Sunday, 5 June 2011

BAD ALBUMS: Richard Ashcroft - RPA & The United Nations Of Sound

Bad albums. We're not talking about serious crimes against music and we won't waste time talking about the manufactured pop acts and tedious rappers. What I'm talking about here is bad albums produced by people you'd expect to show some quality.

First up is Richard Ashcroft's turd of a comeback album.

Having released three solo albums to mixed reactions from critics and fans, Ashcroft and the rest of The Verve reformed briefly, releasing an album 'Forth' in 2007, which showed this man could still write great songs. But after the band split up yet again, Ashcroft made plans to return to his solo career backed by a new group called the United Nations Of Sound (essentially some session musicians)This is a baffling record. Some of it is poorly written AOR with some hip hop beats bolted on top in an attempt to make it sound different. There is absolutely no trace of the class, style and brilliance of The Verve on these tracks.

On 'UNOS' he sounds completely lost and uninspired while completely out of his comfort zone. Unnatural songs that go absolutely nowhere. This is the sound of a failed experiment. Halfway through the making of it Ashcroft should've done the sensible thing and admitted to himself that this experiment had failed. But no, he was determined to waste time on this utter dud of an album. So we get the rambling Aphrodite's Child rip-off 'Are You Ready?', the awful John Lee Hooker rip off 'How Deep Is Your Man' and the irritating 'Born Again' with its appallingly shit lyrics ("I saw Venus up in the sky, turned my head and Serena smiled")

If that wasn't bad enough the rest of the album is peppered with Ashcroft cliches about "life" and "music", used so often the words become meaningless. And as usual there's the lyrics about things that are in his mind or on his mind, this time it's "I want to ride in my mind" on the turgid 'Royal Highness'. It's a shame he couldn't use all the things in his mind to come up with a decent album. Maybe he should dig a bit deeper into his mind next time.  Elsewhere there's the boring AOR of 'This Thing Called Life', which islike 'Urban Hymns' watered down to such an extent it sounds like he collaborated with the Lighthouse Family, and worst of all, the ridiculous 'Life Can Be So Beautiful', which sounds like a sad northerner trying to get the kids to understand him by attempting to sound like Justin Timberlake or Usher.

'She Brings Me The Music' could've been great if it wasn't so slushy and polished, and 'Let My Soul Rest' with its nice strings sounds good compared to everything else here, but unremarkable compared to any of Ashcroft's previous albums.

After this debacle of an album, which was met with understandable indifference from critics and fans, Ashcroft seems to have gone back into his default mode, which is basically playing solo acoustic shows, singing songs that are mostly well over a decade old. And unless he can ever come up with anything as he did over a decade ago, then perhaps providing 1990's nostalgia is his best option.

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