Is there really not one song by The Stone Roses on all of SteveForTheDeaf? The mighty Manc Daddies of all 90’s indie never got a track of the day until now? That doesn’t sit right at all.
I’m not sure how their reputation goes over seas. In the UK these guys are about as revered as a two album rock band can be. The wisdom of The Good Mixer is that when it comes to the first album This Is The One. The greatest debut album of all time to some. I for one think that’s over egging the pudding quite a bit but I cannot deny those early singles.
She Bangs The Drums, What The World Is Waiting For, Sally Cinnamon, Elephant Stone (both versions). All brilliant. All classics. All dance floor fillers then and now. Many consider the dance rock epic Fools Gold their absolute masterpiece. It’s all drum fills and bass funk and a deep trippy loose fit groove. It’s a unique blend of dub, rock and drugs that practically looped in the background for an entire decade.
Then came the long wait. The record deal dealers wheels within wheels. The shady Northern business men who tied the Roses original legacy up in so much contractual constipation. Between 1989 and 1994 the band we’re held to ransom. No new music was forthcoming. Rerelease after rerelease of those Silvertone singles came around and around while the decade took what they’d done and spread it to Happy Mondays, Oasis, Primal Scream, The Farm, James, The Charlatans, Ride, Inspiral Carpets, Swervedriver and The Verve… To name but a few.
When album number two finally landed it did so to some skepticism. The groovy ghoulies of the Northern Indie scene had been gone for half of the decade. We had a thing going without them. They might as well have been The Smiths it was so unlikely to get a new single from Brown and Squire. Then it happened. Love Spreads divided the room right down the middle. Half the gang were crying in their beer. They’d gone heavy rock. They’d signed to Geffen (Guns N’ Roses label) and put out a single that sounded like The Cult covering Led Zeppelin. Where was the baggy? Where was the E? Where was the groove? The other half. My half. Wow! they’d gone heavy rock. They’d put out a single that sounded like The Cult covering Led Zeppelin. How cool was that?
By the time Second Coming finally got out the people the dream was over. Baggy had gone commercial and the special Manchester sound had morphed into Classic rock. I. Love. Second. Coming.
The album sports some serious dexterity in the groove stakes. Don’t let the sad sacks suck the fun out of Tightrope and it’s Doors inspired campfire drum circle. Nor the majesty of John Squire’s sonic architecture on Ten Storey Love Song. The drum and bass breakbeats on Begging You lend themselves to frantic remixes perfect for the era and the spacious rhythms of How Do You Sleep has sent me off to many an happy slumber. I could wax lyrical about Driving South, Straight To The Man or Good Times but we have to get through the majestic entrance hall to the album to get to any of this.
Breaking Into Heaven is the epic opener designed to separate the posers from the rock and roll faithful. It does the thing Funeral For A Friend does before slipping into Love Lies Bleeding or Sparks does before Tommy gets going. It’s a lot to take but you’ve got to get it all down. Every last gulp.
I once had the great honour of discussing this via answerphone messages with the iconic John Peel. I never got to speak to him directly about it. I was once part of a project to make a intro reel for a treatment of The Peel Sessions becoming a weekly music program on TV. We worked on an option where Breaking Into Heaven was to be the title music. I left John a message asking a couple of questions about voice over and the track. He phoned back when I was out and left a voice mail saying the track was a good choice but there would be no space left if we wanted the kitchen sink in there as well. I count this as chatting about records with the greatest radio DJ of all time. Even though we never actually spoke to one another. The show never happened. I’m not even sure a showreel remains of the title sequence.
Over feedback loops, bubbles, distant bongo patterns and whale noises a five minute mood painting posing as a song intro burbles and farts away. You can hear tropical insects, church organs, voices coming through the pipes and the aliens from Contact in there as Mani and Reni cook up a conga for John to widdle and piddle around. We’d waited five years for THIS? I personally liked the tease. When the backward masking ushers in the guitar line proper it’s a real reward.
Brown whispers his return like The Second Coming was a secret up to now.
“I’ve been casing your joint, for the best years of my life. like the look of your stuff, outta sight”
By the time he hits the first hook he’s king monkey for sure. The Stone Roses were casing the joint of the big time rock stars and helping themselves to the rock star lifestyle.
“Listen up sweet child of mine, have I got news for you, nobody leaves this place alive, they’ll die and join the queue”
I am as enthralled today as I was the first time with the huge leaps The Stone Roses made in those five years away. It’s like a different band in a way. All those clever melodic knowing cues are still there but somone has poured Keith Richards blood transfusion in the urn and everyone has had a cup.
“Heaven’s gates won’t hold me, I’ll saw those suckers down”
Then Squire’s greatest solo kicks in. I didn’t want Sally Cinnamon back. I wanted The Second Coming. And boy did I get what I wanted.