This 1997 collection makes for a fine accompaniment to the official album release, featuring many tracks that were recorded for Urban Hymns but failed to make the final cut.
That's not to say this makes for a poor listen: because it doesn't.
To say The Verve were hot in 1997 is a gross understatement; they could have recorded 'Agadoo' at that time and it would no doubt have made for an interesting listen.
But there really are some great tracks here, and they could easily have got an e.p. out of this material.
Perhaps the tension was just too much; and with history repeating itself Ashcroft, McCabe and co had to go their separate ways.
There has always been a bi-polar-like duality evident within The Verve's music - most obvious on the Urban Hymns album - veering from the one extreme: a psychedelic styled, kick-ass, gutsy rock band, to another: a singer-songwriter with accompanying musicians.
That opposition is well represented here, as it is made up pretty much fifty-fifty of Verve tracks and Ashcroft songs; several of which he went on to record as solo projects.
There are several familiar tunes here, including a tasty, crisp, live sounding and untweeked recording of 'Space and Time' for openers.
The psychedelic styled roots of the band's music can certainly be heard on several of the tracks, and are perhaps best captured during these early stages of recording.
Tracks such as the instrumental 'One Before Dinner' and the hooky numbers 'A Little Bit of Love' and 'Come On People (We're Making It Now)' allow the band to really shine, proving what a tight, smart, organised rock band The Verve truly were.
With the extra guitar added to the band's pallet, when The Verve kicked-ass and really got down to it a much fuller and richer sound was produced; McCabe's gorgeous, controlled, swirling feedback always lifting and rising; forcing up the tempo, peaking, and finally crashing forward into a heady rush to the end.
For what this is - a bootleg recording from the master smuggled out of the studio - the quality is exceptionally good, and captures The Verve in the studio in a particularly authentic way.
If you are a fan of the band, and especially a fan of this period, this recording is essential, and for some reason still seems to be in very short supply.
The Verve - Urban Hymns Sessions (1997)
Space and Time
A Song For the Lovers
One Before Dinner
Misty Morning June
Lord I've Been Trying
The Drugs Don't Work
Come On People (We're Making It Now)
A Little Bit Of Love
Lord I Guess I'll Never Know
One More For the Lovers
It Takes Two
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