Friday, October 28, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 245: Richard Ashcroft - Alone with Everybody

By: March

Album – Alone With Everybody
Artist – Richard Ashcroft
Key Players – Richard Ashcroft – guitars, bass, drums, percussion
Produced By – Chris Potter and Richard Ashcroft

Release Date – June 27, 2000 (US)

What caused me to blow off the dust? - For some reason I just started humming one of the tracks off this records.

Overview – This was the first solo record released by singer Richard Ashcroft. Ashcroft, at the time, had come off the disbanding of the group he fronted “The Verve”. Ashcroft would play the bulk of the instruments and surround himself with a series of others to create the record. Ashcroft would also take a few leftover Verve tracks for this record.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 11 song, just under 60 minute album opens with “A Song for the Lovers”. Filled with strings that are then complimented by trumpet (Duncan Mackay). Ashcroft comes up and has a particular drawl to his voice. He sings in a fluid baritone and strums the guitar as it starts to get a little busier musically. The lyrics are sung a little on the speedy side for a song with this feel. A strong album opener that wouldn't alienate listeners of Ashcrofts prior band. There is some extended full band moments as well. This is a solid opener. “I Get My Beat” continues with the quiet string intro. Flutes and trumpets are also present. Ashcroft plays a laid back choppier acoustic. Playing more short chords the supporting players seem to get more of a look over. Judd Lander offers up some harmonica fills while Jim Hunt will swap between saxophone and flute. Ashcroft strums his guitar as “Brave New World” begins. BJ Cole offers up some very laid back slide guitar that adds a haunting feel to the track. Pino Palladino joins on bass and adds a very solid bass line. The tone of his bass notes just grab the ears as he and Cole really seem to shine. Cole gets a little more room as the chorus approaches as well as after. The album has not really opened up to this point, we are getting some pretty acoustic lead tracks and that is an okay thing. One of the tracks taken from The Verve was “New York”. Palladino and Cole both return on this track. A slow to build track before drummer Peter Salisbury sets it in motion. This is the first more “rocking” song on the record. It is a welcome change of pace. Ashcroft seems to be pushing himself and the guitars have that bit of distortion that gives it a little dirt. Ashcroft also does some harmonies with himself on some looped and delayed backing vocal portions. These are the parts you long to have repeated and they go ahead and do that. Chuck Leavell plays the hammond organ as “You on My Mind In My Sleep” begins. Complimented with strings and then switching to piano Ashcroft joins and sings the first verse. Drummer Peter Salisbury rolls across and the track seems to dig in. Ashcroft seems hesitant at times to really get going. His songs have feeling and emotion, but he tends to let the whole experience take you in. Cole on Slide guitar, the piano and organ from Leavell as well as the “just at the right time” Palladino bass fill. A pretty song indeed. BJ Cole continues to be a strong force on the record as “Crazy World” gets underway. Steve Sidelnk is on percussion and seems to be in a rush, pushing everyone to join him. Salisbury is along for the ride Ashcroft is capable of singing at this quick pace and offers a real nice change between tracks. The backing players continue to shine, he really did a strong job finding such a great supporting cast. We slow it down again, seems to be the trend here, with “On A Beach”. There is not a lot of new ground here. Pretty guitars, nice slide guitar, strong bass work cap it off with strings or horns. Hands down my favorite track on the record comes with “Money To Burn”. Almost starting with a country feel heavy on the harmonica from Judd Lander. Ashcroft seems pointed on his vocal and when the hook of the chorus comes its just excellent. There is just something that strikes a chord with me personally when he “ooohhhhhhh baby's” in to “my sweeeeeeeeeet savior” etc. The congas, the bass, the harmonica with the string fills are great. On the liner notes there is no indication of backing vocalists so it leads one to believe that the vocals were mixed and Ashcroft as a solo work. Easily the song I'd play for any new listener first. Ashcroft has a thing on this record for five plus minute tracks which makes the 3:44 track “Slow Was My Heart” sort of unusual. Again, we go back to a much more mellow track. Still, a very listenable track but Ashcroft seems confident in his co-players that he almost wants to show them off. Another track rumored to be left over from the Verve is “C'mon People (We're Making It Now)”. Ashcroft opens with a bouncing piano line before the bass and drums join in. Ashcroft seems very comfortable and capable with us craft. I never knew personally how much he can play with regard to instruments. He may not be some virtuoso player, but he really seems to focus on his talents and won't overdo it. I personally find his uptempo songs, like this, just more fun. The album concludes with “Everybody”. Keeping with the uptempo/downtempo tracks we end on a more somber but musically competent conclusion.

Where are they now? - Ashcroft has released three solo records and is a member of the band “RPA & The United Nations who released a record in July 2010.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I have never seen Richard Ashcroft as a solo performer.

FDF Overall Take - Ashcroft has a great voice, even under rated perhaps. There are some real gems on here and its a record you could put on an not be embarrassed to play, or own. I'd like a little more "rocking" like New York and the like, but it was his debut solo trying to give him room to spread his wings. Solid effort.

Official site is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The album can still be purchased here.


At 12:56 PM, Blogger Trevor Jones said...

Love it; I'll be up in the attic looking for this one.
I know that when the Verve's guitarist left BJ Cole was draughted in for the remainder of that tour.
BJ Cole was recording with me at the time (with Miracle Mile) and I remember him raving about this record (and BJ doesn't do 'raving'). He's all over 'Song For the Lovers'. My favourite Ashcroft solo moment 'Buy it in Bottles' is elsewhere; I love it when he comes off all Neil Diamondish... although (in my humble) he's still yet to match the majesty of 'The Drugs Don't Work'....

At 10:47 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

Thanks for the comment Trevor. I worked in Boston radio for a bit and we played a few from this record. Richard came in studio but I wasn't there for his in studio performance. I am 99% sure I have a copy and should post it up.

I'll have to check out some of your work as well. Thanks again for the comment.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Trevor Jones said...

My pleasure.
I remember Coldplay's Chris Martin proclaiming Ashcroft "the best singer in the world" and haven't heard from him since.
KIss of death?


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