoughtful album. Unlike some it is not too miserable and is like a Soft Rock Eminem in the way it conveys feelings in a contemplative not moaning way.

Definitely an album 2 own if you have any pretence of music taste!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those "must have" albums., 25 April 2003
This review is from: Urban Hymns (Audio CD)
Urban Hymns is one of those albums that is always a pleaseure to listen to. I myself had never even heard of The Verve until Bittersweet Symphony was released in the spring of '97, but that track alone offered a glimpe of the distinctive vocals of Richard Ashcroft, and I was sold. To be honest, when I listened to the album at first, only 3 tracks really stood out - Bittersweet Symphony, Lucky Man and The Drugs Don't Work. But listen again and you then appreciate the haunting vocals of Velvet Morning and Sonnet, and the brash, bullying sound of Come On. This album is a fine mixture of slow melodic, chill-out tracks and infectous lyrics that you can't avoid singing. I would certainly advise that you own this album, as it can lift you up when you need it, and console you when nothing else will. A must have.
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