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RPA & The United Nations of Sound

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Following the second reunion and third split of the hugely successful Verve, lead singer Richard Ashcroft, in a career re-invention not too dissimilar to fellow '90s frontman Damon Albarn, assembled a group of soul musicians to form RPA & the United Nations of Sound. Born in Wigan, Greater Manchester, in 1971, Ashcroft released three studio albums with alt-rock act the Verve in the '90s before embarking on a solo career that spawned three Top Five albums and ten Top 40 singles. After the Verve re-formed in 2008 to record Forth, the four-piece split up a year later, and in early 2010 Ashcroft announced his first solo project without the aid of any of his former bandmembers (drummer Pete Salisbury had played on all of his previous solo releases), RPA & the United Nations of Sound. The ever-changing collective, whose members have at one time or other included wife and former Spiritualized keyboardist Kate Radley, former Lauryn Hill guitarist Steve Wyreman, and gospel musician Derrick Wright, released its debut album, RPA & the United Nations of Sound, in the same year. Produced by No I.D. (Kanye West, Jay-Z), the album included the singles "Born Again" and "Are You Ready," and peaked at number 20 in the U.K., but faced both a backlash from Verve fans and a disappointing critical reception. Following live dates in Europe, Japan, and Australia, Ashcroft signed to the Razor & Tie label in the U.S., where the album was planned for release under his own name, while two of its tracks also appeared on the soundtrack to the Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau. ~ Jon O'Brien

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