The Verve Urban Hymns (Super Deluxe Edition) (Virgin/UMe) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, February 25th, 2024  

The Verve

Urban Hymns (Super Deluxe Edition)


Dec 19, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In 1997, there were three monumental British albums that caught the imagination of fans on both sides of the Atlantic. While Radiohead (on their way to becoming one of the world’s biggest bands) released the career-making OK Computer and Spiritualized put out the groundbreaking Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, The Verve took angsty lyrics, their own much improved songwriting from Richard Ashcroft, and Funkadelic/CAN-like fuzz and repetition to the top of the U.K. charts and made a significant dent in the American charts as well on the back of songs like “Bitter Sweet Symphony.” The song, with its prominent (and unfortunately for them, notoriously costly) string sample from an orchestral version of The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” remains both a U.K. standard and a touchstone for those of us here in America looking to the U.K. for music better than the dull post-grunge being pushed by so-called “alternative” radio.

But what of the rest of Urban Hymns? “The Drugs Don’t Work” is arguably even better and songs like “The Rolling People,” “Weeping Willow,” and “Velvet Morning” mix Britpop, psychedelia, dreampop, and anthemic, U2-like stadium rock to dizzyingly great effect. “This Time” is a moment of self-affirmation while “Catching the Butterfly” and “Neon Wilderness” retained the band’s more experimental tendencies from their earlier work (such as 1993’s debut album A Storm in Heaven). Twenty years on, Urban Hymns is still a classic.

It is presented here on disc one while disc two contains the album’s B-sides (previously released on singles and EPs) and several remixes. Disc three consists mostly of a six-song BBC Evening Session recorded near the album’s release date, though only “The Drugs Don’t Work” is played from the album. Still, like the live material found on discs four and five (from Haigh Hall, the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., Brixon Academy, and Manchester Academy), it shows not only their prowess as a live band, but their renewed confidence as well. Buoyed by their then recent success, Ashcroft introduces “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (the last song of the main set at Haigh Hall) as a “song of the people” while defiantly claiming that it was “stolen, but not by us.” Material from older albums, like the 9:30 Club version of title track on their sophomore album A Northern Soul, is also revisited here as well. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a DVD consisting of an appearance on iconic British late night music show Later… with Jools Holland, the full Haigh Hall performance (including encore), and the promotional videos, several of which received quite a bit of airplay on MTV when they were originally released.

As with most such box sets, this is an exhaustive, comprehensive, and occasionally exhausting listen given its sheer scope and volume. Furthermore, it could be argued that most fans would just be satisfied with the original version, especially as there are no truly previously unreleased bonus tracks on here (diehard fans likely already own the B-sides and remixes). However, for those who dig deep and want it all, one can’t really argue with the quality of most of the music here. This is The Verve at their very finest and while the album would go on to influence mostly inferior versions of this combination of styles, it was never done better than it was here. (

Author rating: 9/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 0/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

driving directions
December 19th 2017

To find a website where the quality of audio and images to satisfy it is very difficult. And today I want to share a website with people watching. Movies extremely fine but completely free. View offline ..!

February 1st 2018

And today I want to share a website with people watching. Movies extremely fine but completely free. View offline ..!

February 7th 2018


batman vs superman cosplay
June 30th 2018

I love your work very very much. It is do amazing.

phoenix concrete pros
November 1st 2018

I still remember this urban hymn. It means so much to our family. The Verve never fades in music quality!

concrete contractors rochester mn
November 1st 2018

The Verve should still be known. It influenced our culture!

Chad Brinkle
April 22nd 2020

Love this work, please keep posting as the quality is great