Got this from a friend the other day, about The Stone Roses:
apparently they did one of those “unplanned” gigs and all the indie boys over forty were suitably teary eyed… but the best response is this one:
We need bands like this right now, come on all you young upstarts join the battle lets get our culture back #stoneroses #thestoneroses
— john robb (@johnrobb77) May 23, 2012
And then there was this review:
So this is how you stage a resurrection. Far from the bright lights of Manchester, in the town where Ian Brown was born, the Stone Roses finally returned to the stage 16 years after their acrimonious break up.
The Stone Roses are back together again!
If you want to know why the Stone Roses still matter, consider that their three huge shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park this summer are the fastest-selling gigs in British rock history.
All this is from the Thursday’s Guardian live review of The Stone Roses ‘secret’ comeback gig (in Warrington, last week). The band seem like they’ve improved somewhat since their notoriously-variable live heyday:
The famous songs came tumbling down, lifted by the guitar playing of John Squire. Made of Stone sent collective shivers down the crowd’s spine, whereas Where Angels Play sounded reinvented and even fresher than when first released. Perhaps most thrilling of all was hearing how the nimble rhythm section that almost single-handedly invented indie-dance remained intact – Mani’s bass combined with Reni’s drumming to devastating effect. The best drummer of his generation still has his idiosyncratic skills intact, playing those distinctive rolls with a defiant looseness.
[Ian] Brown was on great form, his voice higher than in recent years after giving up smoking. He fills the room with his presence as the band play through their hour-long set.
John Robb, as the twit-gigger, Guardian reviewer, and author of The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop (2001; an updated reprint is due) may be somewhat partial – and not everyone likes his Roses book
This book can be summed up in one word; abysmal. The author displays a woeful grasp of the English language and the only way I can see it ever got published would be for him to be related to the chairman of the publishers.
The book is littered with profanities and Mr. Robb takes every opportunity he can to express his own political views. He also rambles on about the positive effects of drug use and never once issues any warnings about it
which, as an author, is quite irresponsible.
The Stone Roses had a brief career, and a delimited discography; Robb suggests their second (and last) album is currently ‘underrated’, which is generous – it was overblown, overhyped, overlong, and was generally received as ‘disappointing’ at the time. I’d be more impressed by John Robb’s punk rock credentials if he was telling Guardian readers that Vibing Up The Senile Man was ‘underrated’, but that’s obviously an album from a different British ‘punk rock history’.
But, to use the band’s own messianic terminology, 268 comments and counting make it seem like it’s some kind of fucking Second Coming.
Obviously, not everything said is as adulatory or as ecstatic – there are always naysayers – and some people were indifferent to them at the time (but not indifferent enough now to stay out of the debate completely).
I dunno if The Roses meant anything much in the US or anywhere else in their heyday (1988-94). Despite ‘pop history’, they weren’t changing the face of popular music much during their brief career in the UK. But they left their mark on Manchester: long before they even had fans, you knew their name – especially if you used Manchester’s Central Library, STONE ROSES spray-painted to the left of the entrance. Never got the impression the band members used the library for much else.
(Stone Roses, c. 1985, before they had fans)
I was lead to believe that I would enjoy their 1989 album, and when I finally heard it in ’91, at the same time as I heard the Japanese Smile CD bootleg (and from the same source – thanks, Paul Bell!), it was kind of OK, but its ‘psychedelic’ credentials seemed heavily-dependent upon John Leckie‘s production. Live they were notoriously shaky – Brown’s voice was once reviewed as “so off-key it was excruciating to have to listen”.
But Stone Roses gigs were often one-offs, and memorable events, attended by hordes of E-addled British youth – and these youth are now 20 years older, and The Roses were an important part of their lives. I was the right age, and in the right place, but taking the wrong drugs for The Stone Roses, Spike Island (a “Woodstock for the baggy generation”), Madchester, ecstasy and ‘rave culture’ – we stayed at home, reading and listening to records, and so most of it passed us by.
John Robb makes claims for some kind of indefinable collective ‘genius’ (Reni, says Robb, is the ‘best drummer of his generation’), and many comments agree with him. But it’s all almost certainly coloured by nostalgia.
The band are astute in accepting the financial offer that must be motivating this reunion; they have little to lose if they stick to their formula (because that’s what their old audience wants), and if they make a new album, it will sell by default to pre-established fans – even if it’s not actually that great.
Individually, no one member has made any great mark on music since they split; Ian Brown seems to keep making records, and (like Morrissey) fans of his old band seem to keep buying enough of them to keep him in drugs or bananas or whatever. As The Stone Roses™, they matter more collectively than any of them ever could alone. And this is often what drives these kinds of reunions. Money might be an incentive, but a band’s brand is what is being bought and sold.
I suspect that I am done with any further commentary on The Beach Boys own reunion; I have no interest in seeing them myself. I’ve got the Smile Sessions box set, the Brian Wilson solo records, including Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE – plus my own memories of the live shows I saw; this new album is almost certainly gonna be mediocre, but will probably sell anyway.
The few negative comments I’ve had here, when I have said anything, attribute me with far greater powers of persuasion than, alas, I actually have – The Beach Boys Celebration™ will carry on, will run its course…there will be the album, another single probably; TV appearances, sports-event tie-ins; QVC promotions and performances…
There are audience videos on youtube, but I have no interest in seeing them. A recent correspondent has been braver:
I started browsing around YouTube and watched a number of videos from the reunion concerts, all varying degrees of awful. There’s a “Kokomo” from New Orleans with the audience yammering all the way through, people wondering if it’s John Stamos onstage (and excited about that prospect). There’s an “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” (from New York, I think) with Brian in terrible voice, sitting in front of a white baby grand.
It seems horrifyingly clear that there’s autotuning going on with Brian’s vocals in these reunion concerts, sometimes more, sometimes less. To me, it’s beyond sad. Brian was at the top of his game (such as it is) with the Pet Sounds and SMiLE tours, and now he’s once again an out-of-it guy at a white grand piano at the side of the stage.
Brian’s role in 2012 appears no different to his talismanic presence on Waikiki Beach a quarter century ago, and the ‘guest star’ promotional campaign seems as interchangeable:
John Stamos: (in a boat, c. 1987) And I grew up on those songs – Hi, I’m John Stamos (sounds like ‘I am John Stamos’).
I went to smileysmile.net to see what people had to say about the concerts and saw nothing but rave reviews (and some criticism of Stamos). I think these people must be listening only to the music playing in their heads.
All the middle-aged Stone Roses fans will be hearing what they want to hear, in their own heads, at their sellout Heaton Park concerts – but that’s all The Roses have to offer, and all their audience want to hear. For Brian Wilson, there seemed so much change, and for the better, between 1987 and 2012 – but now,
I can’t think of anyone in the arts who’s done more to destroy their own accomplishment than the Beach Boys. In jazz, Wes Montgomery gets cited as a cautionary tale, but I think the sorrow of the Beach Boys story far exceeds it
and I cannot disagree, depressing as this is. History has gotta be kinder.
Recent wordpress search term:
why does beach boy brian always run off stage
To escape? The shame?