1 of 1 thought this review was well written
The Stone Roses
The Very Best Of The Stone Roses
Jon Squire- Guitar
Gary Mounfield- Drums
The Stone Roses emerged in 1988 and, with the likes of The Smiths and The New Order, were at the forefront of their respective musical genres. The Roses were the first and best band to emerge from the Manchester ‘Baggy’ scene and to me; they are even more British than The Kinks.
Their first, self titled, album is widely considered to be one of the finest debut albums of all time and is oft included in top 20 album polls. It was Jon Squire’s jangly sixties guitar stylings, Mani’s ultra pop bass line and Ian Brown unprecedented self belief and Christ like proclamations that made them seem so seminal. From the first track, ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ to the very last jammed out second of ‘I Am The Resurrection’ this album is a tripped out but melodic, intimate yet in yer face, home grown talent to superstar grandiose collection of songs which are impossible not to like.
But then, after swarms of imitation bands, the Manchester Rave scene with the Stone Roses had helped establish went national with techno and Oasis, a more punk home grown group went supernova and the Stone Roses disappeared for six years, before returning with a whole new sound with their new album, ‘Second Coming’. At the time, it was cast aside as self indulgent (courtesy of the now self assured and soloing madly Squire) but it is still a pretty listenable album with moments of pure genius which appear here on, what is surely, one of the most essential greatest hits around; this simply belongs in your collection.
1. I Wanna Be Adored
This song builds very slowly, starting with hiss, effects (traffic noise) before Mani’s brilliant Bass line emerges totally mesmerising you as Squire slowly picks out a semi recognisable riff underneath before the drums build up to the song’s beat. Enter Brown, the driving force of the band, with a hypnotic vocal, which are almost a whisper and a fantastically catchy chorus line and a winding guitar line. The song breaks into a slightly heavier section, which then falls backwards, Brown wailing out, ‘I wanna be adored’. A fantastic intro the songs sound and the album, this is the Stone Roses vibe in a nutshell.
2. She Bangs The Drums
A quick fire cymbal drum intro and another, slightly more approachable and ‘pop’ bass line from Mani. Squire and Brown enter at the same time, with both guitar and vocal melodies seeming to wrap around each other with a wonderful verse and a simply gorgeous chorus, with Brown being supported by Squire (a vocal combination that will take some getting used to, not quite having the same voices as Pink Floyd’s harmonies, this is a very raw, thrown together combination). The one thing I can see wrong with this song is the slightly out of place interlude, which jumps oddly back to the chorus. Otherwise an excellent song.
3. Ten Storey Love Song
This is taken from the second album, and is actually the only song on it that COULD have been put on the first one. There is an odd intro, which sounds a little like the end of Strawberry Fields Forever with the march band drums and slidey guitar. Ian Brown sings very well on this song but the lyrics leave a little to be desired and the chorus doesn’t quite have the same ‘edge’ as the two previous songs. The guitar on this song is actually bordering on annoying, with palm-muted riffs being played out under the voices. A bit of a break in quality, but I’m sure some will like it.
One of the Roses’ most famous songs (you may recognise the riffs from the UK Lottery’s old adverts) and rightly so. The guitar is very 60’s and Mani’s bass rolls around like The Beatle’s ‘Rain’ and Brown’s vocal is distant, echoing around your ears in that wonderfully odd sounding harmony he has with Squire. There is but a hint of a chorus, ‘She’ll carry it on through it all, She’s a waterfall’ but that’s all Brown needs to create a perfect urban love song. Squire tries out an acoustic for a quick flash of a solo, before we hear the distinct sound of a brief wah riff while the bass and drums build to a crescendo with two more guitars joining in before it all stops. Perfect
5. Made Of Stone
This is surely one of the Roses’ finest moments. A horribly sinister song set to one of the most delicious chorus’ your ever likely to hear. Brown sings, the secretly apocalyptic lyrics dripping lazily from his mouth, ‘The streets are cold and lonely and the cars they burn below me’. The guitar is simple, with a picked out chords on an acoustic flashing in an out as Mani’s bass plods along under the verses. There is also a very nice solo, which doesn’t quite yet show the flair for improvisation that Squire will so spectacularly demonstrate on ‘second coming’, but when that chorus comes back, if you’re not singing along, you must be deaf. The instrumentals are quick, the vocals are meaningful and the chorus has one of the best melodies to come from the 80’s, and yet, up until I brought this album, I had never heard of it.
