If We All Join Hands

Ok, let’s do this. The internet consensus is that the new Stone Roses single, All For One, is dreadful and that includes the opinions of people I know whose taste counts for something in my eyes. The problems, in no particular order, are a) the lyrics b) the tune c) the guitar playing d) the drumming and (lack of) bass and e) the written for the football stadium nature of it. It arrived like Roses things do with a sense of event, fanfare and expectation. It was the first time I’ve listened to Radio 1 for I don’t know how long. They’re on a hiding to nothing really, the weight of expectation, the gap, the silence since the re-union gigs, all mean that almost whatever they put out would be not enough.

But still, a) the lyrics- yes, dreadful, completely. The Dogtanian theme tune. If they’re an attempt at an early 90s positivity, power-to-the-people style vibe, they’ve missed the mark. The buckets of reverb on Ian’s multi-tracked vocals don’t distract from the fact that these are unfinished, half thoughts that needed to be reworked. b) the tune- I don’t mind it, it’s sticks. There’s something lurking in there. I’ve been trying to like it. c) Squire’s guitar playing is the highlight for me, and pretty restrained by Second Coming standards. The comparisons to Beady Eye and The Seahorses are a tad unfair- the riff, breakdown and re-entry at two minutes thirty something and solo are pretty good to these ears. d) The drumming- it does seem to lack Reni’s trademark fluidity, thumping away in a Ringo manner. The bass is submerged beneath everything else. e) It’s undoubtedly been written with football stadia in mind, all together now, sun going down, ‘in harmony, all one family’ as Ian sings, beery blokes with shaggy haircuts hugging and spilling their lager. Which is a shame- if they’ve started writing for their perceived audience then they have got a problem. Because if you take the feedback fade in, the riff, the solo, the phased sections and remix them, pull the FX forward and drop the words further back, make it more experimental and psychedelic, rather than something to be bawled back at you by 75, 000 people, then you’ve got something that picks up where they left off at some point two and a half decades ago. Not a single maybe but a song. And this is the real issue with it- it does sound, as people have said, like a song from a mid-90s Britpop compilation rather than the headspinning, sweet rush of the psyche-pop Roses of Don’t Stop or Elephant Stone or the fluid dance influenced Roses of Fool’s Gold or Begging You or the lighter than air Roses of Waterfall or This Is The One. They’ve mistaken muscle for swagger, volume for presence.

Their recorded legacy (such as it is and they’re in danger of pissing it away) rests on the eleven songs on the debut lp, the Elephant Stone and Sally Cinnamon singles, a clutch of B-sides from the album sessions (Standing Here, Going Down, Mersey Paradise, Where Angels Play) and the shimmering, mutant funk of Fool’s Gold. What they had in ’89 was a sound that managed to be progressive- it was 60s influenced but it was moving forward. Those songs weren’t written and recorded to be played in stadia- they were just written and recorded. They’ve become a stadium band since then- even in 1995 they were playing halls like the Apollo not arenas. If All For One was written in a shared flat in Chorlton and performed at a polytechnic student union building with a low stage and ceiling it would be a totally different song. The massiveness of those gigs three years ago and the groups growing reputation with the now grown up children of the original fans has totally altered their approach- on the basis of this song. There’s a chance that the album may be better, more nuanced and varied. The other problem here is that the music All For One harks back to is a debased currency- mid 90s, Dadrock. No one wants that- except I suppose a large proportion of the 150, 000 people who bought tickets for the shows this summer. I think they need to show that they’ve moved on, that the progressive nature that led them from Sally Cinnamon to Fool’s Gold is still there and that the lightness of touch they had that characterises their best songs is not lost. Instead they’re aiming for back row, half a mile form the stage

For the record then, and I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I feel like it- I don’t think All For One is dreadful. But it’s not great either. It’s alright- I can almost quite like it. But if it wasn’t them, I wouldn’t listen to it more than once. Yet here we are, loads of us, talking about it.

Two further things- in the summer of 1990 we waited ages for the new Roses single. It was delayed, the cover art had to be redone, the release date kept changing. Then it came out, One Love, the follow up to Fool’s Gold, a band at the peak of their powers and the height of their notoriety, and …. it was a bit of a let down. A decent tune, a shuffly drumbeat, early 90s positivity and power-to-the-people lyrics, but falling short. That was the moment their forward momentum stalled. John Squire said later he didn’t like the song, that it felt like they were selling something for someone. Sound familiar?

