The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses burst onto the pop music scene in Manchester, England, in the late 1980s, personifying the popularity of “rave” clubs, house music, and the “feel good” drugs of the era. Their flared, baggy pants, loose-limbed stage antics, confident lyrics, and neo-psychedelic stance defined their style.
At the time, Manchester was dubbed “Madchester” because of its “rave” clubs—like the infamous Hacienda Club—where patrons could spend a full 24 hours dancing, and the Stone Roses were quickly deemed the best of Manchester’s club bands by devotees of the rave movement. Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “The Roses expressed youthful independence and innocence in ways that suggested a new generation awakening.”
The popularity of the Stone Roses is also attributed to the wide-ranging and creative musical tastes of its members. The band became known for blending psychedelic’60s sounds reminiscent of the Byrds, 70s American fun kmusic, hard—edged punk influences such as the Sex Pistols, danceable’80s—style house music, and the innocent, sugary sounds of standard pop music. The band is a classic four—man British pop formation—like the Beatles—and is comprised of singer Ian Brown, guitarist and songwriter John Squire, bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield, and drummer Alan “Reni” Wren. Brown and Squire were raised inthe same suburb of Manchester, and Reni and Brown met at a fair when they were about ten years old.
The Stone Roses started out by playing a series of shows in Swedenafter achance meeting with a promoter. Then they began playing illegally in abandoned warehouses, created a burgeoning underground fan base. Their first single, “So Young,” was released in 1985, followed by “Sally Cinnamon” in 1987 and “Elephant Stone” in 1988. “Made of Stone” came out just prior to their album debut in April of 1989.
The band’s first album, Stone Roses, was released to much acclaim both in England and abroad. It sold 300,000 copies in the U.K. (where 200,000 signifies platinum certification) and stayed near the top of the U.S. alternative charts for several months—primarily by word of mouth—in spite of the fact that the Stone Roses had never performed in the States.
In November of 1989 the single “Fool’s Gold” reached the Top Ten on the U.K. indie charts, and “She Bangs the Drums” reached the Top 40. “Fool’s Gold” became the bestselling independent-label single of the year,
For the Record…
Members include Ian Brown (born in 1964), vocalist; Gary “Mani” Mounfield (born in 1963), bassist; John Squire (born in 1963), guitarist and vocalist; and Alan “Reni” Wren (born in 1964), drummer.
Group formed in 1984 in Manchester, England; began playing in Sweden after a chance meeting with a promoter; played in abandoned warehouses in Manchester, creating an underground fan base; first single, “So Young,” released in 1985; debut album, Stone Roses, released in 1989; signed with Geffen and released Second Coming, 1994.
Selected Awards: Stone Roses named best album of the year in Sounds and listed in “Top 20 Albums of the Decade” by Melody Maker.
and the Stone Roses album was Sounds’ pick for the best of’89. Melody Maker even included Stone Roses in their list of’Top 20 Albums of the Decade. “Rolling Stone contributor David Wild described the band’s debut as” an eponymous opus that winningly married’60s tinged folk rock with contemporary dance beats—upon the altar of a community still mired in the decade’s slickness and decadence. The musical community promptly worshipped.”
The Stone Roses staged a performance on Britain’s Spike Island in May of 1990, attracting 30, 000 fans. Still, the next single the band released—“One Love” in 1990—seemed like a recycled version of “Fool’s Gold,” and it was not received half as well as their first popular single. The Stone Roses struggled to maintain the popularity they had enjoyed in 1989, but a series of legal and organizational mishaps worked against them for a while.
In 1990, dissatisfied with their Silvertone label contract, the band went to court to resolve their contractual complaints. The time-consuming legal battle left them unable to record music or release new material until May of 1991. After the Stone Roses were finally released from their contractual obligation with Silvertone, they immediately signed on with Geffen Records. However, Silver-tone appealed the court’s verdict and successfully paralyzed the band once again until 1992.
In the years that the Stone Roses had been tied up in litigation, Manchester’s rave club scene had shifted into a more violent and less cohesive musical mode. Guns began appearing in the beltloops of concertgoers, and heroin was added to previously popular drugs like Ecsta-cy. Soon concert venues like the Hacienda were forced to install metal detectors at their entranceways. The Stone Roses, disillusioned by the change in the club culture, isolated themselves from the new music scene.
The band spent 1992 and much of 1993 traveling throughout Europe, savoring quiet time in the countryside and enjoying the financial windfall that accompanied their switch to Geffen Records, a deal said to be worth $20 million for five albums.
In the summer of 1993 the Stone Roses began working on their second album, only to be derailed again by unforeseen events, including a series of untimely deaths and the responsibilities of fatherhood. The new manager for the Stone Roses was one of the people close to the band who had died in 1993, and his death jarred the band’s psyche and sapped their drive. John Squire had a daughter that year, Ian Brown had a son, and drummer Alan “Reni” Wren had two sons, leaving each of them with less time for the band.
The Stone Roses had problems with producers in 1993 as well. John Leckie, producer of their debut album, quit working with the band that year because their creative pace was excruciatingly slow. For example, one studio session required six weeks of work, cost $60, 000, and produced only one three-minute song. The band eventually required 347 ten-hour days to produce 75 minutes of music, an extravagance that they felt they could afford.
Second Coming, the band’s dramatically-titled sophomore album, was finally released in December of 1994. This constituted an unusual five-year gap between a debut and sequel album and created a lot of curiosity in the music world. Many of the album’s singles reveal the mentality, musical influences, and politics of the band’s members. “Love Spreads” is a feminist tribute to the strength of women, “Good Times” is a bluesy rock song tinged with metallica, “Your Star Will Shine” is a Beatles-inspired folk song, “Daybreak” is an anti-European ode to African civilization, and “How Do You Sleep” is an unveiled barb at warmongering politicians.
The Stone Roses’ debut album was created and patched together by both Squire and Brown, but Second Coming was created primarily by Squire. He wrote all but three of the album’s songs, and he dominates its sound with his fiery solos, explosions, manic speed, and Zeppelin-inspired riffs. The influences of the Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, and the Beatles are all easily detected on Second Coming.
British pop fans had a mixed reaction to Second Coming, but most reviewers deemed the album excellent. A downturn in the political and economic climate in the U.K. may have had something to do with the tepid response of listeners; politics and a shared sense of hope had been dramatically altered in Britain in the five years between records for the Stone Roses. In the United States, though Second Coming reached Number 47 on Billboard’s pop charts in its first week.
In 1995 the Stone Roses chose Doug Goldstein, the manager for Guns n’ Roses, to take over their management reins. They obtained A&R direction from Tom Zutaut, who worked with Motley Crue and Guns n’ Roses, and their second album was mixed by Bill Price, who had previously lent his expertise to efforts by the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and Guns n’ Roses. With Geffen behind them, the Stone Roses were poised to take the United States by storm in the late 1990s.
“So Young,” Silvertone, 1985.
“Sally Cinnamon,” Silvertone, 1987.
“Elephant Stone,” Silvertone, 1988.
“Made of Stone,” Silvertone, 1989.
Stone Roses, Silvertone, 1989.
Turns Into Stone, Silvertone, 1992.
Second Coming, Geffen, 1994.
The Complete Stone Roses, Silvertone, 1995.
Alternative Press, May 1995.
Entertainment Weekly, March 10, 1995.
Los Angeles Times, January 15, 1995; February 5, 1995.
Musician, January 1995.
New York Newsday, January 15, 1995.
People, January 23, 1995.
Rolling Stone, April 20, 1995.
Spin, May 1993; May 1995.
—B. Kimberly Taylor
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