Portfolio RICHARD ASHCROFT, LAS VEGAS
They never get mentioned as a Britpop band, do they? And yet The Verve were active at the same time as Blur and Oasis. It’s just that they were a little off the pace, a little over to the side. Back then lead singer Richard Ashcroft was known as Mad Richard and nobody really took them seriously.
But no sooner had Britpop crashed and burned (somewhere around the time everyone realised what a coked-up, bloated thing the third Oasis album Be Here Now was), it was the Verve who stepped in and took over with the release of Urban Hymns 20 years ago this month.
The band’s leery-yet-teary brand of laddishness, as displayed on singles such as Bittersweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work, formed the template for all those who came after them, from Embrace to Coldplay.
Chris Floyd’s photographs of the band on the road, gathered together in a new book, are in one way a mapping of the band’s rise. As Michael Holden suggests in the foreword: “What you can see here is the group’s journey from thrilled outsiders to bona fide phenomenon.”
But they’re also a snapshot in time. Here is the moment when Britain went Blairy, when the country was cocky and full of itself but maybe, too, a little more in touch with its own emotions. The Verve provided the soundtrack.
The Verve: Photographs by Chris Floyd is published by Reel Art Press, priced £29.95. Visit reelartpress.com