The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:1989-05-02
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses

Not only did it initiate Brit-pop and the Madchester scene, but The Stone Roses eponymous debut has occasionally been rated the greatest album of all time. Bursting with psychedelia, Beatlesque pop, funky dance tunes, tender love ballads, and jingly jangly guitarscapes, there’s something for everyone. Realising the gold mine they had on their hands, Silvertone released half the album as singles, but this shotgun approach has not diminished the album’s power one bit. ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ is one of the most powerful opening tracks ever, gradually building to an explosive orgasm of chiming guitars and chest-thumping bravado, not to mention Brit-pop’s typically self-centred braggadocio.

‘She Bangs The Drums’ features a stunning bass line that pulls you in to its insanely catchy melody, with Ian Brown’s vocals oozing the confidence that placed him at the forefront of Britain’s finest singers at the turn of the decade. ‘Waterfall’ glistens with John Squire’s trickling guitar lines, the Reni/Mani rhythm section shuffling along like a raft floating down the river, and Squire’s tastefully funky solo thankfully not wallowing in “Look at me, ma” histrionics.

The band’s most outwardly psychedelic Beatles influence, ‘Don’t Stop’ is essentially a backwards-masked rendition of ‘Waterfall’. It’s ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ meets ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, with a premonition of that midget in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks that’s still a year away! Next, the sing-song lullaby ‘Bye Bye Badman’ provides a soft, relaxing respite from the preceding psychedelic maelstrom before galloping into a bit of a clap-along campfire ditty.

Amidst all the hifalutin hub bub, their ‘Scarborough Fair’ rewrite ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ injects some acid folk into the proceedings. It wouldn’t be out of place on a Bert Jansch or Nick Drake album, but is an unexpected delight here. ‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’ is possibly the only single-worthy track that wasn’t – a multifaceted mini-suite with a yearning, killer melody wrapped around one of Brown’s most affecting vocals. Amongst an album of pure killer – no filler, it’s the hidden gem that warrants repeat listens. The hits (and treats) keep on coming, with my favourite cut on the album, the almighty ‘Made of Stone’, arguably their finest creation – a soaring melody, heartfelt lyric, and searing, phased Squire solo. Brilliant!

The chill out groover ‘Shoot You Down’ softly whispers “I love you” while simultaneously three-finger saluting “The love you showed me/[That] started to choke me”. A snazzy little jazz lick from Squire seals the deal. Rounding down the home stretch, ‘This Is The One’ soon became Man U’s walk-on anthem and is best appreciated shouted at the top of your lungs alongside 75,000 punters at Old Trafford, while epic closer ‘I Am The Resurrection’ is the band’s (particularly Reni’s) tour de force, in which they stretch out in a headswirling psychedelic jam that’s worth every one of its 492 seconds. It also hints at a possibly overlooked Christian element of the album, which is bookended by the adoration and resurrection of rock stars who, like The Beatles, probably were bigger than Jesus Christ at the end of the egotistical “Me decade”.

Several authors point to this album as the savior of British pop. Its popularity encouraged (some might argue forced) record companies to find their own version of The Stone Roses, and in the process give us Blur, Suede, Happy Mondays, Oasis, Kula Shaker and dozens more. All thanks to this monumental, influential, classic album that still sounds as fresh and vital as when we first heard it with wide-open ears and gaping jaws nearly 30 years ago. Good on ya, lads!

 

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