I've been getting (even more) in touch with my anal-retentive side by listening to my cds in their entirety in alpha order. Being a purist, if I miss part of a song by even stepping outside the room for a few seconds, I start the song over (just another example of how I make things difficult for myself by being over-purist about weird, inconsequential things. That's a whole seperate story, though).
Although I mostly enjoyed the Arab Strap Five CD Trail of Tears, I have to admit my mood noticably improved on Archers of Loaf day. I was looking forward (I'm almost ashamed to say it...I SHOULD be ashamed to say it) to the Richard Ashcroft twinset. As Ashcroft Eve became Ashcroft Day, my face lit up just imagining the gospel chorus from "I Get My Beat". I was especially happy about Human Conditions, as I hadn't actually heard any of it yet, it being a very recent purchase.
I guess I can't really be blamed for my bright-eyed, innocent false hope, seeing as how I've never listened with much interest to Alone With Everybody past about, oh, let's say track 6. Unlike other records that start "big" and kind of wind down, like Roxy Music's self-titled, this album simply crashes and burns into a giant heap of smoking, stinking steel. My love for "I Get My Beat" emerged from the wreckage unmarred, but I'll definitely be sporting some emotional scars for a while re: the last half of the album.
Nothing, however, could prepare me for Human Conditions. Not even the lyric "It keeps on turning/yeah yeah/for everyone/You keep on learning/yeah yeah/to kiss the sun" (although Slow Was My Heart can be effective as a sort of boot camp to Human Conditions if played repeatedly). A lot of this album seems like aural masturbation. And not you, the listener, masturbating. Oh no. It's Richard Ashcroft masturbating onto a microphone, recording it, adding a ten minute harmonica break and charging you sixteen dollars for the sad, sticky result.
Okay, that was a little mean. This is hard for me. I've spent a lot of time and energy and cool points backing this man up, fighting this man's battles for him. And all for what? For an extended, tooth-gnashing saxophone solo. It's just a big letdown for me, that's all, and I'm sorry.
Beautiful cover art, though.
This is the thing: I love the Verve. I will still lay it all on the line for The Verve. "Lucky Man" is fantastic, beautiful, brilliant. I'm just going to have to draw the line at Richard Ashcroft's solo career.
Or perhaps right after "I Get My Beat".
Richard in better days. Pretty, innee?
(Anyone else think he looks a bit like Brian Slade?)
***Edited 7/19/03: Maybe I'm just a pussy who can't stand to be unequivocally negative, but I've just listened to Human Conditions again and it's not that bad. I think I was mostly concerned about the lyrics and the fact that it's not Urban Hymns: Part II; and I often have over-production issues. And that's stupid. Ashcroft's got a beautiful voice and he's ambitious (albeit sometimes overly so, in my opinion) and cares about what he does. He aims high. That's not necessarily bad, it's actually sort of inspirational and sweet. The "seize the day" and "reach for the stars" motifs are definitely well-represented in his work, along with the "it's a beautiful world" one, and I appreciate a wide-eyed, naive, child-like heart to go along with the whole arrogant, beautiful, over-ambitious rock-star image. It's like a spoonful of sugar. He's the real deal, in some ways...isn't that what it's all about? I should probably mention I'm drunk.
__________________Bonus: Go here for an intro that makes no sense: http://www.ashcroftunofficial.co.uk/
I like to keep that one on my favorites list for those times I need a quick laugh.