Starting out as Verve (until the jazz label of the same name had a word), The Verve stumbled through a career of quite astonishing highs and lows - from the worldwide success of Urban Hymns (with it's ubiquitous Stones-sampling Bittersweet Symphony) to mental illness, breakdowns, three break ups, and most punishingly of all the preening disaster that was Richard Ashcroft's solo career.
Their first album 'A Storm In Heaven' is a swirling, dream-like affair with nods to Pink Floyd, and fits in beautifully with the shoegaze sound of the day. It's follow up 'A Northern Soul' was less successful. A dirge-like album of tortured soul, it reflected the state of the band at the time as Ashcroft suffered a relationship breakdown and drug-induced burn out. The album, though, was a bit of a slow-burning classic in some quarters and led the band to have the re-think that produced their most well known work. Urban Hymns spawned several hits including 'Sonnet', 'The Drugs Don't Work', 'Lucky Man' and of course 'Bittersweet Symphony' (used to this day as the intro music for England football matches). It's easy to sniff at these lad-friendly anthems, full of sentimental Northern British bombast, but listen to them on a good day and you will get caught up despite yourself.
Of course nothing is straightforward in the world of The Verve, and the band then broke up seemingly for good before reconvening in 2008 for an aptly titled album 'Forth' before splitting again. Richard Ashcroft has dabbled in a comical solo career whilst guitarist Simon Tong appeared with Damon Albarn in The Good The Bad and the Queen.