Number 16. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)
Madonna once came out with a great soundbite about pop music, which I can’t remember word for word, but it went something like “There is no better way to get into people’s hearts than writing a great melody.” If this is true, then it is one of the great mysteries of the world that The Stone Roses didn’t become the biggest band in the history of the universe. Beatles aside, who obviously did become the biggest band in the history of the universe, there has never been a band to record has many purely tuneful songs as The Stone Roses did on this album.
For a debut, it is incredibly confident, almost to the point of naivety, but there are moments on this album that, like certain songs in the repertoires of Oasis, The Flaming Lips and Michael Jackson, just defy any kind of negativity. They drew the confidence from the positivity, swagger and optimism of their own songs. The three big British indie bands of the eighties before the Roses hit were The Smiths, The Fall and The Jesus and Mary Chain, all bands who would revel in the bleaker side of music, and in the case of the latter two, aggressively so; and the relentless colour and vibrancy of this album, along with the fact that everyone had started taking ecstasy, is the reason that it is thought of as such a ground-breaking set.
I Wanna Be Adored, the first track on here, features possibly the greatest intro of all time. A minute or so of Eraserhead soundtrack-type chugging, then an intricate arpeggio based on a Celtic scale, then the best snare drum thwack since Like A Rolling Stone. As a statement of intent, it has no rival. Then they up the ante with She Bangs The Drums, a deceptively simple song based on a classic sixties E D A chord sequence, made unique by its fantastic Motown-derived bassline, and fittingly the lyrical proclamation “The past was yours but the future’s mine.” Everything just fits perfectly. Ian Brown, later derided for the weakness of his voice, is absolutely right for this album. His sonorous murmur adds to the ambience of the songs and brings a sense of unity rather than the pretension that a Morrissey or Tim Booth would bring.
For me personally, this is an album drenched in nostalgia. I first heard of The Stone Roses after hearing John Squire on the Oasis Knebworth show and asking my musical guru mate Mikey Jarrell who he was, and I twagged off school for the first and only time to go and buy this album the next day. From the age of sixteen to about twenty-four, Waterfall, Made Of Stone and I Am The Resurrection would be on constant rotation, whether on a knackered ghetto blaster at a house party, blaring out at an indie disco as we held our bottles of Reef aloft on the dancefloor, or being hummed by some bloke I met at work who calls himself Xavier Dwyer these days.
They blew it, obviously. Manchester bands all blow it. Joy Division, The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, Oasis… they all blew it. Dunno why. You don’t need to buy Second Coming, it’s not very good (response, Mr Taylor.) You should maybe track down the Fools Gold EP, Ten Storey Love Song and Sally Cinnamon on single, but primarily you just need this album. You’ll find some of the best melodies ever written, and songs that promise a future of endless dancing, bright colours and fresh fruit for everyone. And all those promises are here on one gloriously shiny little disc.
Best Tracks: I Wanna Be Adored, Bye Bye Badman, This Is The One
Best Moment: 1:29 into I Wanna Be Adored. The incendiary snare drum. The aural equivalent of a boot up the arse.
Like this? Try: A Northern Soul by The Verve, 1995
Allen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014