The Verve were the Britpop kings of strings, and History was just the first in a long line of string-laden hits that the band would achieve in between their various breakups. By the time of their mega-selling 1997 album Urban Hymns the Verve recording motto was and all shall have strings. No Verve song was complete without that adornment: The Drugs Don’t Work, Lucky Man, Sonnet’, and of course the daddy of them all, Bitter Sweet Symphony, a song that managed to combine the band’s love of strings with a casual attitude towards copyright ownership when they used a bit too much of the Rolling Stones The Last Time that they had been given permission to sample. As a result the song was eventually credited to Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, giving the multimillionaire pair a much-needed injection of royalties. So well done to everyone involved there.
History, likewise, isn’t afraid to combine originality with existing art: the intro isn’t far from John Lennon’s Mind Games, while the opening lyrics are based on a William Blake Poem, London. The result is piercing, yet tender; the string arrangement in the chorus genuinely adds to the song, rather than feeling tacked on for completeness and faux-emotion.