Wednesday, 29 June 2016

My 27 year love affair with The Stone Roses

I first noticed The Stone Roses when "What The World Is Waiting For" entered the UK charts. Yes, that's right, this was the original A-side of the single. But then some people turned it over and thus the world discovered "Fool's Gold" which was probably what the world was waiting for, something that did not sound like anything else we've heard before, from an indie band anyway. And we were stunned by the visuals when MTV Europe kept on playing it in 1989-90. My thoughts? It was "nice one, certainly one of the best of the Madchester era" of which my first experience was "Wrote For Luck" by The Happy Mondays (followed by "Hallelujah" and "Step On" of course). Indie bands you could dance to. But The Stone Roses were more than that as I was soon to discover thanks to the greed of their record companies, current and former. What happened? Well, after "Fool's Gold" huge success their company started re-releasing their previous singles. "Elephant Stone" was re-released and went in the top 20 and while it was still in the top 20 "Made Of Stone" was re-released and both singles were suddenly in the top 20 at the same time. And that's when I really took notice. "Made Of Stone" was awesome. "This song is featured in a movie, isn't it?" asked one of my fellow students. It wasn't, but it sounded like it was. So I went and bought both. Could they have written more brilliant songs? Yes they could, and I realized that when "Sally Cinnamon" was re-released by their previous record company to capitalize on their success. A re-release that sparked their famous court case when the band went and vandalized the company's offices. But "Sally Cinnamon" was probably one of their best songs ever! I bought that and then "She Bangs The Drums" followed by the American 12 inch of "Fool's Gold" on yellow vinyl to complete my collection. "You're missing one though" said one of my friends. Yes, "I Wanna Be Adored" proved a little bit more difficult to track down but once again I managed to find the American 12 inch. And just before I left for Greece for my summer holidays "One Love" came out and this was my latest addition and the one that made me think that yes, the summer of 1990 is going to be a great summer and the following years are going to be even better with more brilliant music coming from The Stone Roses...
And that's where I was wrong. The band went into a period of inactivity while caught up in another court case trying to get out of their contract and there was nothing from them. Meanwhile we would sit with my other fellow students to listen to the album and one of them concluded that "This Is The One" was probably the best song in there. A few months later my roommate came up to me and said "You like The Stone Roses? Well, you should listen to Waterfall, now that's a good song". Funnily enough, a month later "Waterfall" was released as a single in a remix that did not change the structure of the song, just added a drum loop to it. That was in 1991 I think and then a year later there was a remix of "I Am The Resurrection" in a shorter version again with a different drum loop. And then nothing. No second album.
Until late 1994 when "Love Spreads" came out. The second album did materialize then but before we knew what was going on, the band had split up.
I came back to the first album in 2001 though when along with the newly released "Remixes" album, I picked up the 10th Anniversary Edition of the first one which featured the non-album singles of that era plus some videos and more interactive material. 

Once again, I confirmed to myself that "This Is The One" was their best song, but I had the chance to rediscover others that would be my favourites, more importantly "Shoot You Down". And since at that time I was working in a record shop I finally bought "Second Coming". Why was I so late to pick that one up? Well, that's a whole different topic for discussion for my next blog post. Finally I bought "The Complete Stone Roses" to complete my collection. You see, there have been several compilations issued over the years but "The Complete Stone Roses" features all the singles (even their very first one "So Young" which I had found back in 1996), their b-sides, basically everything that was not featured in an album from their first era. So if you want to have everything by The Stone Roses you only need to buy 3 albums: The standard version of "The Stone Roses", "Second Coming" and "The Complete Stone Roses". That's it. Of course some people will mention "Garage Flower" a collection of demos from 1985 I think which the band did not want released, but you'll need that only if you are a completist.

But I would once again come back to the first album in 2009 when its 20th Anniversary Edition came out. Well, I had the 10th Anniversary edition why would I need the 20th one? Well, it was a box featuring 3 CD's (The album , the Extras-singles and B-sides, and some demos), 3 vinyl albums (The album and the extras), a live DVD plus a USB stick in the shape of a lemon that featured most of the above and more. I think it was the USB stick that did it for me and made me buy it. I remember I was abroad following Bruce Springsteen on his Italian tour of that year and when I came home I found the box waiting for me.

When I sat down and listened to the whole package in one go in the new year I said to myself "Now this is a band I would have liked to see live". This would probably seem like a wild dream, but with band reunions being in fashion it was a possibility. Confirmation of which came one year later when The Stone Roses announced they were coming back. However because of the Bruce Springsteen concerts I attended around Europe in these couple of years I wasn't able to see them in 2012 and 2013 when they played live (although I picked up this NME SPECIAL SERIES magazine from a newsagents during one of my visits to London in that period. I knew it would come in handy one day).
In the autumn of 2013 "Made Of Stone" the film documenting their reunion was shown at the Athens International Festival of that year. I watched it with my girlfriend and we made a promise to each other that the next time they would go on tour we would go and see them. We had to wait until November of 2015 when suddenly posters with lemons started appearing in Manchester...

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