There is an extremely strong argument that a good amount of excellent music comes during times of hardship. Indeed look at the advent of punk during the 70's, and also the roots of alternative music in the 90's started in the turmoil of the 80's. While some bands such as the Clash and the Sex Pistols, and later bands like Sonic Youth in the 80's drew their inspiration from a political stance, some bands chose to ignore the struggles of the day and instead let the music take you to another place.
While in a lot of cases this led to the creation of absolute commercial drivel (see the emptiness of 80's glam metal and MOR), in some cases this created an escape to what could possibly be better times.
It was against this backdrop of gloom, that the Stone Roses were born. Their eponymous debut album quickly showed they were a band that meant business.
The sound of their debut showcased a distinctly retro band, but given a jolt of late 80’s realism. In fact, the beauty of the Roses was that they managed to counter some of their gloom with distinctly uplifting songs, add in some true Manc attitude, and you had a winning combination.
The rise to prominenace came about around the same time as the explosion in the drug ecstasy, which people were increasingly taking to escape from the dreariness of 1980’s Britain. The Roses fitted perfectly into this, with guitarist John Squire’s Bryds-like jangly guitars Ian Brown’s sleepy vocals, Mani’s grooving basslines and Reni’s amazing drums (and equally amazing backing vocals). That a band could release a debut album this good, almost defies belief.
The album starts off in an almost dream-like state with “I wanna be adored” which gently easing you into the album, before crashing into the thunderous chorus. This is quickly followed by the beautifully, fast paced, “She bangs the drums.” I dare you to not be cheer up after hearing that song. “Waterfall” and “Don’t Stop” follow on nicely, they are essentially the same song, with the latter being the former played backwards with different lyrics. Reni’s drums on Waterfall simply defy belief. I dare you not to dance to this song.
After the extremely dark 'Made of Stone' the album finishes up on an extreme high. When listening to "this is the one" (particuarly on headphones)all troubles cease. Indeed this should be played more in the Middle East. To me this is possibly the most perfect piece of music to be made, a piece of pure escapism which we all need at this time of woe and despair.
Just when you think it couldn't get any better, along comes the album's pièce de résistance, the 8 minute plus epic "I am the resurrection". It has possibly the most arrogant, some would say blasphemous, lyrics, ever put into song, but for a small moment you almost believe Ian Brown when he sings "I am the resurrection and I am the light." No he is not Jesus Christ, but I know I could listen to that song for all eternity. But what beats this is the instrumental section at the end of the song, with multiple false endings and a groove that you simply can't resist.
Simply put the Stone Roses is one of the best albums ever made, but don't take my word for it, take a listen for yourself. It is an album which manages to counterpoint some dark brooding moments with some beautifully joyous ones. Unfortunately after this album, the band went into a legally educed hiatus, from which they would never recover. They produced one more album, Second Coming, which had its moments, but fell prey to the second album syndrome. It would be their last.
With the world, economically, hitting tough times perhaps it's a good time escape the madness of the world andinstead enjoy some musical madness. Enjoy!