The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989): Review

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Produced by John Leckie
Label – Silvertone

For most listeners an album’s accolades and influential justification are of course just as subjective as the musical content within them, and often aren’t mutually entwined. For some, a positively considered, critically qualified classic may not have the same resonance as a mere collection of great songs that passed the rest of the world by. “The Stone Roses” is one of those rare moments in modern British musical history where the hype and adulation is justified by its magnificent tunes and significant lineage to the cultural artistic developments that were affected by it. The record will be best remembered alongside the whole “Madchester/baggy” scene of the early 90s, but there’s undoubtedly a clear infiltration that laid the blueprint for Oasis, Blur and Britpop just a few years later. The Stone Roses could have been a second rate noise pop/post punk band had it not been for introduction of Gary “Mani” Mounfield’s groove laden bass lines and Alan “Reni” Wren’s spontaneous rhythms. Having developed a typically English brand of jangle pop and psychedelic guitar rock, with John Squire’s intricate guitar prowess and front man Ian Brown’s surprisingly sweet vocal, they assaulted the listener with an eleven song collection of startling beauty. Producer John Leckie carefully directs the natural exuberance, myriad styles and Brown’s often untethered arrogance into a sparkling mix of both power and tenderness.

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Song order is an often unnoticed and under valued accomplishment. Every song on “The Stone Roses” is perfectly placed, with the more flighty pop songs up front, followed by a series of more experimental concepts, culminating with weighty, more anthemic compositions to close out. The linear placement stimulates each track to new heights and encourages the listener to treat the collection as a complete entity. “I Wanna Be Adored” is the sole link to their Goth past, bass rumbling with a brooding swell as Brown declares his devil inside (“I don’t have to sell my Soul, he’s already in me”). Both “She Bangs The Drums” and “Waterfall” have a charming, dreamlike quality that’s impossible to resist. “Don’t Stop” (“Waterfall” played backwards) may be the weakest moment on the album, but it still has a level of ambition and conceptual energy that’s admirable. The revolutionary symbolism of “Bye Bye Badman” shows the band as more than just free spirited new age acid hippies, but politically reactionary lyricists. The anti-royalist “Elizabeth My Dear” further bears this out. Side two continues with an incredible consistency of memorable moments, including the heavily phased 60s tinged “Made Of Stone” and the underrated “This Is The One”, which contains some of Squire’s best guitar input. The album closes with the monumental “I Am The Resurrection”; which would have made for an excellent four minute pop single, were it not for the inspired and expansive instrumental outro that makes it easy to pass on even more superlatives. One often forgets what good musicians The Stone Roses were and the final four minutes are a testament to John Squire’s nimble lead guitar, Mani’s lean bass line and Reni’s rhythmical versatility. It’s a fitting climax to one of the great debut albums of all time.

The timelessness is a spectacular inevitability given the contents of this record. Magnificent!

10/10

Track Rating
1 – I Wanna Be Adored (10)
2 – She Bangs The Drums (10)
3 – Waterfall (10)
4 – Don’t Stop (7)
5 – Bye Bye Bad Man (9)
6 – Elizabeth My Dear
7 – (Song For) My Sugar Spun Sister (9)
8 – Made Of Stone (10)
9 – Shoot You Down (8)
10 – This Is The One (10)
11 – I Am The Resurrection (10)

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5 responses to “The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989): Review

  1. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. Incredible album from top to bottom. One of the best debut albums ever!

  2. Thanks Geoff, you too! “I Wanna Be Adored” wasn’t one of my favourites at first but it’s grown on me and is undoubtedly one of the standouts.

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