When The Stone Roses toured Australia last year, I was surprised by how many people my age and little older went completely mental. Somehow, not only the band completely passed me by in their original heyday, but their legacy had also gone right over my head in the years since. I knew the name, but I think in my mind they always occupied the same spot as Primal Scream, just some Brit band of the early 90s who I never paid any attention to. But it turns out, a lot of people out there are bat shit bananas for The Stone Roses, and especially, their self titled debut.
I Wanna Be Adored represents a pretty common way to start albums in those days. All atmosphere and contemplation. It’s the kind of song that didn’t really grab me on first listen, but I also know it’s likely to grow on me. Like I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the opener on Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, at first the sparseness seemed empty and boring, but the more I hear that song, the more I ‘hear’. I wouldn’t be surprised if I Wanna Be Adored is a grower in the same way.
It drags at times with a little too much indulgence in soundscapes that I really could have done without. The end of Waterfall that leads into the entirety of Don’t Stop is at its best a boring, repetitive groove. At its worse, a complete musical wank.
Ever thought, “I wish Simon and Garfunkel were somehow even more boring and impressed by themselves”? Well, you’re in luck, because Elizabeth My Dear is exactly what a less exciting, more self satisfied Paul and Art would sound like. Mercifully, it clocks in at less than a minute.
From (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister, the album really hits it stride. Sugar Spun Sister involves most of the aspects I’ve complained in the previous songs, but somehow, this one really works for me. It has an effortless cool, and a certain energy that I just don’t see in many other tracks on The Stone Roses. And then comes the guitar solo in Made of Stone. It’s a good song before John Squire’s shredding kicks in. But once it does, it becomes the clear album stand out.
The Stone Roses closes with Fools Gold, a song I’ve heard a hundred times before, but obviously never actually consciously listened to. Because until today, I never knew its name or who it was by. A bit like the band blurring with Primal Scream, I think this song has always occupied the same place in my brain as I’m Free by the Soup Dragons. I’ve never thought about either song enough to differentiate them.
It’s interesting to hear what rock was like then if you weren’t into Guns n Roses, but Nirvana were yet to really break and change everything. It’s got an edge, but it’s trippier and a little more chilled out than what would dominate the next few years. The Stone Roses doesn’t make me feel like I’ve really missed anything by never having my mind blown by this band or this album, but it does make me almost understand to excited squeals I heard from many a grown man when they got back together. Almost.
And one last thing, forget about the music for a second and look at the album cover at the top of this review. Worst album clover ever? Even if you’re a mega fan, you must think it comes pretty close.