Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Stone Roses

Released 1989 on Silvertone/RCA
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 17/07/2001ce

Did anybody see this record coming? Did anybody think this record would later be called something like “The LP That Saved British Indie Rock” either? In 1989 I didn’t know that a new “Messiah” U.K. Indie Rock guitar band was needed as I was pretty much blown away by The House Of Love and My Bloody Valentine at the time.
Yet lead singer/lyricist Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire,
bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield and drummer Alan “Reni” Wren became just that with this, their self titled debut.

It opens with what sounds like a train coming to a stop (or is that just guitar feedback?) then opens with the snaking bassline of “I Wanna Be Adored.” Attitude and plenty of it seems to be first on the agenda for the Roses as Brown brags about not needing to sell his soul to the Devil ‘cuz “he’s already in me” then simply proclaiming “I Wanna Be Adored.” How’s that for confident? The bands proceeds to turn that snaking bassline inside out with a rough groove that still never loses its swaggering cool. All the while Brown still demands the audience to adore him (and that’s just the first song.) The rollicking yet ethereal train ride continues as “She Bangs The Drums”, “Elephant
Stone” and “Waterfall” rocket by with equal parts gusto and
neo-psychedelic cool. When Brown sings “Kiss me where the sun don’t shine the past was yours but the future’s mine” on “She Bangs The Drums” you know he means EVERY word of it. Every song here seems to be a kiss-off to any critics and/or a celebration of The Stone Roses and their lifestyle.

And the guitar playing here is just dazzling. John Squire comes very close to Will Sergeant/Johnny Marr-like fluid guitar genius. Perfect examples being those 3 songs I mentioned where he melds upbeat and melodic (and sometimes eerie) electric guitar lines with intriguing acoustic guitar undertones. And yet the Roses
still find time to experiment. They must’ve amused themselves plenty with “Don’t Stop” as they basically play “Waterfall” backwards and write another amazing dreamy song over it. And the ego-fest still doesn’t stop as Brown keeps knocking the haters down singing “What you just asked me you are an imbecile” while enjoying their time in the sun with the chorus “Don’t stop isn’t funny how you shine?” Did The Stone Roses have THAT many critics
before this album was made or what?

“Elizabeth My Dear” is a very short bitter pill for the Royal
Family and still sounds genius even though its melody is
basically sampled from the traditional “Scarborough Fair” (yes the same one Simon & Garfunkel covered.) “Bye Bye Badman”, “(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister”, “Made Of Stone”, “Shoot You Down”, “This Is The One” all sound like one classic mini neo-psychedelic guitar concerto masterpiece after another. Mani and Reni hold the
groove perfectly in a loose cohesion along with Squire’s liquid riffing. And if that wasn’t enough they end the album with “I Am The Resurrection” an honest to goodness 8 minute 12 second guitar freakout (with bongos no less.)

John Leckie must also be thanked here for stellar production. This is one of the best things Leckie has ever produced. He worked as a Tape-Op for the Beatles and then graduated to producing artists like Magazine and The Fall can you believe it? And THEN he went on to produce this and another classic, Radiohead’s 2nd LP The Bends. And although I wasn’t too impressed with their 2nd LP Second Coming what was said and done here still sounds like a blinding flash of guitars and good, free vibes. On the more surreal side, it is funny to note that one can hear Oasis learning a thing or two from this album. Also that
this debut would help kick off the “Brit Pop” revolution of the 90’s and get them placed near bands like Oasis, Suede, Blur and Elastica (all bands that had success AFTER The Stone Roses had broken up oddly enough.) Before I go, please look for The Complete Stone Roses compilation album. It adds a whole lot of cool pre-debut LP stuff if you’re looking for more treats.

Reviews Index