All images courtesy of Getty Images/Stone Roses Facebook (official)
The Stone Roses were a band from Manchester, England that was originally formed in 1983, comprised of vocalist Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Mani, and drummer Reni. Early on, The Stone Roses gigged around London, and their first single, “So Young/Tell Me,” was released in 1985. Both Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis have mentioned that they were inspired to form a band after seeing a Stone Roses gig toward the late 80s.
The Roses were highly influential, and a slew of other bands formed or altered their sound after The Stone Roses hit the scene. Bands from the newly born “Madchester Scene” included The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets (who Noel Gallagher was a roadie for ), and even The Happy Mondays, even though they formed in the mid-80s, but their most successful albums came in the wake of this whole scene.
The Stone Roses debut single was followed by “Sally Cinnamon,” in 1987, and “Elephant Stone,” in 1988. The latter of which was included on their debut record, The Stone Roses, which was released the following year, in 1989. “Made of Stone” was the next single to come out, and “She Bangs The Drums” followed shortly after the release of their self-titled album. The album was well-received, and The Stone Roses continued to rise in popularity, and soon after, “Fools Gold/What The World Is Waiting For” was released at the end of 1989. “Fools Gold” has gone on to become one of their most popular songs, and was their first top-ten hit.
So what about the album? What is it all about? Well, let’s talk about that…
The Stone Roses kicks off with “I Wanna Be Adored,” which builds slowly, slinking along with a sweet bass line, as more instrumentation comes in until the drums burst in, and then the party gets started. On the track, Ian Brown quips, ”I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me.“ It’s a great song to set the tone for the album. I enjoy the fact it was a longer song, which gives the listener a big taste of what The Stone Roses, as a band, were all about. ”She Bangs The Drums“ follows, and is an uptempo tune, with a very catchy melody. The song features the line, “Kiss me where the sun don’t shine,” a shorter song but effective in keeping things moving. “Elephant Stone” is next, and is another shorter, faster, but altogether amazing tune.
“Waterfall” slows things down with a more mid-tempo, pretty song. As is the case with all of the songs on The Stone Roses, “Waterfall” features some very strong guitar work from the underrated John Squire. “Don’t Stop” is simply “Waterfall” played backward. It serves as an interesting oddity in the middle of the record. “Bye Bye Badman” starts slowly with simply guitar strumming, and Brown singing, and eventually features a big catchy chorus. “Elizabeth My Dear” is a short one-minute track, but still extremely intriguing. I am sure it would have worked as a longer tune, but it works this way too.
“(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister” continues in the tradition of “Sally Cinnamon,” with references to women, candy, and sweets, and another catchy chorus to go along with it. “Made of Stone” is another one of the singles off the record. It kicks off with some psychedelic guitar work, and eventually, the bass and drums move in too. To be fair, most of these tracks sound like hit singles, so, it is hard to differentiate the hits from the deep cuts. Another track that starts slowly is “Shoot You Down,” but again, it is a great song with a nice melody.
Next, “This Is The One” pops off with some great guitar, and you can hear the chorus being played as a lead guitar part. It goes with a bit of a stop/start feel in the first section before halfway through gaining some momentum and continuing as a more straightforward rocker. Finally, we come to “I Am The Resurrection,” an eight-minute epic, with a ton of great jamming throughout the second half. A highlight indeed, and one of my favorite songs by The Stone Roses, in general. In later versions of the record, “Fools Gold” was added, but since this is the original track listing, I won’t cover that here.
The next single after the band’s debut was, “One Love,” which was released in 1990. This would be the last song that they would release for the next four years as they were fighting with their record label, Silvertone Records, and eventually, went to court. The courts ended up siding with The Stone Roses, and they were subsequently released from their eight-year contract. Still, Silvertone Records appealed, and this delayed the release of more music for an additional year. Sadly, the fiasco would go on to effectively kill The Stone Roses momentum commercially, and critically.
The Stone Roses then signed with Geffen Records and released Second Coming, in 1994. The lead single was, “Love Spreads.” Second Coming featured much heavier guitar, and overall, was more Led Zeppelin influenced than the group’s older material. Sadly, this would be their final album as both Reni, and John Squire left the band in 1996. The Stone Roses would officially break up in 1996, though they did reunite for shows in 2012, and released a new single, “All For One/Beautiful Thing” in 2016. Ultimately, after talk of a new record, that would be it for new music, and they bid a final farewell in 2019.
Overall, it seemed to be a frustrating career for The Stone Roses, and their fans. It would have been interesting to see what they would have accomplished if they could have maintained their late 80s momentum, and not been stuck in court all those years in the 90s. At the very least, we are left with this classic debut album, The Stone Roses.
Please check out the video below where I speak about The Stone Roses classic debut, The Stone Roses:
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