The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (Vinyl)

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Manchester at the end of the 80s was caught between two schools of musical thought. Still in thrall to the legacy left behind by both Factory records and the recently-departed Smiths it was also in the grip of early club culture.The odiously-named Madchester scene was just on the horizon. No band summed up this schism as well as the Roses. Originally a punk-loving, bandana and leather trouser-sporting bunch of rowdy locals with a following and a Martin Hannett-produced flop to their names, they finally re-emerged with Johnny Marr's chiming Byrd-isms married to new bassist Mani's loping funk on "Sally Cinnamon". Guitarist John Squire now felt confident enough to let his influences shine and Ian Brown had progressed from raw shouts to Mancunian cool. The sound was sorted. Now for some top, banging album action. John Leckie, producer for XTC, George Harrison and Simple Minds, was brought in as producer and finally the band released the prequel to the debut album, "Elephant Stone", a psychedelic raver which (along with "Fool's Gold") was included in the re-issued two-disc version of the album. When it did arrive it wasn't to the universal acclaim that it now garners as 'best debut album of all time'. Instead it was a quieter word-of mouth process that, within the year had put the band on top of the new Manchester scene and led to Spike Island and all its attendant problems. On first listen, The Stone Roses is a strangely old-fashioned album. Brown's multi-tracked vocals (he was never a strong singer) mix pleasantly with Squire's chiming Rickenbacker to produce a very mellow, 60s West Coast vibe. But if you get insisde the heart of songs like "I Wanna Be Adored" and "I Am The Resurrection" there's that unmistakeable swagger and defiance that was to prove such a template for Oasis a few years later.It's also this strange friction between old and new that makes this album so durable. Certainly it was Squire who took the band into essentially 'freak-out' territory, especially on the wah-wah'n'drum work out at the end of "I Am The Resurrection", and it was he who sank the follow-up with his adoration of Jimmy Page. But as an accurate picture of how working class hedonism fused dance and rock in the dying days of the 80s, this album is unbeatable.


It began as infatuation with the “Elephant Stone” single at the end of last year. The love affair blossomed at a Middlesex Poly gig in February. Now it’s become a religion. I’m obsessed. This record is godlike. “I am the resurrection and I am the life,” sings Ian Brown and it may well be true. Sheesh.

My tape of this LP has been played constantly since I got it six weeks ago – these songs are now part of my life. Let me try to explain. “Adored” leads you into this house of delights, gently at first as it fades in with a throbbing bassline, through corridors of harmonics. Then suddenly you’re in the main hall – its vast, oak-panelled, chandeliers hang from the ceiling and right in the centre there’s something dazzling, blinding, loud and intense, and it’s dragging you closer. You’re in. It’s a drug and you’re hooked. “Adored” swaggers and sways, sure of its own greatness, with this monstrous guitar figure at its heart, Ian Brown pleading “I wanna be adored” over and over (when I first heard it I thought he was singing “I wanna be your dog” which makes a spooky kinda sense). That’s the first song.

After such high drama, “She Bangs The Drums” is pure release. It forms part of a pure pop trilogy on this LP along with “Bye Bye Bad Man” and a pressed flower of a song, “Sugar Spun Sister”. All three can follow a line from The Beatles to The Smiths to prime Primal Scream (dream no more about what that last group might have achieved, this is the promise made real), and yet this is one step on, quite definitely. Exhuming the past to create the future.

The spine of the LP is John Squire’s guitar playing. Beautifully flowing, certainly psychedelic, there are elements of Hendrix (especially on “Shoot You Down”) and Marr (check the fade to “Bye Bye Bad Man”), but the rest is the lad’s own work. “Waterfall” is a showcase switching from acoustic to wah’wah to funk without once sounding clumsy. It metamorphoses into “Don’t Stop”, essentially the same song backwards with wacko forward lyrics. This is a trip. It could have been the weak link, but instead is put across with so much invention that it works perfectly. Words and phrases are half-heard, half-drowning under waves of psychotic psychedelics. “Ah so much waste, how we’ll be teased.” Well it sounds like that. “If you ask me you’re an imbecile.” Then the voice goes under for the third time and it’s over. Wow.

The centrepiece of the record is “This Is The One”. An ebbing and flowing masterpiece, it builds, for once, not around Squire’s guitar but on splashing cymbals, honeyed, layered harmonies and moments of virtual silence. It’s extravagant and ornate, full of menacing canyons. It will take your head off.

By the time “Resuurection” (love the pilfered Status Quo line, Ian) has taken off for Cloud Nine and you go to put side one on again, the feeling is who wouldn’t like this record? A song-psychle that allows for the relatively trad rock “Made Of Stone”, this is simply the best debut LP I’ve heard in my record buying lifetime. Forget the football on telly. Leave it all behind and listen to “The Stone Roses”. Once. Twice. Then you’ll know why I’ve made such a fuss. You’ll understand. This is the one, this is the one. This is the one . . .

By: Bob Stanley, Melody Maker 1989

A1 I Wanna Be Adored
A2 She Bangs The Drums
A3 Waterfall
A4 Don't Stop
A5 Bye Bye Badman
B1 Elizabeth My Dear
B2 (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
B3 Made Of Stone
B4 Shoot You Down
B5 This Is The One
B6 I Am The Resurrection

Record Label: Sony

Catalogue No: 88843041991