They are the resurrection – The Stone Roses
Let’s be honest here. The Stone Roses are doing it for the money. Normally this would be regarded as a heinous crime against the sacred history of modern pop. Old men coming together to collect the grade of their nostalgia bitten followers and piss on their legacy for one last pay day.
But the Roses, cheeky 80s, baggy Manc vagabonds that they were and remain, get away with it.
‘Why?’, I here you ask.
It was halfway through the last decade and post World War 2, when a shake of Elvis’s hips invented rock and roll and as a consequence, sex.
It wasn’t until the mid 60s that popular music became sophisticated and more open via the drug-taking and experimentation of Lennon and McCartney. Since Revolver was released by The Beatles in 1966, every generation has had a hero, a band that defined the era, the clothes, attitude or movement.
Music that mattered to the man and the women on the street, so far removed from the elites of society.
The Who and The Kinks left the 60s spoiled for choice as liberation and leftism brought societal change. The 70s had Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, amongst others, railing against the establishment and status quo.
The stark, desolate landscape of the 80s was rendered tolerable by the brilliance of the Smiths, New Order and then when all that fizzled out, along came the Roses.
When their eponymous debut album was released in 1989, Britain was still in the clutches of Thatcherite Britain, recession and high unemployment. The Smiths had imploded, Paul Weller was dancing around the Royal Albert Hall in flourescent beach shorts and the charts were dominated by manafactured pop like Kylie Minogue and AOR dross like Phil Collins, music so awfully in contrast with real world.
Real music and real people needed a new band to take on the mantle and forge an on the ground movement, something special to placate youth culture and fans of credible sound alike. Something free of cynical marketing and record executive influence. Someone to challenge the establishment.
Four ordinary Mancunian lads duly obliged. Ian Brown with his confidence, his swagger and overwhelmingly cool attitude, later to be plaigiarised poorly Liam Gallagher. John Squire with his understated intelligence, aloofness, creativity and inventive guitar licks, the quiet man, the mysterious soul. Mani with his funky bass-lines holding the whole thing together and Reni filling the beats and making it all so instant and fresh.
They made a sound that no-one had ever come close to making before. Not because they were wild experimentalists, but because their four personalities were so strong, they each informed the direction. The lyrics were influenced by the era’s affairs and the music was a wonderful, chamber pop elaboration of everything that had gone before. The melodies, so sweet and sugary but augmented by the driving, alive rhythm section. The Roses were four bandits but what they produced had an understated tenderness.
They broke up in 1996 after a disastrous show at the Reading festival, having spent the intervening years since their first long-player, scrapping, procrastinating and serving up the the biggest anti-climax of a second album ever released.
By then Britpop was huge and massively over-rated and derivative bands like Oasis were turning pop into pantomime and pointless posturing. Several copycat acts followed, allowing real talent to get lost in the mire. Economic prevalence and the boom times didn’t help. Something was lost.
There hasn’t been a band like the Roses since their implosion, their sound too original to be replicated and no cause strong enough to invigorate new social heroes. Many of today’s biggest bands seem unwilling or unable to stand for anything, despite the world facing crisis and the music industry dying on it’s knees.
Coldplay took over from Oasis as the world’s biggest stadium draw but let’s face it, Chris Martin is basically Annie Lennox in drag, a great songwriter but one of little stance, middle-class and hardly someone who could be held up as a poet for the masses. The Arctic Monkeys are reluctant to become the spokesmen for the lazy internet generation and The Kings of Leon are a straight up rock band.
Who are we left with then? Snow Patrol? Please.
Enter The Stone Roses once more. Their music is still relevant and they have unfinished business. They have an agenda and a platform. They may have flecks of grey adorning their hair but no-one has ever made music like them, pop, psychedelia and rock, dripping with conviction and contradiction like, four talents, fused and free from inhibition.
The Roses mattered in the context of their time and they matter in the context of now.
It seems these days that in order to look forward, we must look back. Thank god the Roses are back together. Rock and Roll has its heroes back.
Posted by Robert McNamara, Sports Editor on at 10:55 am.
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