“It’s Not Where You’re From, It’s Where You’re At…”
My first real introduction to The Stone Roses came about when I watched Spike Island (2012). For all you Game of Thrones fans, the movie features Emilia Clarke as she’s just breaking onto the scene. For someone who had heard of them before but dismissed them as just another overrated, full-of-itself, pop band, the movie served the purpose of showing me exactly what they meant to so many people. Musically it’s not hard to see where they are coming from. Arriving at the end of the 80’s, it was impossible to not be influenced by The Smiths, especially being that they’re both from Manchester. As a band, they set out to be more than mere copycats, playing off the tracks laid for them by those that came before. They became more than just a band from Manchester, they defined a generation.
The Stone Roses – 1989 (Silvertone)
The band’s debut comes roughly six years after they formed, having already released a handful of singles. The Stone Roses comes across as more polished than most debuts, no doubt as a result of the long wait since their inception. The album features crystal clear jangle-pop sounds infused with classic folk and psych-rock sensibilities. At a time with just about every kind of music out there, the band casts a wide net yet still remain unified.
- Made Of Stone*
- Bye Bye Bad Man
- She Bangs the Drum
- Fools Gold
“The past was yours But the future’s mine” – She Bangs The Drum
“Your final flight can’t be delayed No earth, just sky it’s so serene” – Made Of Stone
“I’m standing warm against the cold Now that the flames have taken hold” – Made Of Stone
“Don’t waste your words I don’t need anything from you I don’t care where you’ve been or what you plan to do” – I Am The Resurrection
For a debut, it’s unusually strong. Lead guitarist John Squire already shows remarkable technical skill and compositionally most songs are strong enough to be played live and get people to feel the groove. The album grew to become much larger than most could have imagined. It typified the emotions of the youth in Manchester. The band would go on to define the movement affectionately known as Madchester. Lyrically, they’re not all that clever. But who cares? It was the sound that unified the country. Music came first, as it always does.
Second Coming – 1994 (Geffen Records)
For their second album, The Stone Roses became more experimental, but at the same time more traditional sounding. Blues influenced progressive rock if you will. The opening track comes in at a little over 11 minutes and is followed up by a classic blues rocker. Squire employs 70’s inspired guitars to match the jam-band style of the album. Imagine if a Beatles tribute band hooked up with a Zeppelin tribute band and they both dug RHCP.
- Driving South
- Your Star Will Shine
- Good Times
“Any time you want to sell your soul I’ve got a toll-free number you can ring” – Driving South
“I stopped for an old man hitcher at a lonely old crossroad He said I’m going nowhere And I’m only here to see if I can steal your soul” – Driving South
“When your questions go unanswered And the silence is killing you” – Ten Story Love Song
“You should have been an angel, it would have suited you” – Tightrope
“Are we etched in stone or just scratched in the sand Waiting for the waves to come and reclaim the land? Will the sun shine all sweetness and light Burn us to a cinder, our third stone satellite?” – Tightrope
“So if you hear me crying Or talking in my sleep Don’t be afraid It’s just the hours that I keep” – Tears
This album is vastly different from the band’s first, yet they managed to maintain their identity. Though I am culturally, geographically, and demographically removed from the majority of their followers, I still hear the same sentiment in this album that I did in the first, just more mature and polished. They took the psychedelic pulsating sound found on their debut and plugged it into a brand new blues amp. However, Second Coming did not have the best reception. The band took a significant break between albums which left fans expecting much more than they got in the bands follow up. Regardless, Second Coming holds just as many great songs as The Stone Roses.
As you now know, I only began to appreciate The Stone Roses after watching Spike Island. The movie is a coming of age story centered around a young couple and a band/gang’s unflinching adoration of The Stone Roses. This, of course, was an emotion very much prevalent in the years surrounding the band’s gig that served as a plot driver in the movie. The festival by the chemical plant on Spike Island was a defining moment for the band and one for many who were there. Sadly, The Stone Roses were one of those few things that are too good to last. They burned too bright and too fast to stick around for the reception. Like many great bands the broke up before we had enough.