The Stone Roses ‘What The World Is Waiting For’

And they were, wern’t they?

The Stone Roses were a massive band for me- right age, right time, right part of the country. I’ve shied away from writing about them because a) there can’t be anyone who has even a passing interest in them who hasn’t got everything they’ve done, b) the whole world knows their story and I’m not sure I can add much to it, and c) their importance seems to fade each year and I’ve listened to them so much I can’t even hear them any more, it’s become almost musical wallpaper.

But they were massive for me. I first heard them when a hipper friend taped me the Sally Cinnamon 12″, and a year or two later on I saw them play. This was just before the first album came out, and they blew me away. It’s still the gig I judge other gigs against. I only knew a couple of the songs they played but the set knocked my head off, along with their arrogant cool, haircuts, trousers and the all the rest of it. Stunning. From that point on me and them fell perfectly into place and The Roses trajectory from the first album through to Spike Island (much better than people would have you believe, though there was a lot of sitting around in the afternoon) was close to perfect. Thousands of other people my age could say the same. Blackpool, Ally Pally, arrest for chucking paint around, blowing the sound on the Late Show, Fools Gold on TOTP along with Happy Mondays, photos on top of a Swiss mountain for the end of year NME- everything. Wonderful.

The other side of it is they really should have stopped there, and preserved the legend. We all know The Second Coming is better than the reviews at the time said, but then maybe it’s not as good as the fans have since said. Guitar overload, Ian audibly not interested, a fair few below par songs. John Squire was asked what he’d change if he had the chance to do that record again- ‘The cover was too dark’ he said, and then muttered ‘do it again over my dead body’. It doesn’t sound like anyone enjoyed it. Sure, the NME ‘Gotcha’ cover was exciting, and Love Spreads was great, but after the album was released they collapsed slowly. Reni left. The tour nights at the Apollo were stunning, but it already felt like nostalgia. The song they recorded for Help said it all- given the challenge of recording a song in a day they turned in a poor cover of one of their own songs (Love Spreads), with super-heavy guitar, flat vocals and an embarrassing piano bit. Totally dysfunctional. Arguments, remixes of Begging You (very un-Roses) , Squire left, the others slagged him off rotten, Reading Festival atrocity exhibition. The end.

Even after that they and others have continued to ruin the legacy. Middling to poor solo careers. The Seahorses (one good song). Two Squire solo albums, proving never mind about Ian, John really couldn’t sing. The highlights of Ian Brown’s solo career, to these ears, would fill a 6 track e.p. at best, including the track he did with UNKLE. And despite his best cosmic-love, stoner philosophy he’s still over a decade later got steam coming out of ears about John leaving. Reni? The Rub? Only Mani escaped with dignity intact and re-energised Primal Scream. Beneath all of that Silvertone have pillaged the back catalogue and sucked it dry, cheapening the whole thing further, re-releasing the album and singles multiple times. Last year’s twentieth anniversary box-set setting a new low, with a lemon-shaped USB stick of the first lp. I didn’t buy it. In fact, the only thing they’ve done which continues to earn respect is avoid reforming, which would be the real, living end.

So, despite their enormous influence on me- they changed everything, including the music I listened to, the width of my trousers and cut of my hair, or should that be cut of my trousers and width of my hair?- I have real mixed feelings about them these days, but occasionally when I hear Waterfall, or Adored, or Elephant Stone, or Standing Here, or chance upon the video of them on TOTP or The Late Show, or hear the opening chimes of Sally Cinnamon, or the last 6 minutes of Fools Gold, or this, the cool-as-Christmas flipside to Fools Gold, and close my eyes it can be good again. Cheers lads.

02 What the world is waiting for.wma

Wild Billy Childish and The Buff Medways ‘The Poets Dream’

It’s not all garage rock round Billy Childish’s way, no sir. This is the quite lovely ballad The Poet’s Dream, electric guitar but finger picked rather than three chord strum, great melody and aching singing, with Billy celebrating his muse. It’s a song for lovers, as Dicky Ashcroft once observed, far less successfully.

Speaking of muses (and not that godawful band from Devon) Nick Cave had a verse in There She Goes, My Beautiful World that goes ‘I look at you and you look at me, deep in our hearts we know it, that you weren’t much of a muse,but then I’m weren’t much of a poet’, which always makes me laugh. Billy Childish isn’t a Nick Cave fan so I doubt he’d be that pleased to be linked in this way, but then he doesn’t do the internet either so I shouldn’t think he’ll be reading this. But if you are Billy, say hello.

09 The Poets Dream.wma