It’s the penultimate hyperbole in pop music; the impossible state of being for any band; the next Beatles. Fans of the Bay City Rollers aside (seriously do you realize how big they were in the 70’s in the UK?) this hyperbole has more requirements than just possessing legions of hysterical fans. It takes a multi-faceted and elusive mixture of popularity, prolific music perfection, critical acclaim, media fascination, and commercial success, all of which create a change in the way popular music is proliferated, seen, and heard. Few bands have reached this territory, and perhaps only one can truly claim it. That was the Stone Roses in during the Second Summer of Love.
Manchester is one of the holy cities of rock music, up there with New York, Berlin, Detroit, or Memphis. Per capita it’s rivaled only by Minneapolis/St. Paul in the amount of talent it’s produced. The Stone Roses arrived at the tail end of the Factory days. It was an uncertain environment for music, especially rock, with a new scene fuelled by increasingly electronic music and a new drug; ecstasy.
A group of four unassuming guys who looked like kids signed to an indie rock label who few had heard of; a band known at the time more for its arrogance than its music. They were cocky, but had the skills to back it up.
Ian Brown, the lead singer, in his detached delivery that was later emulated by Noel Gallagher. Reni, and his iconic bucket hat (some in the UK call them ‘Reni Hats’) was called by Pete Townshend the most naturally gifted drummer since Keith Moon. At 20, Townshend asked to jam with him. Howard Jones, manager of the Hacienda club said that he was the Jimi Hendrix of drumming. Mani, the bass player, was the heart and soul of the band, the last to join, and the most influential in their evolution. Guitarist and artist John Squire was second only to Johnny Marr as far as guitarists of his generation. Their lyrics were bombastic. Off-stage they were shy and awkward, almost uncomfortably so. Yet, they came nearly out of nowhere and released what NME has named the Greatest Album of all-time.
“Bollocks to Morrissey at Wolverhampton, to The Sundays at The Falcon, to PWEI at Brixton - I'm already drafting a letter to my grandchildren telling them that I saw The Stone Roses at the Hacienda." -Andrew Collins, NME music critic.
They built up a following which would soon bring them attention from London. They changed the direction of Brit music. Oasis started playing music because of the Stone Roses. Blur owes more than a direct influence.
The Stone Roses was a two-fold revolution -- it brought dance music to an audience that was previously obsessed with droning guitars, while it revived the concept of classic pop songwriting, and the repercussions of its achievement could be heard throughout the '90s-Allmusic Guide
Out of vinyl, pulsing bass lines, and jangly guitar strings they fashioned wings. Like all great mythologies in Rock and Roll, fate was ultimately fickle to the Roses. This musical Icarus flew to heights only reached by the gods. The height was in 1990 when they staged a huge outdoor gig at Spike Island, which has grown to become one of the iconic live performances in rock history, followed by an equally big Glasgow Green show.
Yet, at the height of their success, they were caught in a tangled legal battle, and had difficulty in trying to create a follow-up album. The very strength of their wings failed them, twisting them in anxieties trying to create a follow-up album, and the entitlement which strung them together became tangled in a drawn out legal battle. Their wings broke as they fell to the ground like a rock. Over five years later they released their only other album, Second Coming. The title was not meant to be as ironic as it turned out to be. It’s not an unlistenable album, there are a couple of decent songs on it. In many ways their incredible confidence that allowed for this album to reach its magnificent heights, prevented them from ever coming close to reaching it again. By then the bands they had influenced were already outshining them. Though, internal strife was already destroying the band from the inside. Reni, with all his talent, spent the next decade in and out of jails and prison and hasn’t been in a proper band since. And a new cynicism, personified by Grunge music made their follow-up sound quaint, even though it was noticeably harder. After its release John left the band after rumors of drug problems. It’s one of the big “what ifs” in music. If the Roses had released a follow up quickly would they have continued their wild success? Could they have become the best band of all-time as some said at the time? Or would they have just made a string of forgettable albums, pushing them even more into obscurity? All that is for certain is that The Stone Roses is a perfect record. This is an album which is deceptive in its near effortless execution, which will grow on you over time, and get better with each listen.
The album has been twice voted the Greatest of All-Time by NME (2000, 2006). It was voted seventh in a 2006 BBC public poll, is included in Time’s All-Time 100 Albums, and was ranked #5 all-time in 1997 by the Guardian. In 2007, we placed it at 27th all-time, and the next year “I am the Resurrection” and “Made of Stone” made our list of the best songs of all-tme.
Ian Brown has a critically successful solo career. Mani joined the equally important Primal Scream. John Squire formed the band The Seahorses (an anagram for “he hates roses”), and eventually gave up music for his painting. Reni gave his first interview in 10 years in 2007, and said he was in a new band, though nothing has materialized.
John Leckie - producer, mixing engineer ("Elephant Stone", U.S. version only)
Peter Hook - producer ("Elephant Stone", U.S. version only)
Paul Schroeder - engineer
The Stone Roses:
- John Squire - guitars, paintings (collage artist, made the cover art)
- Ian Brown - vocals
- Mani (Gary Mounfield)- bass
- Reni (Alen Wren)- drums, backing vocals
The US version includes two songs, released as singles, which do not appear on the UK version (Waterfall and Fools Gold).
Recorded: June 1988-February 1989 at Battery & konk Studios/London, Rockfield Studios, Monmouth/Wales. Silvertone records.
The album produced 5 top 10 singles, and 7 top 50 singles.
1989 US Release
Released July 23, 1989 (1989-07-23)
- "I Wanna Be Adored" – 4:52
- "She Bangs the Drums" – 3:42
- "Elephant Stone" (UK 7" single version) – 3:04
- "Waterfall" – 4:37
- "Don't Stop" – 5:17
- "Bye Bye Badman" – 4:00
- "Elizabeth My Dear" – 0:59
- "(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister" – 3:25
- "Made of Stone" – 4:10
- "Shoot You Down" – 4:10
- "This Is the One" – 4:58
- "I Am the Resurrection" – 8:12
- "Fools Gold" (UK 12" single version) – 9:53