The Stone Roses: Twenty Years On

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses

As The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut album celebrates it’s 20th anniversary with a re-mastered release tomorrow, Live4ever takes a look at the story of an album which would both define and inspire generation.

“The past was yours, but the future’s mine”. Has a lyric ever summed up the intent of a band so well, as The Stone Roses finally released their debut album in May 1989, and instantly over-shadowed all the competition in front of them and made much of what had come before instantly irrelevant.

Emerging out of the struggles of early-80s Manchester, long time friends Ian Brown (vocals), John Squire (lead guitar) and Alan ‘Reni’ Wren (drums), The Stone Roses had garnered a passionate local following by 1985. At the time, the band also had Andy Couzens on guitar and Pete Garner on bass and that year they began work with legendary producer Martin Hannett on what was intended to be their first record. However, sessions broke down and with the band’s sound ever changing, only debut single ‘So Young/Tell Me’ would arise from their early work. It would be two years before the band would re-emerge, with a new sound and a new line-up.

In 1987, the band released ‘Sally Cinnamon’. Displaying a different approach from their earlier work with Hannett, the song offered a tantalising glimpse into the new workings of the band. Shortly after the release, Garner left the band and was replaced by an ex-band-mate of John Squire, one Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield. It was a watershed moment for the band, upon which Ian Brown would later comment: “When Mani joined it almost changed overnight. It became a totally different groove, straight away, everything just fell into place.” With the familiar line-up now in place, they continued to explore their new sound, and signed to Silvertone Records in 1988. What followed was the first real hint of the prestigious talents of the newly assembled four-piece –  their third single ‘Elephant Stone’. A step forward from the platform of ‘Sally Cinnamon’, it’s jangly guitars and souring chorus, underpinned by the great work from Mani and Reni, is a foreshadow of the marriage of rock and late-80s dance which would turn their debut album into a masterpiece.

Elephant Stone

The band first entered the studio to begin work on their debut in June 1988, recording through until February 1989. Working with prolific producer John Leckie, the band showed invention and imagination during the recording and the results were outstanding. Opener ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ sets the tone, underpinned by one of the best rhythm sections you could wish for, the song slowly builds, aptly introducing the talents of Mani on bass, which so underpins the album, initially, and comes complete with one of Ian Brown’s many provocative lyrics: ‘I don’t have to sell my soul/he’s already in me.’ The listener’s attention is captured, and the amazing high standards are set.

Next up is ‘She Bangs The Drums’. The album’s biggest hit, it was their first top 40 single and became the soundtrack to the summer of ’89 after being released in July that year. The fourth single from the album, ‘Waterfall’, follows. Released in late 1991, the track’s memorable riff and dreamy sound became instantly popular with the exponents of the ‘Madchester’ scene, and was a staple on the dancefloors around the country for years to come.

The consistency of the album is outstanding, virually unrivalled. ‘Don’t Stop’, a mix of ‘Waterfall‘ played backwards, was a happy accident stumbled on by the band and best illustrates the influence of the dance scene around Manchester at the time. Anti-establishment is the theme for ‘Bye Bye Badman’, who’s lyrics detail the 1968 French riots, and the short but sweet ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ which sticks around long enough for a dig at the monarchy ‘I’ll not rest till she’s lost her throne’.

Elizabeth My Dear (Recorded live in the studio during the recording of their debut LP)

‘Made Of Stone’, with it’s classic structure is a triumph of it’s kind. The chorus is one of the greatest singalongs ever imagined, the kind of song every band tries to write, but most fail to. It was introduced to the wider public when the band performed it on their first TV appearence, during which a power cut in the studio infamously led Ian Brown to brand the crew ‘amateurs’.

A survivor from the 1985 sessions, ‘This Is The One’ was one of the hardest songs for the band to fully capture in the studio. Producer John Leckiewould later recall: “‘This Is The One’ caused the most problems. There was always a big question as to whether it should go on the record. It worked real well live, a bombastic thing that got faster and faster and was a bit Nirvana-ish. But we had to work hard on getting the dynamics right and making the speed changes work smoothly.”

