The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses 1989, Silvertone
I Wanna Be Adored
She Bangs The Drums
Bye Bye Badman
Elizabeth, my Dear
(Song for my) Sugar Spun Sister
Made of Stone
Shoot You Down
This is the One
I am the Resurrection
Pioneers of the “Madchester” sound, a mix of rock, dance and psychedelia and the first to bring indie and rave music and culture together, The Stone Roses formed in 1983 but it took them until 1989 to release their self titled debut, the first of just two studio albums that they ever created.
Although The Stone Roses regularly appears near the top of best albums of all time lists its success on release was slow burn, despite their previous single releases. It was the group’s increasing profile as a live band that eventually led to a higher chart position with the album peaking at number 19. Multiple re-releases have actually been more successful than the original release and in 2009 the album reached number 5.
The band have always had a deliberately challenging relationship with the media, giving few interviews and esoteric answers to questions and have given their releases minimal publicity which may also have contributed to slow initial sales.
The album opens with classic I Wanna Be Adored, singer Ian Brown’s voice is subdued, almost nonchalant but it’s a quintessentially madchester sound. She Bangs The Drums is one of the only classic love songs in existence that I actually like. Probably because you know, it’s kind of about drums. It’s a happy, beautiful song that takes you on a journey that feels like just the right mix of old school rock and psychedelia. Waterfall another warm ballad, clearly 1960s inspired, brings the opening triumvirate of the band’s most well known songs to a close. Don’t Stop shares much of its beat and melody with Waterfall but it’s a considerably weaker track, made as an experiment, it’s supposed to sound like Waterfall in reverse, so if you played Waterfall backwards you’d get something similar to Don’t Stop. I am happy to just trust that this is true rather than testing it for myself because I don’t really want to hear this track ever again. Bye Bye Badman written about student protests that took place in Paris in 1968 has a definite Gallic flavour to it with a jaunty rhythm and unsurprisingly it’s another one with a 1960s flavour. The brief, haunting Elizabeth, my Dear is a quick anti-royalist verse set to the tune of Scarborough Fair. (Song for my) Sugar Spun Sister will make you think of Oasis, for whom The Stone Roses were a huge source of inspiration. Made of Stone the second single release is another dark and moody classic with soaring guitars and delicate vocals. It’s the highlight of the second half of the album. Although it’s jazzy, Shoot You Down is pretty forgettable. This is the One however is uplifting and has brilliant flowing guitars and strong drums. Closer I am the Resurrection another of their more famous tracks is known for its lengthy guitar solo, but again, the drums are pivotal here. It’s a strong ending to a patchy album.
The Stone Roses, more I think perhaps than any other album I have covered seems to illicit incredibly strong love or hate reactions in people, The Stone Roses are either the actual resurrection and this is the greatest album ever made or they are the most overhyped British band in history. I have to fall somewhere in between. I enjoyed this album but there are only three tracks on it that I think are genuinely great, a couple of good ones and the rest are mediocre. Lyrically it’s quite pedestrian and its is the rhythm section that elevates the good and the great songs. The songs you already know are the reason to listen to it as there are no hidden gems (unless you’ve never come across This is the One before).
Listening to this album in 2019, it’s also interesting to pick out all the brit pop influences and the list of bands influenced by The Stone Roses is a long one, Oasis were inspired directly by seeing The Stone Roses live, but there’s also Spiritualized, Primal Scream (who even acquired a band member from The Stone Roses), Manic Street Preachers, Libertines, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, Kasabian, Kula Shaker, Ocean Colour Scene, Blur, Suede and Happy Mondays.
So in conclusion? Don’t believe the hype (positive or negative) but it’s still a decent album.