[Italian version here]

Reviewer: Bevan Court - TNT USA
Reviewed: January, 2022

The nineties. The time of my musical coming of age. They say that much of your musical taste is defined in your early to mid teens and this was my time.

Three of my favourite albums of that time were massive, 2 were global commercial successes and the other was a massive success in my native England, relaunching the career of a British national treasure.

So what were they?

Alanis Morissette's “Jagged Little Pill”, the Verve's “Urban Hymns” and Paul Weller's “Wild Wood”.

“Wild Wood” was released in 1992, “Jagged Little Pill” was released in June of 1995 and “Urban Hymns” came along in 1997. Each has big memories for a young lad born in East Sussex and just discovering this thing called music.

And each of these artists has recorded a re-working of their best work. Two are very recently released and one is new to me, despite being recorded a few years ago.

Now, I am usually against artists re-recording their own works - it often seems either financially motivated or they are trying to fix something from when they originally recorded it. But, this is how we have come to know and love the song. Changing it, changes my emotional attachment to the song.

However, these three recordings, appear to not be an aging artist trying to go back to the trough that started everything, but a genuinely inspiring take on their old songs.

Paul Weller

In 1992, I was just finishing high school, about to turn 16. I was placed at a local pharmaceutical company on work experience and was in their chemistry lab. It was exciting for about a day, but it wasn't long before I realized this wasn't for me.

My memory, though, was of one of the twenty something guys who worked there getting really excited about going to see some singer called Paul Weller at a local gig in Eastbourne. I filed it away for reference and a weekend or two later, on a Saturday morning, the single “Wild Wood” was on the TV and I was hooked. I had no idea that Paul Weller had been the front man of the Jam and the Style Council and was reinventing himself into what he would be affectionately known as in the UK from that point on as “The Modfather”.

Later, I would buy the album on CD and wow. Even now, this is one of my favourite albums, there is an energy and passion about this album that covers the fact that it has some indie nineties production foibles. Even now, having seen him live a number of times, and many albums later, he is still relevant to the British music scene and making commercially successful albums.

And he has just released an album taking his best songs from a career spanning four decades and has recorded them with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jules Buckley. This isn't a grand reworking of rock songs with a full orchestra, but takes some of his more acoustic, introspective pieces and adds texture. His voice isn't what it was back in the early nineties, but it still conveys his love for these songs, without losing the energy or the passion and the recording is simply lovely. I thoroughly recommend trying it out - even if you are new to his work.

Alanis Morissette

Amazingly, I remember hearing the big single from this album, “You Oughta Know” when I was at my first part time job in a mailroom. I was working with Alan, one of the full time employees one day when it came on the radio. He turned it up, sang along, and added the explicit lyrics extremely loudly, punctuating it by throwing a roll of old labels across the room.

“Jagged Little Pill” is an angst riddled album that probably needs no introduction, being one of the biggest albums of the nineties. Alanis Morrisette would never quite hit that level again, though her 'MTV Unplugged' album and her cover of Seal's “Crazy” are worth checking out.

But in 2005, on the twentieth anniversary of the album release, she released an acoustic version. This was a direct copy and re-working, replacing Flea and David Navarro (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), who recorded the original album with her, with a much more laid back arrangement, including violin and cello.

I have only recently discovered this, but again, the angry young Alanis has matured and mellowed, but still loves these songs and gives them a re-working and records them in a way that sounds simply beautiful. Now, having seen her in concert this last year, that angry young Alanis can still be tapped when she is needed - it wasn't a case that she needed to re-work the songs to make them easier to play live. Again, it feels like a labor of love.

The Verve

Again, another album with strong memories for me. I remember hearing “Bittersweet Symphony” on a moonlit night as I was driving home from Wales with a friend. We had just hit Sussex and were within an hour of home and it was so uplifting, the music literally soared.

And what an album they recorded, a band full of conflict and passions, produced one of the greatest nineties albums from a British band. It was also, very definitely not a Britpop album, with pretty good recording, mastering and production for the time. It was just a shame that the band imploded so soon after. Richard Ashcroft went on to have a pretty decent solo career afterwards, but never again achieving the heights that they hit with this album.

Time rolls around and in October of 2021, Richard Ashcroft releases “Acoustic Hymns, Vol 1”. Now, while Alanis Morrisette was pretty faithful to the album, Richard Ashcroft culls a few songs, replacing them with a few of his later solo records in. With the exception of “A Song for Lovers”, the real stand out tracks are those from “Urban Hymns”.

The swaggering egotistical, young man has been replaced by a slightly more mature version, one sure in his craft, confident that these songs are as good as he thought they were originally recorded.

Now, it is apparent that his voice is not what it was. It doesn't soar over “Bittersweet Symphony” as it once did, but his voice now adds a little gravel into the song and it isn't the worst for it. On other tracks, singing in a lower key actually adds a richness and more feeling to the vocals. But the amazing thing is the way that he uses acoustic instruments to match the grand scales that the songs had with the full amplified band. It is also done with wonderful recording and mastering, the instruments are all placed well and easily defined.


I used to think that artists going back and re-recording songs was some sort of sacrilege (David Coverdale, I am talking about you). Maybe, if it is done with a love for the music in mind, and in these cases, an almost reverence, then maybe it can be done not only successfully, but as a perfect compliment to the original album.

Please don't get me wrong, these re-workings are not replacements for the original albums, but a wonderful companion that can be enjoyed with or without it at any time. I can only suggest that you try them out - click on the links to see the albums on Spotify.

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