Welcome to the latest edition of ‘Golden Vault’, where we delve into the annals of music to bring you a classic album. You’ll know some like the back of your hand and nothing of others. We hope to get you reacquainted with old friends and create new favourites. The album to be taken out of the Golden Vault for reappraisal this week is the self-titled debut album by The Stone Roses.
The 1980s was a dull, uninspiring and cold time in working class Britain and Ireland. Thatcherism and the ceding of the welfare state had all but obliterated the chance for creativity to bubble to the surface as the proletariat, so despised by the Iron Lady, struggled to make ends meet.
MTV portrayed glossy, disposable and fake pop stars who had been created in boardrooms by fat middle-aged men in ill-fitting suits. Synthesisers and artificial beats reigned and pop culture was awash with lost souls who sought fame rather than musical euphoria.
Then, everything changed.
Not overnight, but gradually. The words ‘The Stone Roses’ scrawled on walls across the most forgotten of northern English towns had signalled the beginning of something special. Manchester’s day had come again. Cottonopolis was once again the centre of the universe.
With the arrival of their debut album in 1989, life was suddenly available in technicolour. The terraces of football grounds heaved with the weight of stonewashed flared denim and colourful jumpers.
There is no point in analysing the songs. We all know them, we all love them. It’s a cliché, but these tunes were the soundtrack of the generation.
This Is the One, Waterfall, I Wanna Be Adored, She Bangs the Drums. Track after gloriously perfect track.
Of course, the old guard scoffed and have continued to dismiss it. Some still dispute the album’s presence in the ‘greatest of all-time’ lists, but these are the very people who had everything to lose by the Roses’ swaggering challenge to the music industry status quo.
The Roses were working class rebels who tapped into the subconscious of so many disillusioned people and made them think that everything was possible.
It’s not often that music and working class sub-culture overlap but when they do it leaves a lasting impression.
When, John, Ian, Reni and Mani returned to Ireland to play the Phoenix Park in 2012 it was more akin to a religious experience than a concert. Very few bands hold their presence and fewer still inspire such devotion.
Of course it all went horribly wrong, – as these great things invariably do. The Roses self-combusted into a myriad of drugs, infighting and an ill-conceived follow-up that featured a series of twiddly guitar riffs that went nowhere.
The Britpop ‘revolution’ was shown up to be nothing but a series of three-chord trick bands in Adidas trainers and the optimism of 1989 eventually fizzled out in the consumerist excess that the ‘90s became.
Still though, the legacy of the album remains. And it’s a beautiful, warm fuzzy feeling.