Pretty Green

Who are The Stone Roses

I know The Stone Roses, and you probably know The Stone Roses, but many do not. And for a few good reasons. One, they never achieved a huge commercial success around the globe in recent history. They were only ever seminal.  Music was different back in the late 80’s and mid 90’s as well. We relied heavily on music mags to tell us news and apart from “Love Spreads” they never really even achieved much love during the hey-day of Britpop. Sure NME devoted a few covers out of a year to them but that was in 89-1991. We’re talking over 20 years ago. That’s more than time for someone born in 1991 to have kids today. Think about that. We’ve gone generations between when they were something people really wrote about on a mass scale. In addition, the artists on their own didn’t really go on to huge successes. You could make a case for Mani in Primal Scream, but The Primals existed before Mani’s joining and really are the brain-child of Bobby Gillespie. Ian Brown’s solo career – while loved by me – shouldn’t be considered a global movement. I think he was more for the deep music fans who really enjoyed the history of things, and he of course has achieved a level of success I would choke someone for, but we need to be realistic in our views.  With that said I love the Roses. They are literally my most favorite band.  I simply think many people don’t know of them.

Please don’t mince my worlds too much or read into it too heavily, so also lets not make fun of people who don’t know them that well; rather, lets take a positive stance by saying “here is the band” we all love and we want to share. So with that said here is my….

VERY Brief History Of The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses are: Ian Brown on vocals, John Squire on guitar, Gary Mounfield (aka Mani) on bass and Alan Wren (aka Reni) on drums. The Stone Roses claim to fame is their much loved “first” self-titled debut album.  I will say the band did exist prior to this self-titled album by making a record called “The Garage Flower,” but it was never an official release or even truly supported by a label. It’s not considered a real release so many pass over it. Back to the album you should care about. “The Stone Roses” album released  in 1989 on the Silvertone label was accepted at the time as one of the greatest albums ever made. John Leckie’s production with its focus on crisp drums and bass, well recorded guitar, and whispered into a microphone reverb-laden vocals is top notch and personifies everything Leckie has touched since. The impact of its release also instantly spawned a musical scene that changed the landscape for Great Britain. The scene came to be known as “Madchester.”  Trouble is, they ran into a slew of problems with their label, management, internal strife, drug use and the overly used cliche of “kids.” By the time their second came around Oasis had arrived and the album was quite the follow up we all probably would have liked. The album was good and does get too much flak, but under the weight of expectation they eventually broke up. So let’s talk about the first album.

The Stone Roses Album

The album contains multiple career defining songs and even scene defining songs. I’ll explain more but for now I’ll let the music speak for itself. “I Wanna be Adored” and its memorable bass line is below:

After “Adored” the other well known songs on the album are (and not in this order) “I Am the Resurrection,” “Made of Stone,” and “Waterfall.” The latter song became a minor dance hit around the globe (see the video below). That 60’s Byrds-influenced sound (with a groove) really resonated with a lot of people. We had been through the dour 80’s conservative culture of Reagan and Thatcher so the refreshing, positive, self assured sound looking back to a time when things were brighter (at least we thought so) while also looking forward was a great fit. It made sense culturally and it realigned the musical world.

Post the albums release the band put out two stand alone singles that continued their success into 1990 and 1991. They were “One Love” and “Fools Gold.” “What the World is Waiting For” is part of the “Fools Gold” single and was released as a double A-side, but “Fools Gold” was the true single. “One Love” was a great song but “Fools Gold” and its funky beat, wah-wah guitars, and hushed vocals fairly summed up all aspects of the scene I mentioned before: Madchester. Many waited eagerly for their follow up but it was not to come…

The Second Coming Album

The follow up album – released 5 1/2 years later – was still a great album by all accounts just not what anyone expected.  The musical scene had changed towards Britpop with Oasis and Blur. In addition much of the Madchester scene had fizzled out with too much drug use and of course the grunge scene of the 90’s had come and gone too. If there was a album to be made that was an opposite of the tightness of sound, positive attitude, and relaxed beat of the first album it was this one with it’s multiple overdubs, reflective lyrics, and straight forward beats (although still miles above anyone else) was The Second Coming. It’s trashed fairly bad and I speak a bit to why that is  but it is an excellent album. Just by another band. I understand every band needs to evolve and have their sound grown naturally, this one just didn’t speak to what The Stone Roses did best. With that said I really like it and there are a few really boss tunes on it starting with “Love Spreads.” Listen below.

There’s also “Ten Story Love Song,” “Daybreak,” and “How Do You Sleep.”  The problem that happened is that the band started to fracture. Reni left the band prior to the start of the official tour. Their replacement drummer Robbie Maddiux just didn’t get the sound Reni did and quite honestly blew the timing of songs multiple times live. While probably an accomplished drummer in his own way, he was no Reni. Eventually John Squire quit and the band carried on for a little more playing a few ill-fated shows with just Ian and Mani with two more replacement musicians.

The Stone Roses Reunion, and Next Album?

The Stone Roses reformed in 2011 and played a series of reunion shows. As of early 2013 there has been no real news of releases, but there are hints of a new album. The only real indication of what such an album may sound like, and this is small at best, is that the band is leaning on their early songs on tour more than The Second Coming.

More Stories on the Stone Roses…

Stone Roses B-Sides
Stone Roses Documentary
Stone Roses Live Videos
Rare Stone Roses Songs