Unbelievably, in the early days of The Verve, Richard Ashcroft used to be referred to as Mad Richard; but to me he will always be a Dick.
The first two Verve LPs attracted little but derision or non-interest from critics and public alike. They were tuneless and grating LPs with no charm or finesse and it was only a blatant act of theft that changed their fortunes when Bittersweet Symphony blasted them into public consciousness. Listening to the 6 Music interview with Steve Lamacq reminded me of just how pompous and arrogant a creature Ashcroft is. He talked about Urban Hymns as if it was the Sermon from the Mount which he had not only brought down to be shared with his followers but had also written as well. He dismissed the involvement of any other members of the band and claimed it as a solo album before inviting the band to record it with him. He must have spent five minutes talking about Bittersweet Symphony conveniently forgetting that such was the plagiarism of the song from The Rolling Stones that 100% of the royalties earned from the song had to be given to the rightful artists he stole it from in the first place. He claimed the most important part of the video for the single was the exclusive trainers he wore for it – how’s that for a sense of artistic priority. He is a preening, narcissistic jackanapes (just how dull must Jason Spiritualized have been for Kate Radley to leave him for Ashcroft).
In the same Classic Album slot a week later, Mick Jones and Paul Simenon displayed intelligence, humour and SELF-DEPRECATION (you probably need to look the word up, Dick) in their discussion about a true classic LP, London Calling, whilst all Ashcroft could manage was a trumpeting of his own imagined talent. Lucky Man indeed to have pulled the wool over so many people’s eyes and to have shouted long enough that his distinctly average LP, with a couple of decent songs on it and the rest filler, should be deemed a classic.
So what punishment can he be made to suffer to atone for his sins? With most people I would choose being isolated in a room, forced to listen to a playback of that interview and his droning voice on continuous replay until they are scratching at the walls with bloodied hands, promising to mend their ways. However, Dick would almost certainly enjoy the experience of listening to his own voice over and over. So the only thing we can do is to surgically remove his tongue ensuring the rest of us never have to listen to him again. Maybe he could use the tongue as a logo on the front of his next LP. Oh wait, someone’s already done that, haven’t they?