The Stone Roses — Album review
What better way to start my weekly record reviews than with the self-titled debut album from Manchester legends The Stone Roses.
I have a confession to make. I was never a massive Stone Roses fan growing up. Despite being born in the early (to mid) nineties, I was too young for the whole ‘Madchester’ scene or the ‘Battle of Britpop.’
My dad listened to Northern Soul, mixed with a smattering of a Hip Hop and so in my early years, that’s all I listened to as well. As I got older I started finding my own music taste. It didn’t take me long to realise that chart music was and is basically shite.
I discovered Oasis and that was it, I was hooked. But it still took me many more years before I actually discovered The Stone Roses and it took me another few more years before I could appreciate how influential they were.
I was 18 when they played Heaton Park and I didn’t get tickets but I was lucky enough to see them at Benicassim Festival and they absolutely blew me away. I like to think, as a journalist, that I’m quite good with words but I genuinely can’t describe the experience. The melodies came to life, the music swept over me and even Ian Brown’s vocals sounded great.
Fast forward three years and they’ve gained an even bigger following (despite disappearing) due in part to the film Spike Island. Whilst I still can’t say that they’re in my top three bands, there’s no denying that this album is an absolute gem.
The first thing to say about this record is that it sounds particularly phenomenal on vinyl. ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ starts somewhat mysteriously with an intriguing soundscape, then Mani’s bass kicks in at about 40 seconds, followed by John Squire’s guitar, then Reni’s drums and then eventually Ian Brown’s distinctive vocals. The instrumentation of the Roses is absolutely superb and this song is setting the bar for the rest of the album in this sense. Something they do so well is building a wall of sound and building the melodies to a crescendo.
‘She Bangs The Drums’ sounds beautiful on my record player. The whole album sounds great but this song in particular just sounds brilliant. As soon as the hi-hat kicks in on the intro, I can’t help but just start air drumming.
‘Waterfall’ follows with its now iconic guitar riff and when I saw the band live, I was worried about Ian Brown’s vocals on it but I needn’t have been as he sounded great. How couldn’t he when he’s accompanied by such great music. It also gives him the chance to get his tambourines out and shake them about, and whenever Waterfall comes on, I air-tambourine (that’s definitely a thing).
It’s followed by ‘Don’t Stop’ which I have to confess I never really got musically is pretty much Waterfall played backwards, understandably has quite a psychedelic vibe to it. Even Ian Brown’s vocals sound like they’ve been reversed Playing this song live is still one of the most strangely satisfying and impressive things I’ve ever seen. It shows what musical geniuses the band actually are.
Side A of the album finishes with ‘Bye Bye Badman’ and is a song that’s recently become one of my favourites off the album despite not being one that gets played as often on nights out. Like with most Roses tunes, the jangly guitars and the drums make you just wanna get up and move.
“Elizabeth My Dear is the greatest song of all time under a minute” (Thomas Evans, 2012). In fairness, it’s hard to argue on this one with my good friend. As somewhat of an anti-royalist myself, I agree wholeheartedly with all 30 words of the 55 second protest track, which shares it’s melody with Scarborough Fair.
‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’ follows and for me is a love song and one that mixes melancholy and happiness so well. One of the things I love about the Roses is that you can pick different meanings from songs. ‘Made of Stone’ is another absolute anthem, one of my favourite Roses songs and one that isn’t played enough on nights out for my liking. Likewise with ‘Shoot You Down’. In fairness, the whole record is just packed with anthems.
One song which is played quite frequently by the legend Clint Boon at his South club night is ‘This Is The One’ with various people who’ve made it into his DJ booth shouting the refrain drunkenly, but at the risk of repeating myself, it’s another classic.
Then we come to the album closer. It has to be said, I was quite disappointed to realise that there was no ‘Fools Gold’ on this record but alas it was only included on the re-release.
However ‘I Am The Resurrection’ more than makes up for it. Absolute masterpiece.
It starts with a booming drum intro, before the strings come in and then Ian Brown’s vocals kick in building and building to crescendo, teasing you into thinking it’s gonna crash into a chorus at any moment but keeping you hooked throughout but when that chorus finally comes… Wow.
It just takes me right back to Benicassim with tens upon thousands of people screaming it out, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
After the main track ends, comes one of the best pieces of instrumental music ever. A five minute outro is a musical masterclass. After 2 minutes you think it’s over but then it explodes into life once more and you’re left wanting even more when the song finishes despite it being almost 9 minutes in total length.
This is a truly great album and whatever your musical background. It needs to be in your collection.