Richard Ashcroft – United Nations of Sound

January 01, 1970

(Razor
& Tie)

 

www.razorandtie.com

 

It’s
so easy to hate the brightest kid in the class, especially when he’s filled
with self confidence. In the world of rock, Richard Ashcroft is clearly near
the top of contemporary rockers’ Dean’s List. Combine his artistry and
confidence with what Ashcroft said is the misguided belief that he torpedoed
the Verve and you have the makings for some real school yard name calling.

 

That’s
my best guess about why some critics have gone out of their way to trash
Ashcroft’s United Nations of Sound as
something akin to paint-by-numbers rock. Ignore them. Right from the first
notes, the listener is launched on a high-speed rock journey that not only
necessitates seat belts but perhaps shoulder harnesses too. Ashcroft’s big,
bold vocals lead the way on “Are You Ready,” a shamelessly defiant
rocker that is fueled by rapid-fire guitars and strings. You can feel the light
production touches of No I.D., who is known for his work with Common, Kanye
West and Jay-Z. This album doesn’t veer into true urban territory but it’s
plenty street savvy. “Born Again,” Ashcroft’s song about rising up
from the rock ashes, is another heavy-duty guitar-driven rocker but with a
lighter beat and more pop overtones. It’s a decent song but I prefer the
no-holds-barred rock on the softly played “Glory.” No, United Nations of Sound isn’t a Born in the U.S.A rock classic. But it
has plenty of alt-rock sounds to make it a stand out.

 

Much
has been made about the religious themes in this set of songs. Think of the
music by Patti Smith – including, of course, her famous lyric “Jesus died
for somebody’s sins, but not mine” on “Gloria” – and you’ll have
an idea of Ashcroft’s use of religious words and symbolism. Quibble if you
want, but that doesn’t mean Ashcroft isn’t still at the top of his class.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Are You Ready,” “Born Again” NANCY DUNHAM

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