Whipple’s School of Rock

Hear ye, hear ye, Colgate students. The Verve and The Verve Pipe are two entirely different bands, in case you didn’t know. This is an important piece of pop culture knowledge from our middle-school days. True, both bands were technically “one-hit wonders,” but the principle difference is that, while The Verve was good (great even), The Verve Pipe was so hilariously awful that it made them good. Noteworthy songs by The Verve include “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (that song you love from Cruel Intentions), “The Drugs Don’t Work,” and “Lucky Man” (now of The Girl Next Door soundtrack fame). They were a great rock band, but unfortunately they broke up shortly after the release of their 1997 unapologetically psychedelic Urban Hymns album, which features all of these songs. The breakup is due largely to the band’s sampling of an orchestral arrangement by rock producer Andrew Loog Oldham of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.” The band was subsequently sued for royalties when “Bitter Sweet Symphony” hit the airwaves. The liner notes of Urban Hymns now list the composers of the Verve’s breakout single as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as a result. Tension within the band over this turmoil in the late 1990s, as well as the owners of the rights to “Bitter Sweet Symphony” allowing its use in Nike commercials despite its tragic and anti-capitalist sentiments, led to the band’s demise. Former lead singer, Richard Ashcroft, now enjoys a successful solo career. The Verve Pipe, on the other hand, sang “The Freshman” (“For the life of me … we were only freshmen …” etc.) For those who do not remember the epic sound of The Verve Pipe from the days of eighth grade “room-for-the-Holy-Spirit” slow dancing, imagine Godsmack covering The Goo Goo Dolls. The Verve Pipe did not do “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” nor did The Verve do “The Freshman.” That would be backwards, and downright silly. If this revelation causes a discrepancy in your iTunes library, please fix it, or I just may come looking for you.How does this relate to my musical tastes now, you ask? Where does it all come together? The Verve was a very influential band during the sometimes-referred-to-as “Second British Invasion” of the mid-to-late 1990s, along with contemporaries like Radiohead, Blur and Supergrass. Upon releasing Urban Hymns, The Verve was praised alongside Radiohead as the most important band to come out of the UK at the time. You like Coldplay, right? Sure you do! Everyone does! They’re rock’s version of vanilla ice cream. Coldplay fans can thank Ashcroft and Thom Yorke of Radiohead for inspiring young Chris Martin to form a right-proper pop group, no matter how much he may swear that the minor chords, delay effects and green laser light shows came from Tom Waits or Woody Guthrie. I suppose The Stone Roses and The Smiths had something to do with it as well, but that’s a column for another day. Now, go listen to The Verve, and enjoy. The Verve Pipe is good for a laugh, too, I suppose.