Cut – Stone Roses Review
The Stone Roses currently exist in a bizarre purgatory, inches between obscurity and fame. Legend states that men often strike gold in such territories, their signatures appearing on fast flowing contacts, their records appearing in the upper northern peaks of the charts. But legend also speaks of men who die out in the same desert, decaying bodies waiting to be discovered in some obscure dole queue, winos chuntering on about missed chances and an embittered past. Faced with these frighteningly high stakes folks, wouldn’t you be tempted to stage the odd wobbler?
It’s 7.30pm. Garther, volatile manager of the Stone Roses and a man with fire bombs on the end of his tongue, stands out in the night, wired up with delight. He hasn’t been happy with the way a Roses photo session is developing, so he’s balanced things out a bit by hurling a can of Strong Brew through the window. Inside, the band are flat on the the deck and nobody moves an inch. This is but one side of the whacky Stone Roses world. It’s a life on the edge of the big time.
Minutes later, same demon bowler and I sit ensconced in the cotton wool hospitality of a local casino club. It’s my first time in such a location, for Gareth, the surroundings appear to be second home. He talks passionately now about his biggest ever win: the band we’ve left back, up the road, the band called the Stone Roses, the band with a double six chance of success on the ever tumbling dice of pop.
“I take big risks every day.” he asserts. “It’s how I make a living. But The Roses are just so good and so accomplished, there’s really very little risk involved in this project.”
To prove his point, he produces a letter received earlier that same day. It’s from a major publishing house, and details an offer of twenty grand plus additional bonus payments for the rights to The Stone Roses’ catalogue. I’m immediately impressed and offer to buy a celebratory drink. “What?” screams the wild man incredulously. “Look, this offer is nowhere near our asking price – I’ve turned the buggers down, flat.” Another side of the whacky Stone Roses world folks. Flick that V at the business boys.
And so we move on. “The crucial strengths of this band are our songwriting abilities and our collective presence on stage,” enthuses guitarist John, a little later. “That’s why we appeal to so many people: we’re original, commercial and inspirational at the same time.”
Having seen The Roses five times in as many months, I’m forced to agree with him. Their live shows invariably begin with a liberal showering of power pop ground bait, then a deep throated guy hook is lashed onto the end of the vocal lines before the melodies finally swing deep into your memory banks. Before you know it, buddy, you’re a convert. And that’s just about when the ritual really begins. Vocalist Ian works up a demonic frenzy, wheeling the stage like a psychotic dervish, marshalling John’s chiming twelve string and drummer Reni’s totem thump.
Sound and spectacle swiftly build upon each other to finally deliver something not unlike The Monkees and The Byrds with dynamite up their bums. Sounds of the sixties, blasted into the eighties. Magic.
The Stone Roses now pull upwards of a thousand in most of the larger venues scattered around the Lancashire wastelands, and don’t tell me that’s irrelevant chum because what pulls is what sells and these boys are gonna sell BIG.
Ian pursues the point. “I was looking through one of last year’s music paper the other day and I suddenly realised how many of the bands featured n it have since disappeared. Even the bimbos on the front cover have now bitten the dust. It all seems to fit a regular pattern – the business picking up on a supposed cult, championing one of the bands operating within that cult and then becoming quickly disillusioned when only ten people turn up to gigs and half that number ever shell out for the band’s record. I couldn’t stand it myself. Somebody wrote in one of the music papers the other day that he believed people would still be listening to Stone Roses songs in ten years time and I must say I agree with him.”
So do I. The following morning, I’m watching a Monkees re-run on TV, when I suddenly make a mental connection. Great ideas, great visuals and great songs – people still watch The Monkees twenty years on. Hey wait ’til I’m telling my I was once caught up in the whacky pop world of the Stone Roses – as we all sit around glued to the set.