Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Stone Roses



1. I Wanna Be Adored
2. She Bangs The Drums
3. Waterfall
4. Don't Stop
5. Bye Bye Badman
6. Elizabeth My Dear
7. (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
8. Made Of Stone
9. Shoot You Down
10. This Is The One 
11. I Am The Resurrection
12. Fools Gold    

The Stone Roses are the band usually credited with being the leaders of the late eighties/early nineties "Madchester" scene, which merged traditional guitar rock with dance and rave music rhythms. As was usual with most of the bands from this genre, there was a sixties influence, particularly The Beatles and also psychedelic rock. This was a genre that emerged for the next generation on from me, so I am someone who looked at it quite dispassionately. I was certainly never a fan of dance music or "clubbing", that was after my time, so what I like about this album is that it far more of a rock album than a dance one. The sound is based a lot more around buzzy guitar riffs than programmed loops. The actually isn't much "dance" on here at all, compared to The Happy Mondays, for example.

The Stones Roses had an arrogance and confidence about them, similar to that of Oasis, but far less "in-your-face" and more cool and detached. They were a somewhat faceless group (comparatively), although singer Ian Brown had that Gallagher brothers attitude about him. The rear cover is a black and white image of the band looking very much like an updated version of Revolver-era Beatles.

I Wanna Be Adored is a swirling pyschedelic-ish number, full of that afore-mentioned guitar sound. She Bangs The Drums is a very jangly, poppy and catchy upbeat song. Its vocal is very typical the sound of this genre. Impossible to describe, but instantly recognisable, in the same way that a new romantic, punk or post punk vocal was. Some of the riffs are very like those used by The Jam ten years earlier.

Waterfall is very appealing in its trebly but rhythmic harmoniously sixties way. The guitar/bass/drum interplay half way through is very seventies rock. It even uses a bit of funky wah-wah guitar. This is a good track. The drum are "proper" drums but they manage to convey a "dance"-ish vibe without the need to programme anything. Acid house was a neo-psychedelic, but musically artificial thing, but The Stone Roses managed to invoke its drugged-up bliss using conventional rock instruments. As the psychedelic bands of the late sixties did.

Don't Stop is a feedback and sound effect-drenched piece of psychedelia. This is a very 1966-67 Beatles-influenced number. The "from the top" spoken invocation is pure Lennon. It is the only track with a real dance vibe to it. Bye Bye Badman is another very late sixties piece of upbeat but dreamy, wistful rock. Although there are contemporary sounds used throughout the album and there is a future-looking feel about the cockiness of the new "scene", it is also a totally retrospective album. Elizabeth My Dear is a medieval-influenced, melodically acoustic condemnation of The Queen, quite for what purpose it serves is unclear. It doesn't fit the vibe of the album at all.

The good old sixties feel is well and truly back on the Pretty Flamingo riff-driven (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister. The vocal harmonies, while retro, are also very typical of their era.

Made Of Stone is a great song, with a post punk feeling about it, albeit an upbeat one, and some excellent drums. Shoot You Down is a delicious, laid-back George Harrison-esque song, both musically and vocally. Its Beatles influences are so manifold there is almost little point in detailing them.

This Is The One is also riffily impressive, with a great, dramatic intro, reminiscent of Queen, would you believe, in its crashing cymbals. Singer Ian Brown's vocal is quietly vibrant, building the song up into the anthem it becomes. This is excellent stuff, sort of The Stone Roses' Baba O'Reilly.

I Am The Resurrection is an extended piece of Lennon-esque arrogance, backed with superb guitar and drums. Once again, the instrumental interplay in the middle is pure, great rock music of which Led Zeppelin would have been proud. Fools Gold is an even longer track, clocking in at over nine minutes. It directly utilises the funky riff from James Brown's Funky Drummer. It gets into an insistent funk/rock groove, like something by Brown or Fela Kuti, interjected with fuzzy guitar stabs. It keeps in its rhythm, backed by some intoxicating rhythm and never gets tiresome. Stuff like this is really very impressive for a debut album.

This was one of the first of the "Madchester" albums that spawned Brit Pop, along with the first two Oasis albums, for me, it is undeniably the best. It is not an album constructed from tape loops and programmed drums, it is a rock album of high quality.