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Released: September 1997

A song that balls a lump in your throat as bulky as, say, the Manics' 'Ocean Spray', Richard Ashcroft's heart-quaking song for his father, tackling the emotion of watching him succumb to cancer, 'The Drugs Don't Work' is a thing of devastatingly downbeat beauty. No-one does cheesy worse than Richard – as everyone who's heard his 'United Nations Of Sound' album knows – but back in 1997 he was the greatest songwriter in the UK making a nation weep with him. (JF)

How We Wrote 'The Drugs Don't Work
Richard Ashcroft

"There's a new track I've just written. It goes 'the drugs don't work, they just make me worse, and I know I'll see your face again'. That's how I'm feeling at the moment. They make me worse, man. But I still take 'em. Out of boredom and frustration you turn to something else to escape." (Select, 1995)

Chris Potter, producer, on his favourite track from the album 'Urban Hymn's:
"Probably 'The Drugs Don't Work', which is certainly the best song I've ever recorded. [Ashcroft's] vocal on that track is something else. There are quite a few really. I'm not actually putting it on the stereo at the moment, but I hear it every day. If you wander around you hear the whole thing anyway. I've had some mad moments with this record though. I went skiing in January and I was in a bar in Val d'Isere and this band came on doing covers and stuff. The second song they did was 'Lucky Man' and 'Drugs' was fourth. The first three minutes of 'Lucky Man' were bollocks but the end bit was really good. Their 'Drugs' wasn't much of a version though. Also that week I went way up into the mountains, where it's really peaceful and there was this little guy in a hut up there listening to 'Drugs' on the radio - right up in the mountains. I thought 'fuckin' 'ell, it's gone everywhere'." (The Raft)

 

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