Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
RICHARD ASHCROFT | Alone with Everybody
Selected by Justin Chadwick
Breakthrough. Breakup. Such was the story of The Verve in the waning years of the 20th century, as they ascended to both critical and commercial heights following the release of their third long player Urban Hymns (1997), which, for whatever it’s worth, just so happens to be my all-time favorite album. Tensions within the band flared following Urban Hymns’ success, and they decided to call it a day in the spring of 1999 (though they later mounted a short-lived resurrection with the 2008 Forth LP).
“I put everything into it,” a confident Ashcroft intimated to Jo Whiley, upon the release of Alone with Everybody in the summer of 2000. “Soulful songs. It’s heavy music, it’s beautiful music…I’ve got my silly name on the front of the sleeve. Everything’s a first. So as a first solo album, I think it’s an achievement.”
Indeed, Alone with Everybody functioned as a creative rebirth for the rejuvenated Ashcroft, and offered proof positive that he had endured the band’s disintegration no worse for wear from a songwriting standpoint. Anyone expecting More Urban Hymns would have been sorely disappointed, as the absence of Nick McCabe’s distinctive, sprawling guitar work could never be replicated, and any attempt to catch that same lightning in a bottle would have bordered on hubris.
What Ashcroft did furnish, however, was an excellent set of thirteen inspired, ruminative songs that reinforced his vitality as a songwriter and introduced a more varied sonic palette that balanced some of the more grandiose, symphonic elements heard on his former band’s records (“A Song for the Lovers,” “Crazy World”) with warmer, more country-tinged fare (“I Get My Beat,” “You On My Mind In My Sleep,” “Money to Burn”).
UPDATE (11/9/18): Alone with Everybody was recently reissued on 180-gram double vinyl | Order your copy here: