The Stone Roses – round 90, Nick’s choice

StonerosesSo Steve and I brought the same record to record club.

It was bound to happen eventually, and with hindsight now seems inevitable that it would be this record given that there are now two Mancunians of a certain age in our little club. Factor in our theme of “records from when your cement was still wet” and it was a recipe for duplication, even though it’s notably odd that we’ve never really talked about The Stone Roses at record club before.

But that’s OK, because I was 10 years old and living in Devon when this record came out, so my story is a little different to his. I first heard The Stone Roses through the wall from my older brother’s bedroom, and later as a teenager I felt a connection with this album (I’m hesitant to say this band after everything that followed) and the singles and b-sides around it like pretty much nothing else I’ve experienced as a music fan.

By the time I got to The Stone Roses the band were essentially no longer a going concern; friends saw them live in Exeter when they toured Second Coming but it wasn’t until a few months later, I think summer of 1995, that I really got bitten by them myself. And by then it was too late. Years and miles away from ‘baggy’ or ‘Madchester’ or whatever you want to call the scene that The Stone Roses germinated within, they were an abstract artefact to me.

With no prospect of new records by The Stone Roses themselves, or engagement with a local cultural movement happening around me, I went to the local record shop and ordered a copy of Ege Bamyasi instead, because I saw a reference to how “Fools Gold” sounded like “I’m So Green”. Detective work followed: The Byrds, Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Love, Simon & Garfunkel, Funkadelic, Public Enemy, etc etc; there was a lot to explore just from references in interviews and articles. Instead of accepting The Stone Roses as the be-all-and-end-all of music, I took it as a beginning, and it broadened my horizons immensely.

One of the key things about The Stone Roses for me is that it’s not really a ‘rock’ record; it swoons and sways rather than rocks. The postpunkiness that clattered through “Elephant Stone” had evolved into something different by the time they recorded the album. Take “Shoot You Down”; with its sashaying drums and delicate, supple guitar, it’s closer to jazz than to the sound of Oasis, who so many people seem to think of as The Stone Roses’ heirs.

So given that Steve had brought the same album, I played a handful of the tracks from Turns Into Stone, one of many Silvertone cash-in compilations taking advantage of their miniscule early discography, but one that I can’t begrudge because it’s magical, and I’ve listened to it as much as, if not more than, the actual debut album. I played from “Standing Here” through to “Fools Gold”, and then skipped on to “Something’s Burning”; this handful of tracks taken together are the closest thing to what an album recorded directly after “Fools Gold” might have sounded like. (That this potential record never got made is a musical tragedy as far as I’m concerned.)

The instrumental coda of “Where Angels Play” is so mellifluous it practically levitates before your ears, content to exist as music and be beautiful without making a fuss. There’s something you’d probably have to objectively call a guitar ‘solo’, but it’s a million miles away from the cockrocking nonsense Squire would inflict in later years. Likewise the guitar playing on “Standing Here” feels effortless and lightweight, from the opening distorted yowl to the constantly varying chops through the verses, and the beatific, sad-eyed coda. And I’ve not even mentioned the rhythm section; Mani and Reni are doing things on these songs that I’ve never heard another ‘rock’ band do, rolling, floating, and swaying. If other music exists that sounds like this, I’ve never found it.

Even “Simone”, which I believe is simply a portion of “Where Angels Play” spun backwards, looped, and played around with, lead me outwards to ambient music; I doubt I’d have as much love for Eno or Stars of the Lid if I hadn’t spent hours as a teenage trying to figure out what it meant or how it made me feel things despite doing basically nothing but oscillate gently for four minutes.

Which is why the new single, their first in 20+ years is so disappointing; that subtlety, control, and grace that I was obsessed with, and which I still adore on the rare occasions when I revisit it, has evaporated completely. It shouldn’t be a surprise; it had gone by Second Coming (though I still rate “Begging You” as a fabulous piece of music), and there’s no trace of it in The Seahorses, or any of Brown or Squire’s solo music.

I feel like I listen to and enjoy a completely different version of The Stone Roses to the incarnation of the band that other people hear; we’ve often talked at record club about how we often like the same records as each other but for quite radically different reasons, and this band are a definite case in point for me.

Tom listened: The Stone Roses are a funny one as far as I am concerned. Loved them at the time, bought the debut on its release (despite the lukewarm reception from both NME and John Peel – two of my early musical barometers), went to an early gig at The Leadmill just as it was all kicking off, listened to little else during the glorious summer of 1989. Then Fools Gold came along, as well as that other single I can’t remember the name of and, for me, the lustre was gone and what came before was tarnished beyond recognition. A bit like Dorothy pulling back the curtain, Fools Gold revealed the mechanisms, showed the cogs at work, was ponderous and plodding and I fell out of love, just like that.

Fast forward almost thirty years, having barely listened to their stuff since, and I feel a mixture of emotions. The songs, in the main, have not recaptured that initial magic; I Wanna Be Adored just makes me think of the risible brothers Gallagher, Made of Stone whiffs of straightforward indie rock as pilloried by Lou Barlow a couple of years later, Bye Bye Badman does nothing for me and I never really got the appeal of She Bangs The Drums in the first place. However, the rest of the album gave me a huge dose of warming nostalgia, took me back to those endless sunny days when I felt that I was witnessing something culturally significant. It was a good time to be in the north of England and, possibly precisely because I haven’t been regularly revisiting it, The Stone Roses took me back in a way that few albums I’ve listened to recently have.


Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection: Round 90 – Tom’s Selection

Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection-FrontIf there happen to be any regular readers of our blog, they may by now have cottoned on to fact that I love a theme – the manoeuvring of my record club chums (and myself) into redundant, dust ridden corners of our respective collections brings me great pleasure, especially when the process uncovers long forgotten or unfairly neglected treasures. To be honest, I suspect that we all own more than enough music now to keep us happy for the rest of our lives yet still we push on looking (usually in vain) for the next pearl, when we already have necklaces worth of the buggers lying dormant, waiting to be re-discovered. That’s where the notion of a theme comes in…put it this way – I have probably bought less new music in the last five years than at any time since my late teens!

As Rob has intimated, this particular theme was not that well formed in my mind when I hamfistedly attempted to articulate it to the others but its aim was, ostensibly, to direct us to parts of our record collections beyond that which we would normally consider, pushing back through those early forays into what we considered ‘cool’, back to a time in our lives when music was simply music – all the other accouterments; the image, the album art, the lyrics, the message and, crucially, whether it was ‘OK’ to like it or not….well they weren’t even a consideration. In other words, the stuff you loved when you were a kid!

I listened to nothing other than the Beatles for years. Eventually, having acquired all their major albums and most of the solo and Wings related McCartney (whoops) I thought I might dabble with the dark side and turned to their arch rivals The Rolling Stones. And there it ended for a significant amount of time – as far as I was concerned that was enough music for me to last a lifetime (it probably was, to be honest!). I stopped exploring, hunkered down with my copies of Revolver, Get Stoned and Pipes of Peace and played them over and over and over, stubbornly refusing to accept (whenever anyone was foolhardy enough to suggest it) that anything else of worth was out there. Alternatives were superfluous and, inevitably, inferior.

I have my Aunt Beatrice to thank for breaking this cycle. She had a cassette of Elton John’s Greatest Hits in her car and played it to me and my brother on one occasion when she was giving us a lift. At first I tried to resist but those songs were just undeniable and it wasn’t long before one of my parents’ friends who actually owned some records that weren’t jazz or classical (I found this hard to compute at the time) was, somewhat foolishly, lending me his Elton John LPs.

I’m pretty sure the self-titled second album was one of them, Honky Chateau was definitely another and maybe Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was in that original batch. But, somewhat bizarrely, Tumbleweed Connection was the one that really hooked me in. Why a 14 year old from rural Somerset would particularly enjoy listening to adult orientated psuedo-Americana as sung by a young man from Pinner is beyond me – all I can say looking back with over thirty years of experience is that, the tunes are still damn fine (on the whole) and, for the 14 year old me, that was enough.

I posited on the night that perhaps the fact that the album was a unified statement as well, as opposed to the wide ranging eclecticism of the Beatles and Stones best regarded work (and, for that matter, the majority of Elton’s other major albums) might have added to the fascination. Whatever, I was hooked and can vividly recall, to this day, sitting in my parents’ back room waiting in fevered anticipation as the dual cassette assault of the mid 80s (the computer game uploading whilst the music rewound) played out – much to my mum and dad’s annoyance, no doubt!

What of the album itself? Well, until only a few years ago, I hadn’t heard Tumbleweed Connection since my mid teens. The cassette had probably warped or snapped and by then I was probably listening to Husker Du or That Petrol Emotion…or Dire Straits(!) and so I wasn’t going to waste my money buying an album I already knew so well and which simply wasn’t cool enough to like!

Becoming re-acquainted with it in the last few years has been interesting. I find about a third of the album bemusing, perplexing and..pretty boring to be honest! Opener Ballad of a Well-Known Gun is as plodding a piece of southern fried pub rock as you could ever have the misfortune to meet and Country Comfort has some of the most (unintentionally) hilarious lyrics ever written – come on Elton, do you even know one end of a barn, let alone a hammer, from the other? Musically its as predictable as the lyrics are surreal. Son of Your Father is risible in its lack of ambition, every note signposting itself before it arrives, this is country rock by numbers and, frankly, my teenage self should have known better! And closer Burn Down The Mission…well, it’s alright but it doesn’t half go on a bit!

But the other songs are as sublime today as they ever were. From the heart wrenchingly tender ballads Come Down In Time and Love Song (a dead ringer for some of Mark Eitzel’s more touching moments), to the soulful My Father’s Gun, which has an exquisite instrumental interlude proceeding it and, possibly best of all, the rollicking Amoreena, the good bits of Tumbleweed Connection more than make up for the rest and showcase a rare talent – the piano playing is, at times, breathtaking, the singing so unforced, so easy and the lyrics…oh, dang it, they are actually just awful pretty much all the way through the album!

But despite the fact that I now own plenty of records that Elton was trying to ape here (most directly The Band’s first two albums) and even though they are, in most cases, superior in pretty much every department (apart from the piano playing, of course) I still have a soft spot for Tumbleweed Connection..and I guess that after all these years, I probably always will!

Steve listened: Tom thought that I would hate this. Someone from the UK apeing an American sound. Parallels were drawn, before he revealed who it was, between Ronan Keating singing “life is a rollercoaster” with an Atlantic drawl that is about as contrived as it gets. But then the unmasking of the album itself. When I was a teenager I frequented the library for my early musical meanderings. MOR typified the non-distribution of taste within the libraries’ record collection – although there were a few gems that I will endeavour to cover at our subsequent meetings. I remember this album from their collection well, and actually quite liked it at the time. Listening again with fresh ears I can hear the terrible lyrics and the clear posturing to an American market by both singer and songwriter (Bernie Taupin was writing at this stage). There are moments of beauty though and you can hear the formation of the hits hiding around the corner. He is,on this album, one step away from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Rocket Man” etc. Waiting in the sidelines where he could probably still walk down a street and not be recognised we catch Elton here at a time in his career when it was all about to break through. So, perhaps this is more experimental than all his other albums as we hear him honing his craft?

Rob listened: Well, this is quite something. I guess we can’t be too surprised to find our Elton adopting a musical persona that he thinks is natural, but viewed by anyone else seems a little… over the top? Still, some of the moves he tries to pull off on ‘Tumbleweed Connection’ are simply jaw-dropping. Tom has referenced ‘Country Comfort’ and, well, wow, it’s amazing. We picture Elton in his grimy dungarees, a mouth full of tacks, sweating under the summer sun just to fix up old Grandma’s barn. It’s amazing to think that just 10 short years after he worked on the Grammy’s farm and rode the riverboat to New Orleans (whilst planting the seeds of justice in his bones) he was sat behind a white grand piano dressed as Donald Duck playing to 400,000 people in Central Park. What an incredible journey.

I think Steve has a point in that you can hear classic Elton tucked away beneath the surface here, waiting to break through. What’s remarkable for me about Tumbleweed Connection is just how completely he commits to the concept. For someone making only their third album it’s quite some side-step, perhaps the sort of thing we might have expected him to try 20 years into his career once he was safe in his own success. And so, as silly as it seems to a newcomer like me, it’s still quite a thing to behold, and weaved throughout here are some lovely moments. As I type I’m listening to ‘Where To Now St.Peter?’ which seems to be a melange of about five different other songs by Elton, Creedence, Joni, Skynyrd, all delivered from the perspective of a man who is keen to make it clear that “I took myself a blue canoe”. It’s very silly, but also very lovely. Perhaps a little like Elton John himself.

Graham listened: I did not know this album existed. I’ve never listened to an Elton John album until now. Was this a serious attempt to break America? Was it a record company idea? Was it drugs? It’s wonderfully bonkers, even down to the fact they made the sleeve photos look like they had been taken in ‘sweet home alabama’. Unfortunately every time something musically interesting happened, Elton soon popped up with some lyrics about the sawmills, barns, rocking chairs, bayous and porches of Pinner.

Big Country – ‘Steeltown’: Round 90 – Rob’s choice

steeltown-5320afbac36d4The theme warped a little even as Tom was trying to explain it. Bring something you owned before age 18. Bring something that you owned before you started to think music was cool. Bring a record from your childhood.

I think I know what he was getting at. Records that you bought and loved before you were conscious of the fact that the records you declared love for might be considered to say something about you and who you thought you were. I decided, therefore, to restrict myself to records I owned before I left school at 16. Between 16 and 18 I bought so much stuff that it would hardly be respecting the spirit of the theme to consider most of them, and at some point between those two ages, I definitely began to consider which records I was seen walking around with, which I lent in the common room.

Like a lot of you I’m sure, I can remember where I was and what I was up to when I bought many of my records, particularly those earliest ones. And so I also liked the idea of using these divining powers to lay my hands on my record collection and pull out the ones I knew I owned before I left school, effectively recreating the record collection I had at age 16. So I did, and it runs to no more than 25 albums, closing, I think, with Joy Division’s ‘Closer’, somewhat appropriately.

When it came to what to bring to the meeting, and knowing what Tom was after, there were only two or three records that were genuine contenders, and those narrowed down to one pretty quickly. The first record I ever bought was ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ by Adam and the Ants (as an aside, not only was this my first ever record, it was also alphabetically the first in my collection for 35 years, up until last month when I finally picked up a second hand copy of ‘Lexicon of Love’ by ABC). I’ve already played this at DRC. Next I fell for Frankie Goes To Hollywood and, much as I would relish the opportunity to unfurl surely the biggest gatefold glans in rock history for the boys at Record Club, sadly ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’, like it’s cartoon phallus, is just too long.

After Frankie I found – I think in this order – Big Country and then U2. The two bands seemed to me to be linked somehow at that point, perhaps as fellow Celtic descendants of shared punk and rock ancestors. I had the first five U2 albums but fell terminally out of love with them after seeing them play live on the Joshua Tree tour in June 1987. Even as a 16 year old thrilled by the scale of the event, there seemed something empty about the overall experience of what I had accepted was ‘the best live rock band in the world’. As a direct result of my disillusionment they remain the only band whose records I have ever sold on. Only ‘Boy’ remains in my collection. It’s only the last few years that I’ve regretted it and then very rarely. If anything my general feelings towards U2 have only chilled further, but I would still like to spin ‘War’ and particularly ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ another couple of times, for old times sake.

And so to Big Country. The process was, as I remember it, that I heard ‘Where The Rose Is Sown’ on the evening radio show that Timmy Mallett (for it is he) used to host on Piccadilly Radio in Manchester during the early 80s. I have a fairly clear, and probably unwittingly fabricated, memory of standing in my bedroom in the midst of some sort of fugue of brotherly mucking about, and stopping to listen to this brooding, stormy, military stomp coming from my clock radio. I was baffled, intrigued, and beguiled by it. Like so much of my favourite music, my initial encounter left me concerned and disturbed. Something about Stuart Adamson’s brutish open-throated moan, and the line ‘If I die in a combat zone, box me up and send me home’ seemed to immediately connect me to whole worlds I never knew existed and which I wasn’t sure I wanted to see. I was 13.

I got the album, not sure where from, maybe Tesco, knowing very little about the band and less about what to expect from the record. It was a lurch into the unknown, but one that it felt like I needed to take. Ultimately, spending time in ‘Steeltown’ further extended my growing realisation that music could shift me into completely new temporal and mental spaces. Here were sounds and shapes and characters and places and situations I had never encountered or considered before. Tellingly, in hindsight at least, here also was music that none of my friends knew anything about (although it turns out that ‘Steeltown’ was a number 1 album in the UK – I had no idea), and so began, in some small way, a lifelong quest to find music that would surprise and shock and perplex and be different.

I remember feeling so strongly that this strange, other place, embodied by the browns, purples and oranges of the soviet-style cover art, was somewhere I could reach, even though it didn’t sound like a particularly fun place to be. Here were abandoned wives, disenfranchised foundry men, conscripted soldiers in foxholes, a population mourning across the full gamete of loss. I found the sound incredible too. Energetic, dark, intoxicating, anthemic, strange and foreign. Clattering drums and shattering guitars and Adamson’s other-worldly voice all being driven along with insistent force.

And then, after the next album ’The Seer’, I moved on. Public Image Limited became The Fall became The Smiths became Joy Division and by the time I left school Big Country had become music that I used to listen to in the past. Whereas I could always stand up Frankie and Adam and the Ants as great, culture-defining pop music, Big Country seemed to be music that belonged in the attic of my personal past. I went back there every so often, maybe once every ten years, and usually with the patronising air of a tourist visiting a deprived country just to remind himself how much better he’s doing. How quaint this music that I used to enjoy!

All of which is to say that ‘Steeltown’ was the inevitable choice for this theme and now, having listened to it a dozen or so times over the last couple of weeks, I’m through the nostalgia and out the other side and into a rousing, inventive and distinctive rock record. It’s just as I remembered it, except, having listened past all the associations it has with my proto-teenage self, the years have not dulled it as I assumed they would. It’s a full and rollicking set, cut through with a darkness of tone that is enough to take the edge off the occasionally blunt songwriting.

The whole of the first side is pretty fantastic, high-reaching, energetic rock. The band seemed to understand that you could write songs and create albums about personal and communal desolation without having to make your music sound gloomy and dour. Instead ‘Steeltown’ swirls and chimes with the sounds of the land that created it. Mark Brzezicki’s militarily-minded drumming keeps the whole thing marching whilst Adamson’s guitar skirls and echoes in an almost shoe-gazing invocation of the bagpipes. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it seems arguable to me that what Big Country were doing when they created a form which blended contemporary rock with the sounds and textures of traditional Scottish music, deserved to be considered in the same light as the far more lauded efforts that Fairport Convention made to cross-breed rock with English folk.

And so there you have it. When the proposed theme began to morph from ‘Records You Liked Before You Knew What Was Cool’ into ‘Records You Liked When Your Cement Was Still Wet’, I should have swerved to XTC or Dexy’s or Madness or Human League or skipped forward to the impressions that really seemed to have shaped everything I’ve listened to since, see references above. Big Country were a first love, but one that I’d moved on from, one I actually forget when people ask me what bands got me started. However, it seemed right to go back to them, if only to revisit the flimsy favourites of youth. I was prepared to be embarrassed at DRC in the name of thematic honesty. Little did I suspect that the record would lose its surface covering of childhood memory and would begin to sing again in a different, perhaps even better way. It turns out that either I had amazing taste even as a 13-year old, or alternatively, that unbeknownst to me for all these years, Big Country have been mixed throughout the very cement that my foundations are cast in.

U2 Afterword: I’ve just had a brief listen back to ‘War’ for the first time in decades and within seconds it becomes annoyingly overwrought. Good grief Bono is a self-impressed vocalist, and with him helming, the whole thing is just so pompously over-inflated. Neither ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ nor ‘New Years Day’, both essentially fine, sharp post-punk rock tracks, can hold Bono back for more than 15 seconds before he barges in with an unnecessary ‘yeah!’ the only purpose of which is to declare, “I am here, listen to me”.

Stuart Adamson, by contrast, is a vocalist with a heavy and distinct style, but who uses it to serve the song. Fair enough, he doesn’t have the classical, physical strength of Bono as a singer, but sometimes singing is about what you don’t do, and what Adamson doesn’t do, Bono can’t stop himself from doing. Where Bono let’s fly constantly with the ‘oooooooh ooh oooooh’s, Adamson’s additional vocal touches run to the occasional ‘chk!’ sound, coming over like the noise of a man gasping for air amidst powerful emotional undercurrents.

When Stuart Adamson died The Edge gave a eulogy at his funeral, declaring that, “Big Country wrote the songs U2 wished they had.” He was right, and so was I.

Steve’s comment: I must say that before our meeting I would have put myself in the anti-Big Country camp. Following a listen to ‘Steeltown’ I was amazed at the richness and texture of the songs and was also inspired by the idea of taking Scottish folk and turning it into rock – almost the equivalent of roots based blues into rock & roll. At times the music did sound like a form rabble-rousing, a call to arms if it were. I will have to give it more of a listen since there seemed to be a lot in there that a first run would not pick up. The influences of Big Country on modern groups like Glasvegas seemed quite strong to me.

I have to agree with Rob on U2 though. I have never been a fan and even the early stuff grates on me. It is Bono to be honest. His vocal strainings and rock star pomposity come over all to early on in their career. Like he was trying too hard.

Tom listened: The stars aligned here – Rob’s offering contrasting starkly with Graham’s (thankfully) brief U2 interlude. The two groups stand comparison because they cover the same sort of ground (and were doing so at roughly the same time) and, despite not being a million miles apart musically, couldn’t be more different in almost every other way. Just goes to show how pivotal the frontman is, not just as an influence on the way the band sounds but, possibly more importantly, the way they make you feel.

Adamson sounds completely unpretentious throughout Steeltown. The instrumentation was a bit of an onslaught and, as a result, at times it was hard to see the melodies etched (scoured?) into the sonic barrage (my favourite song on a first listen was the last song on side 1 – it had a bit more space to it as it lilted in a vaguely folky way) but I would take a hundred listens of Steeltown (in fact that would probably be quite enjoyable) over spending another 4 minutes in the presence of bloody Sunday Bloody Sunday!

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses: Round 90 – Steve’s Selection


My choice for the album that cemented my music tastes before “I left home” was easy. It had to be The Stone Roses’ first, and some would argue their only album. If any record defines a moment in my life it was this one. Manchester was a kind of mythical place for me. I was born there, my dad worked there and one half of my family was from there. But there was nothing to draw me other than that. Growing up in a village outside Crewe didn’t really define me by my birthplace, and then along came The Stone Roses. I suppose many people, north-south-east-west of the country would pretend to be “Mancunian” because of this album, but that’s because it made you want to belong, to something great. After this came out I definitely wanted to go back. It would be nearly 10 years before that happened, but that’s another story….

The band themselves came out of nowhere, and history about them would only be filled in retrospectively. Such was their impact on the scene with this album. Well actually there was no scene before they came. They laid the road out before them, and defined a scene with just this one record. Originally a “goth band”, inspired by the melodic 60s overtones of Primal Scream’s “Velocity Girl” they ambushed us all with a new sound, having released a few poor selling singles prior to this (such as So Young). Remarkably, they only had a very local Manchester following at this point as well. Then came this album was released in May 1989. I was 16 years old…

People often compare them to the Byrds, but I think their music, on this album, transcends even the definition of 60s inspired indie pop. There’s much more to them than that. From the opening bass line of “I Wanna Be Adored” gives you anticipation, a feeling that something great is about to happen….and then the power chords of Jon Squire’s guitar sailing majestically across and trickling down with beautiful finger picking. There’s rock influence, but it’s not too overpowering (unlike the second album), and there’s even the brooding goth in there. Much underrated (I feel) is Reni’s drumming. There’s deeply complex rhythms in there that no other band at the time was attempting, changes in pace and subtlety. The merging of tribal dancing and rock is beautifully displayed on ‘Waterfall’ and ‘She Bangs the Drums’. Throughout the album it’s just one majestic track after another, but they were not afraid to slow it down and make introspection the theme of the day (‘Shoot You Down’ is sublime). The lyrical conent is also sufficiently vague to make you want to know more. Who, what, where? Drawing you in piece by piece. Pulling you to them, their places. In that way they deviate hugely from other bands who would definitely follow in their steps (Oasis springs to mind here), and those of their contemporaries. But that was it. This one album. The strange thing is that it barely sold at the time, and actually there was very little knowledge of it outside of a localised scene (or so I thought at the time). But it changed everything. People instantly dressed differently. They grew their hair longer and wore baggy jeans. There was an attitude that this album brought then enabled confidence in my youth and allowed me to be part of a real scene, a movement. It was a time when I could truly say “this is my time, happening now”. This movement danced in harmony with the rave scene, shared the apparel and boosted Manchester into something that could compete with London and knock it off its pedestal. The North was better and everyone wanted to come there and be a part of it.

When I thought of what to bring along for this meeting there was no doubt. When I looked for it however I couldn’t find it. Disaster! I had bought an original copy back in ’89. I even remember the day when I purchased it in Crewe. I started dreaming that I had seen it in my collection. After a bit of social media posting and some frantic accusations around the house (sorry to my wife for this) my brother admitted that he had it. It caused so much fuss in the house. But then it would. It is that special to me. Despite it being special to me I didn’t listen to it for nearly 20 years, and only very recently bought it again on CD. In some ways I couldn’t listen to it because it was so “of its time” for me. Now I feel I can go back to that time. Back to the summer of ’89 and pretend I am a ‘manc’, swagger around the living room and dance like a monkey to it when it gets played at a wedding disco. I guess there is a whole generation of us that feel this way. It was a very definitive signpost in my life, pointing me towards my hometown, drawing me back to my roots. When I listen to it now it makes me want to go back again “where the streets are cold and lonely, and the cars they burn below me”. My eyes are filling right now…

Rob listened: In the context of a Devon Record Club evening, ‘The Stone Roses’ turned out to be something of a curate’s egg. It’s a ‘grail’ record, one that all five of those in attendance own, and that’s surprisingly rare. It’s also a record that we all agreed had made a big impact on us when we first heard it. It’s clearly a landmark of one sort or another. So why then, did we also have to admit that in 89 previous evenings of discussing the intimate nooks and crannies of each of our lives with music, this band and this record have barely been mentioned, if ever at all?

We concluded that ‘The Stone Roses’ is a total one-off. The band were never able to come anywhere near repeating its mercurial success and, as such, it stands alone now, captured in aspic more than 25 years since the echoing opening of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ first seeped into the public consciousness. Nor was it able to have any genuine lasting impact on the music that followed it. It may have been a singular achievement, but it was not one that other musicians were able to build upon any more than the band themselves. If you disagree, feel free to list the significant artists whose music was unmistakeably influenced by The Stone Roses in the comments so we can tell you you’re wrong.

And so, unique, unrepeatable, alone, it stands forgotten, I would argue.I confess that at the time, although I lived closer to the epicentre than did Steve, and was in and out of Manchester throughout, The Roses never really and truly caught a grip of me. Already several years under the sway of The Fall, Joy Division, PiL and The Smiths, The Stone Roses seemed exquisite at times, but largely unsubstantial. I wish I’d gone to some of the gigs with my mates, but even back then, I wasn’t that bothered about this lot, and the years have only served to confirm that. I suppose the thing I love most about The Stone Roses is the devotion they inspire in those who were and remain completely smitten by them. It’s a heartening reminder of the way music can light a fire at the centre of your life.

Graham listened: I still adore this album and listen to it regularly. Often while cooking, which I’m sure the band had in mind when recording. It, and they, are unique, they got it so right, just the once. The reunion should be a source for joy, but leaves me feeling the memories might have been best left alone.


%d bloggers like this: