Review of the seminal Britpop album “The Stone Roses”
By Carter Bagley
In 1989, a young band from Manchester, England released an album that caused a massive cultural shift throughout Europe. Although it didn’t make much of a splash in the U.S. outside a niche group, it managed to usher in an entire new decade of British artists whom it influenced greatly. This band was The Stone Roses.. and the album was their self titled debut. Released on May 2, 1989 “The Stone Roses” was the first official album by the group following their three hit singles “So Young/Tell Me”, “Sally Cinnamon”, and “Elephant Stone”; the first of which was from an album they recorded and scrapped in favor of this one to release instead. The album starts off with the classic “I Wanna Be Adored” which is definitely a slow-burn and is later elevated once you hear the rest of the album that comes afterwards. With it’s slow intro and ambiguous lyrics right off the bat it seems this band knows exactly what they were capable of and plays to the fact that songwriters Ian Brown and John Squire (who are also the lead singer and lead guitarist) knew just how this album would build and evolve in it’s 49 minute runtime. Tracks 2 and 3 are when they decide to pick it up and start making some of the finest pop rock songs of the 80’s. With the groovy opening riff on “She Bangs The Drums” and the rhythmic percussion from drummer Alan John “Reni” Wren, all the way through the fade-out this track remains extremely catchy and sweet. “Waterfall” is another album highlight that contains beautiful lyricism and despite sounding very of it’s time it still manages to have a timeless feel to it that will never expire. It has a complex yet simplistic energy that not many other bands can boast. Songs like “Bye Bye Badman” and “(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister” are gleefully catchy pop tunes and the latter consists of a chorus that can rival any other on the album. The record is quickly elevated even higher once the song “Made of Stone” begins. A phenomenal track with spot on lyrics, poetic meaning, and a melodic composition all wrapped up with an explosive chorus that instantly made me fall completely in love with the album. It’s one of those songs that never really loses it’s effect on you, and every time it comes on I can’t help but smile. The next song “Shoot You Down” doesn’t hit quite as hard as many other tracks and instead of the confident jangly pop rock the other tracks have, it instead goes for a more old school subdued pop song; almost reminiscent of an early Beatles song though The Stone Roses still throw their own spin on it. This is the point in the album however that everything has been building up to. Right when the epic ballad “This Is The One” begins with it’s fantastic catchy lead guitar and the front and center bass guitar (bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield really shines in this track) it instantly draws you in. It goes from loud to quiet often and this style really works greatly with the lyrics. It’s a sweet, catchy, and confident pop song that perfectly showcases the band’s balladry skills. Immediately after this song the epic closer “I Am The Resurrection” begins, it’s an eight-minute perfect example of what the subgenre of Britpop could be capable of. The entire band does their job to perfection with Reni’s amazing drum skills and John Squire’s stellar lead guitar going hand in hand to build the instrumentation up to unprecedented levels. Mani’s bass skills beautifully compliment the extensive closer on many occasions and Ian Brown’s catchy vocals also come to play; because these young lads from Manchester knew exactly who they were in 1989, and knew exactly what they were capable of. As the rest of the band performed on all cylinders to leave a fantastic impression on the listener, Ian Brown wailed into the microphone declaring in one voice that he was the resurrection of rock n roll. He declared that he was going to bring British music back to the top of the world where it previously stood a decade and a half before…. and in many ways he did.
Highlights: I Wanna Be Adored, She Bangs the Drums, Waterfall, Made of Stone, This Is The One, I Am The Resurrection
Lowlights Lesser Highlights: Don’t Stop, Elizabeth My Dear, Shoot You Down