The album is rounded off with ‘I Am The Resurrection’, who’s outro, surely one of the greatest few minutes of music ever made by a British band, was recalled recently by Mani: “…what an ending! A great song followed by one of the best pay-offs of all time. The end section was recorded live in one take by me, John and Reni. Simply stunning.” ‘Simply stunning’ – a perfect way to describe both the song and the album it so memorably closes.

After it’s release, the album would struggle to be a commercial hit, peaking at #19 in the UK charts. However, it was quickly recognised as a cross-genre classic, delighting both rock and dance fans alike. As bands influenced by the album would start to emerge, it cemented it’s place as one of the most important British albums of all time, ranked by the NME as the greatest album ever on two separate occasions, and was also voted second in an industry ‘Music Of The Millennium’ poll in 1997.

Their growing status as the band of their generation, who delighted music lovers across the board was confirmed when they played a legendary gig at Spike Island in 1990 in front of 30,000 people. It was the crowning glory for the band, and despite struggles with sound and technical problems, became the defining moment of the era.

In subsequent years, The Stone Roses would struggle to reproduce the chemistry which came together so spectacularly in 1989. Despite further hits, such as ‘One Love’ and their biggest commercial success ‘Fools Gold’, record company disputes and inter-band tensions would delay a follow up until 1994.

Drummer Reni left in 1995, followed a year later by John Squire, before a disastrous appearance at the Reading Festival in 1996 brought a hugely disappointing end to the story of The Stone Roses.

It was a story which echoed that of The Sex Pistols a decade earlier – one of a band who with one fell swoop swept away all before them, producing a record that continues to inspire virtually any young buck with a guitar and a dream to this very day. It is arguably that legacy which is the greatest triumph of this amazing debut record.

A Legacy Edition of the album, featuring the re-mastered album, The Lost Demos and the Blackpool Live DVD will also be made available on 10th August, plus there will be a further reduced 1CD Special Edition, which will contain the re-mastered album plus the full 9:53 version of ‘Fools Gold’ bonus track, presented in a new gatefold digipack.

On top of this there will also be a limited edition Gatefold Vinyl re-issue that will contain the re-mastered LP on heavyweight vinyl plus a bonus white label 7” of ‘Pearl Bastard’



CD 1 – The Stones Roses (20th Anniversary Re-Master)
I Wanna Be Adored – She Bangs The Drums – Waterfall – Don’t Stop – Bye Bye Bad Man – Elizabeth My Dear – (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister – Made Of Stone – Shoot You Down – This Is The One – I Am The Ressurection

CD 2 – The Extras (20th Anniversary Re-Master)
Elephant Stone (12” Version) – Full Fathom Five – The Hardest Thing – Going Down – Guernica – Mersey Paradise – Standing Here – Simone – Fools Gold (Full Length) – What The World Is Waiting For – One Love (Full Length) – Something’s Burning (Full Length) – Where Angels Play

CD 3 – The Lost Demos
I Wanna Be Adored – She Bangs The Drums – Waterfall – Bye Bye Badman – Sugar Spun Sister – Shoot You Down – This Is The One – I Am The Resurrection – Elephant Stone – Going Down – Mersey Paradise – Where Angels Play – Something’s Burning – One Love – Pearl Bastard

The entire legendary Blackpool Empress Ballroom show plus videos for the five Silvertone singles.

The Book
48 page bound soft back book containing unseen images, brand new band interviews, interview with John Leckie, and high profile fans including Noel Gallagher and Peter Hook.

Blackpool Live
1. I Wanna Be Adored
2. Elephant Stone
3. Waterfall
4. Sugar Spun Sister
5. Made of Stone
6. She Bangs The Drums
7. Where Angels Play
8. Shoot You Down
9. Going Down
10. Mersey Paradise

1. Waterfall
2. Fools Gold
3. I Wanna Be Adored
4. One Love
5. She Bangs The Drums
6. Standing There

(Dave Smith)

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