THE STONE ROSES: Although their time together as a creative force was relatively fleeting, there’s no denying that Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni produced some of the most breathtaking and unreservedly loved tracks of the past 30 years.
With a catalogue as impressive and filled to the brim with anthems as theirs, it’s no surprise that there are some track’s in the band’s canon which aren’t treated with the reverence that they ultimately deserve .
This is particularly applicable to The Roses’ over many other bands considering the initial lukewarm response to their sophomore LP Second Coming, an album which has aged remarkably well and is now widely regarded as an album which blossomed with time after the weight of expectation crushed it in an ungainly fashion.
With a new tour (and hopefully a subsequent new album in the works), we take a fond look back at some of their tracks which; despite being every bit as captivating as the tracks on their seminal debut, have failed to set the world ablaze in the same all-encompassing fashion.
The Hardest Thing In The World
Initially released as the B-side to the much loved ‘Elephant Stone’, ‘The Hardest Thing In The World’ arguably laid the groundwork for much of what was to follow on their eponymous release. Drenched in the unashamed fusion of classic pop songwriting and their own uniquely hazy aesthetic, it’s not hard to see classic outings such as ‘She Bangs The Drums’ and ‘Song For My Sugar Spun Sister’ as spiritual successors to it albeit notably more fleshed out. Ian Brown’s vocals fire on all cylinders and make a mockery of the naysayers that are quick to critique his immaculate cadence while the unmatched rhythmic synergy of Mani and Reni gives the track that classic Roses flavour. One of the most criminally overlooked tracks that they’ve ever produced, it’s well worth investigating for anyone that hasn’t acquainted themselves.
The age-old principles of blues structure re-purposed for an era which seldom borrowed from the ever-inspiring genre, ‘Driving South’ pays homage to rock ‘n’ roll’s foundations in the same manner that Led Zeppelin once did yet it didn’t garner anywhere near the same response.
While purists would be quick to deride the track on the grounds that it is too blatant in its efforts and sees John Squire attempt to abandon his staple sound in an overzealous way, the crucial tenets of what make the band so vital are still there for all to see. This notion of outrage among the Roses’ fans is why it is praised so heartily in 2015, they were a band that became such a pillar of strength and an intrinsic part of many music lovers’ lives that any attempt to branch out was met with scornful derision. There’s not a modern rock ‘n’ roll outfit that wouldn’t be overcome with self-pride if they’d crafted such a sprawling yet punchy track as ‘Driving South,’
Almost shamanic in tone due to to Reni’s inviting percussion and Squire’s subdued guitar playing that lurks malevolently in the background, ‘Something’s Burning’ was met with such a disconcertingly staid response when aired at 2013’s gig at Glasgow Green that the malaise momentarily undermined the poignancy of seeing the band reconvene in a locale that they’d once conquered with such virility. While it may be more of a slow burner than many of their compositions, its atmospheric build up and slyly delivered chorus are every bit as beguiling and magnetic.
Experimenting with harmonies and globe spanning instrumentation, if ‘Tightrope’ had been on Revolver or then it would’ve been met with rapturous applause and the open arms of the music buying public. Once again indicative of their fanbase’s inability to open themselves up to the prospect of an evolution in the band’s sound, ‘Tightrope’ is looked back on with fondness and makes you think how much they could’ve accomplished if they’d continued along this rewarding course.
All Across The Sands
“Bones of an impressive romance, scattered all across the sands. A secret safe all the world, too vain to seem so capable.” There are few piece of lyricism from The Roses that are so eloquent and downright poetic as that which herald the arrival of ‘All Across The Sands’. Released alongside ‘Sally Cinnamon’, on the surface it’s easy to see how this gentle and solemn ballad could’ve been lost in the fray. Complete with unusual, doo-wop based backing vocals and an all too brief solo from Squire which would set the precedent for the instantly recognisable sound with which he’d become so identified with, it’s a beautiful glimpse into a band that was cautiously finding its feet as they rise out of Manchester and into the world’s gaze.