Top 10 essential Stone Roses
Ahead of their first Australian tour since 1995, including a run of dates for Future Music, ANDREW P STREET puts together his ultimate Stone Roses playlist.
For a band with such a tiny catalogue, the Stone Roses cast a mighty long shadow. Their entire output consists of two albums, a handful of singles, and a new remix of ‘Fool’s Gold’ every time a new genre of dance music appeared – and like heroes The Smiths, the number of compilations vastly outnumbers their proper releases.
The accepted narrative with the Roses is that the first album – 1989’s self-titled effort – is an unimpeachable classic and the second – 1994’s The Second Coming – is coke-fuelled dreck. It’s not entirely incorrect an assessment, although the highs on The Second Coming are higher than you remember, and the first album could do with some judicious trimming (seriously, ‘Don’t Stop’?) – but here are your 10 essential Roses jams.
First single ‘So Young’ was, let’s not be coy, kinda gothy and a bit shit – especially Ian Brown’s tuneless bellow. The jangling guitars of ‘Sally Cinnamon’ make this the first Stone Roses-sounding Stone Roses single, although the band was still not quite the band the world was to fall in love with: second guitarist Andy Couzens was still on board, as was bassist Pete Garner. It still owes a debt to the short-lived C-86 twee-pop movement, but you can hear guitarist John Squire’s Johnny Marr-isms just pushing to be let out, and Reni’s drums are, as always, amazing.
Now, here’s where the real Roses began. Couzens and Garner were gone, with Gary “Mani” Mountford on board on bass and Squire whacking seven shades out of his wah-wah and Brown discovering that his dreamier, breathier register better suited the half dozen notes he could hit. It’s the first classic Roses single, coming out as a teaser for the self-titled album (upon which it didn’t appear, at least until the CD version appeared).
‘I Wanna Be Adored’
Look, I disagree with the claim that the first Roses album is one of the more perfect discs ever – but dear god, they bookended it perfectly. ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ set the band’s agenda perfectly: a slow burning circular bassline emerges out of a mist of effects until Reni marshalls the band with two snare cracks and Squire reels off that triumphant riff. Simple, effective, perfect.
‘She Bangs the Drums’
And then it slides into their second best known single, and their first charting effort (#38 in the UK) – a jubilant ode to … well, a girl of some sort, who presumably plays drums. And that bit where the bassline is matched by piano? Genius.
‘Made of Stone’
Sure, the Roses had some great tunes, but this is possibly their greatest song. Brooding verses matched with a jubilant chorus, and Squire never played a better solo. It’s one of the only Roses songs that you could bash out on a guitar since it’s not dependent on a sweet groove or a nice bassline.
‘I Am The Resurrection’
As ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ was the perfect opener, this epic freak out is the perfect closer. Starting with Reni giving a strident ‘Pretty Woman’ snare-on-the-one drum beat, it builds to Brown’s anthemic chorus – and then just before the four minute mark, Mani takes over and things get downright funky, with Squire dueling solos against himself over a ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ percussive freakout. And then just when you think it’s done, it comes back for another round. Amazing.
And here’s the game changer. Originally knocked up as a b-side for the limp ‘What The World is Waiting For’, it’s little more than a drum loop from Bobby Byrd’s ‘Hot Pants – I’m Coming, I’m Coming, I’m Coming’ overlaid with Mani’s bassline (“inspired” – or more accurately, “stolen” from a sample of Isaac Hayes’ ‘Theme From Shaft’ that was used in Young MC’s ‘Know How’) and Squire’s wah-wah. The label insisted that the sides should be flipped, the band disagreed, and the compromise was a double a-side, where everyone correctly played ‘Fools Gold’. It was the band’s biggest hit to date, reaching #8 in the UK.
The first wobble came with this non-album single, which would have been perfectly fine had it not followed ‘Fool’s Gold’ and sounded like a half-assed rewrite (and used the exact same drum sample) while Brown whispered lines from the Beatles’ ‘Anytime At All’ in the verses. It’s still catchy as hell, but definitely their weakest single to date – though it was also their biggest hit to that point.
The road to the Roses’ second album was a rocky one: First they had an expensive and drawn-out process getting out of their deal with Silvertone and onto Geffen, recording sessions started and were scrapped for five years amid rumours of screaming fights with producers and a shit tonne of cocaine and by the time the band actually came back Britpop was in full flower – not the ideal time for a drop-tuned blues tune. Still, it was their biggest hit and only US chart song, though the optimism didn’t last. Reni jumped ship after a fight with Brown just before their first tour for the album, which was a sign of things to come.
‘Ten Storey Love Song’
The most first-album sounding track on The Second Coming was the next single, and while it’s still a lovely tune, there’s a tiredness to it that contrasts with the energy of the first album – and those chiming guitars sounded weirdly dated with the big chords and jaunty rhythms of Britpop.
FL presents The Stone Roses sideshows
Friday, March 1 – Riverstage, Brisbane
Wednesday, March 6 – Hordern Pavillion, Sydney
Thursday, March 7 – Festival Hall, Melbourne
Future Music Festival 2013 dates:
Saturday, March 2 – Doomben Racecourse, Brisbane
Sunday, March 3 – Arena Joondalup, Perth
Saturday, March 9 – Randwick Racecourse, Sydney
Sunday, March 10 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Monday, March 11 – Bonython Park, Adelaide