6. Love Spreads
The final track from ‘Second Coming’ and one of its best songs. Squire showing off a brilliant drop D riff, sounding almost like a Western over a jangly drumbeat. This is where the Hendrix/Page comparisons come in as Squire improvises the opening riff for the song, taking little pieces of Voodoo Chile and mixing them together for a super intro, with elements of this riff being mixed into the song periodically. Brown is also excellent on this song, at this sneering, boyish best getting to sing out a chorus which rivals Made Of Stone for shear catchiness, ‘Let me put you in the picture, let me show what I mean, the messiah is my sister ain’t no king but she’s my queen.’ This song is pure rock and roll, with tantalisingly light drum cymbal work, thudding bass and virtuoso guitar and a singer entices you deeper into the song. Hell, it’s even got a piano break down which builds up and up and up. Fantastic
7. What The World Is Waiting For
Back to the original Roses and you can tell. This guitar is more melodic and the drums are sooo Manchester. Although I don’t really like this song, I don’t understand why. The guitar chimes away throughout, with snippets of acoustic and electric solos in there and a fairly catchy verse, I just can’t get into it. The chorus is very sort of thrown together and there is an odd interlude of sorts, ‘Stop the world, I’m getting off’.
8. Sally Cinnamon
The bands first single, with Squire’s sixties influences being clear, with double tracked guitar, which disappear for short periods of time before coming back, picking out chords again. The drums and bass kick in after the first chorus and it’s all fine…fine. Again I just can’t get into this song, the Squire/Brown harmony doesn’t work for me this time and I can’t see why they tried to rhyme cinnamon with heaven. Has no real ending either, just fades away. A poor example of their earlier sound.
9. Fool’s Gold
A VERY GOOD example of the Roses’ later sound, a mix of their old Madchester rave beat roots and their more experimental instrumentals. I’m sure you’ve heard this, whether you’re tripped out (like the band were on so so many occasions) or dead focused on getting those wah parts right, this song will mesmerise. From that definitive 90’s drumbeat to Mani’s defining bass line, for many, this song IS the Stone Roses, even though they have never sounded like this before or again. Brown’s singing fades out from being distant to coming right up in front of you but the instrumentals are the key here. The bass and guitar collaborations are the essence of funk, with Mani drifting carelessly from high end tremolo to low end buzz and Squire bringing the Wah right back into fashion with some insanely groovy hooks. The song breaks down several times into mild jams, which some may argue go on for too long (the song stretches to eight minutes and could have been finished perfectly at about 5) but I think this is the song that defines the third era of the Roses, experimental, but still retaining a likeable and somewhat catchy feel. One of the best dance/groove/funk tracks Britain has ever produced.
10. Begging You
This is a wildly different song from ‘Second Coming’, a little before Fool’s Gold but equally experimental. The guitar part is in many ways typical Squire but the delay and reverb make it sound out of this world. The drums and bass explode in with a fantastic movement, Brown’s voice blending, almost lost, in the noise, the guitar weaving in and out. A very good drum and bass track, which actually has a very nice gospel harmony near the end, which would have made a perfect ending, so you’d have thought, but then just when you’d think it was done, Brown wails out again, his voice put through some effect, before it all starts up again. This is the essence of Rave music, it just came two years too late, and Oasis had changed the face of music away from this, shame really.
11. Elephant Stone
Some reversed drums fade in before overridden by a thorough tom tom bashing which pave the way for a classic Squire like riff, an electric jangling away over an acoustic build up, with four guitar going at one point, before it all slows down, then starts up again with a Marimba (a sort of massive xylophone). This repeats with Mani and Brown introduced over this wall of melodic guitar twiddling, which all slows down for some simple strumming for the chorus, ‘Feels like there’s a hole in my dream’. A wonderful song, with some great contrast between the hyper drums and guitar and the typical Brown vocals, not rushing to catch up with the instrumentals, totally in control of the song. A great example of early Roses.
