100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #78 Verve – A Man Called Sun

Released : 1993

Just a few years later they would be superstars, burnouts, enemies, but in the earlier part of the decade the band who would became less simply The Verve were spangled purveyors of psychedelic rock, their music full of cavernous holes in which to get lost and with Richard Ashcroft, in posession of a shamanic front man who sometimes took to the stage barefoot and transcendent, apparently in the guise of an apprentice messiah.

The truth may have been a little less prosaic, but whilst there was a hint of self indulgence to the Wiganers earlier work, it also had raw beauty, power and a weird kind of innocence, the rave generation’s hubris spun into a hippie throwback, music in search of a universe it could call home. For the band’s emaciated totem Ashcroft there was a circle to be squared; “As for drugs, they are like a good drink with a good meal..” he would once claim, a literal join the dots philosophy which was to embrace openly what was at first their muse and then later, nemesis.

If narcotics took people somewhere, then on A Man Called Sun they pointed the way to a hillside temple. Led by a jazz-like, roving bass line, everything else, from Ashcroft’s devotional whisper to Nick McCabe’s entranced guitar blurred with ecstatic haze, the song a devotional in a phase shifted technicolor dream key, an early morning prayer said by candlelight. Just a few years later it would all end in bitterness before a new beginning, but for then as long as the man called sun was there, it felt like the future might never come.