So The Stone Roses are back


Years of speculation and denials and now it’s happened.  Just been reading that 220,000 tickets for three Manchester gigs were sold in 68 minutes.  Pretty impressive.  Hope they’ll come down to the Smoke at some point.  Might be hard to get tickets, but there’s always a way if you want them enough.  (Usually involving significant amounts of cash).

But let’s pause to ask, why are The Roses so popular?  They made two albums.  The first is now iconic but a friend reminded me today that it got 6/10 from the NME when it was released. The second album took five years to make and got dissed as a bit of a Led Zep workout when it finally saw the light of day.  In between there were a couple of very good twelve inch singles (ah, the eighties and nineties!) that were funky and rocky at the same time  (“Fools Gold” and “One Love”). And, er, that was it.

The first, eponymous (love that word – it’s so rock!)  album kicked off with the brilliantly arrogant “I Wanna Be Adored”, lurched through “She Bangs The Drums” and peaked with ‘Waterfall” which really did sparkle. It got a bit dull after that until “Made Of Stone” and the last track  “I Am The Resurrection” (arrogant, moi?). So 6/10, or maybe 7, was probably right.

“Second Coming” got slated because people were hoping for so much after the five year wait.  But there were some pretty good songs on it, Like “Ten Storey Love Song” and “Love Spreads” and “Driving South”. It kinda rocked, it wasn’t indie. People were disappointed. The Stone Roses were supposed to save the indie world.

But they represented something that grew and grew until they became pretty much the best band of their time.  What was it? I think it was mainly two things.

First they symbolised the coming together of indie music and dance.  Dance as in rave.  The “Summer of Love”, 1989.  And their riffs, the whole vibe, was a bit of a throwback to the sixties, The Byrds, the Doors, the Stones, The Beatles.  The fusion with dance wasn’t new – the New Romantics, inspired by Bowie, Kraftwerk, (and Michael Jackson) were doing it in the early eighties. But the late eighties and early nineties took it all to another level and the Stone Roses were the indie side of it. They set off the “baggie” movement: Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Charlatans and all the followers.

Second, I think the Roses were the bridge between The Smiths before them, and Oasis afterwards.  The Manc triumvirate who defined indie music for ten-twenty years: in fact, forever.  So many generations of music lovers can celebrate that, not just those who were there at the time.

And I guess there’s a third thing too.  It’s the association with football, and Manchester. United as the supreme team, City (until the oil money) as the glorious failures – but cool because the real Mancs (Oasis, et al) favoured them. Or so the myth goes.

And maybe a fourth thing.  Ian Brown has carved out an impressive solo career. John Squire is one of the great guitarists. Mani plays bass for Primal Scream. Their reputation has soared over the years.

So the myth is entrenched.  The Stone Roses are one of the great indie bands. They were the first to fuse indie with dance.  They had the best songs. Noel Gallagher was inspired by them.

I’ll happy buy into it, even if I don’t really worship the music – just like it.  And if I can blag a ticket for a London show I will definitely be there!

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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