12. Breaking Into Heaven
The opening track of ‘Second Coming’ cut down from eight minutes (which featured a 4 minute build of drums and jungle noises) to the best part of the song. This is groovy, seductive music, with Squire using the wah much more melodically than on Fool’s Gold, with several guitars singing out at once, often overshadowing, certainly, Mani’s driving bass and unfairly, Brown’s vocal. Ian Brown is superb on this song, demonstrating real flair and his personality shines through. His voices originality really shines through here, with a husky verse followed by yet another fantastically catchy chorus, ‘Listen up sweet child ‘o’ mine, have I got news for you’ which turns into a brilliant harmony (no, a proper harmony this time). But you could tell this album (Second Coming) was to be Squire’s show, as this song is filled with so many guitar riffs and different tones that you just have to admire it. He solos at least five times, each one being a perfect example of what an Okay guitarist can do with just a bit (a lot) of practise. He had become an incredible competent improviser and it really shows through on this incredibly groovy song, which makes a superb opener to the album.
13. One Love
Whereas this song, for me, is distinctly average. Squire uses the Wah, but it just doesn’t suit the song as well as he might have thought. Mani’s bass line is good, but doesn’t have that catch as with his other bass hits. Brown sounds ok, but the lyrics are terrible, featuring one of my pet peeves in terms of writing, ‘Any time you want me, any time at all, any time you need me, all you (yep you guessed it) gotta do is call’. None of the melodies work, none of the instrumentals are that great, how did this song get on over ‘Tears’???
14. This Is The One
This however is pure genius. Back to the first album and you really can tell. Squire once again mixes acoustic and electric jangling which play over another superb bass line, with flourishes in the bridge and just before Brown comes in, softer than usual. This is perfect vocal/instrumental chemistry and I especially love the way the chorus secretly starts, just beginning under the two hard strums/flourishes, which frequent the song. Simple repeating of ‘This is the one, this is the one’ give the song great meaning, it can be whatever you want it to be and I take it to be a love song, a very good one as well. Brown gets louder and more joyous until jumping right back and whispering the chorus again, gradually getting louder into a sing along of Hey Jude proportions, a superb climax to a superb song, I cannot describe how uplifting this song is, it could go on for at least two more minutes IMO. You’ve just got to hear it.
15. I Am The Resurrection
The finale to the first album, which actually follows This Is The One on the album. A very fitting climax with a great drum beat which gives you the sense that something monumental is going to happen, before Mani comes in with a quiet, typically melodic and catchy bass line which plods along under the song and Brown’s vocals. The lyrics in this song are actually not very nice, being an attack on someone in a ‘leave me alone’ sense but Brown makes them sound so inviting. Squire’s guitar jangles away again, weaving in and out of the vocal melody. The bridge is excellent in this song, ‘Don’t waste your words on me I don’t need anything from you’ and shows off the bands skills for writing sing along melodies. But then the chorus come through…after two almost ant climactic bridges and you realise what the band had been building up to, with Brown just reaching that high note on ‘I Am The Resurrection’ in a superbly implemented chorus which could go on forever, but Is overtaken by Squire’s guitar. The band’s timing on this song is superb with lots of nice moments of stopping and starting before slowing into a jam being led by Mani’s (yes, him again) bass line. This jam is actually quite nice to listen to, but I don’t feel it is the best way to close the album (by this I mean the first album ‘The Stone Roses’) as the song before it seemed so perfect. But as a song on it’s own, absolute genius.
I absolutely adore the Stone Roses and feel that they are one of the most underrated bands, with virtually no recognition in the US (I’m the first to do a review, it’s been 12 years guys!) and I believe this album to be one of the most essential Greatest Hits around, showing a superb range of the bands styles and genre switches. But be warned, after hearing this you WILL want to buy the two albums separately, because I promise you will love this band. So, despite some flaws in the track list (no ‘Tears’?, but you’ll put ‘One Love’ on?) I’m giving this album a
There are so many high points on this album that they far outweigh the low points, which are few and far between. From the seductively confident vocals of Ian Brown, to the always catchy and important bass lines of Mani, to the heavily influenced but always recognisable guitar hooks of Jon, to the light beat making or thunderous rhythm pounding drums of Gary. To the uplifting sing along of This Is The One, to the sneering confidence of Love Spreads, from the menacing omnipotence of Made Of Stone to the sickly sweet Waterfall, the Stone Roses are a band that need to be recognised as one of the greatest pop composers of the last 20 years.
And if this review hasn’t convinced you to check them out (after two hours of typing) I have failed.