I’ve written about The Second Coming before, a flawed, overcooked, guitar rock album with a handful of genuine thrills. I’ve long thought that if  you could get hold of the mastertapes and had the technical skills, you could make a really interesting version- a long, drawn out twenty or twenty-five minute single track, an Orb style excursion, an Amorphous Androgynous psychedelic mix. Take the ambient, club influenced intro to Breaking Into Heaven and it’s burst into menace, the shimmering shards of Ten Storey Love Song, fade into and out of the campfire acoustic guitars of Tightrope and the wide eyed Your Star Will Shine, drop the vox in and out dub stylee, break down into Mani’s bass and Reni’s drums from Daybreak or Straight To The Man and then build up into Begging You. That, in my head, is where Don’t Stop, Waterfall, Shoot You Down, the backwards tapes experiments of some of those early B-sides, Fool’s Gold and Something’s Burning were heading. A headtrip. And that’s what All For One and whatever comes next should be.

How on earth have I got this much text out of three minutes thirty seven seconds of disappointment? Come on chaps, dig a little deeper and give us a little bit of something else.

And as a final thing, a few weeks back I saw this and it makes me smile…


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/22480716″>Go Home Productions – Begging Kylie</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/borisbhd”>BorisB High Def</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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In The Ghetto

This is from a charity album from a couple of years ago (1969- Key To Change, for homeless charities, all the songs being covers of songs from 1969). Bernard Sumner’s short lived Bad Lieutenant project doing Elvis’ In The Ghetto. It’s pretty faithful to the original and a song that maybe doesn’t stand much mucking about with but there’s an element of karaoke about it. Bernard sings it well and I suppose that’s the main draw- In The Ghetto being sung in a soft Mancunian voice rather than a Southern US one, and there’s a good guitar break from about 2.50 onwards.

I saw Bad Lieutenant at The Ritz. They played the first half of the set from the Bad Lieutenant lp, Stephen Morris on drums, a pair of guitarists plus Bernard’s guitar and it was all so-so. The second half was far livelier- a bunch of well chosen New Order songs, a rarely performed early Electronic album track and the Chemical Brothers/Sumner smash Out Of Control, then Love Will Tear Us Apart. Just play the hits Bernard, just play the hits. I had a ciggie outside alongside Mani who was asked by a passing gent when the Freebass album was coming out. ‘Fuck knows’ he replied. Things have shifted a bit since then for our Mani. Freebass (Hooky, Mani and Andy Rourke with an unknown singer and an ‘amusing’ name) was never going to work was it?

That Old Town

While in London we took the students to the O2 arena to see the Museum Of British Pop Culture. As soon as you put rock ‘n’ roll in a museum it seems to lose some of its charm in some ways but some of the exhibits were good. There were large projections playing in slow-mo (The Smiths, Wham and The Stone Roses on Top Of The Pops in the 80s, The Clash and Sex Pistols from 70s TV), different rooms for different periods, a room full of guitars and drum kits to play on and a rather nifty touch screen virtual record box which tried to tell the story of dance music (a good selection of tracks although I tutted and shook my head at what I thought were a couple of factual errors). In the rooms, as well as some touch screen stuff, there were various pieces behind glass- some Bowie costumes from the early 70s, a Small Faces bass drum, a royal flush of Spice Girls outfits, dresses belonging to Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield, a pair of Rickenbackers- Weller’s pop art guitar and Mani’s abstract expressionist bass (John Squire’s handiwork, along with Mani’s paint splattered clothes from that NME cover, visible in the left of the second pic).  Art-rock crossover. I was hoping for a Cubist drum kit but left disappointed.

It transpired that two of my 6th form students’ Dads were present at Spike Island along with me, a quarter of a century ago. They say working with kids keeps you young- it can also make you feel very old. I then spent some time racking my brains trying to think of when Weller and Mani might have played together and came up with this 7″ single from a few years back, a super sharp slice of Mod pop, recorded with Graham Coxon.

This Old Town

And here played live on the gogglebox- Weller, Mani, Coxon and Zak Starkey on drums.

They probably played together on a Primal Scream B-side too (‘Til The Kingdom Comes, XCLTR era, sounds like The Who) which I have posted before. In fact having just searched the blog, I’ve posted This Old Town before too.

 

Boot Boys

I’m reading Tony Fletcher’s new biography of The Smiths at the moment. The early chapters are pretty good on late 70s and early 80s Manchester. Wythenshawe’s Slaughter and the Dogs crop up frequently; as one of north west England’s first punk bands who supported the Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, as the big boys of Johnny Marr’s teenage locality and after the departure of vocalist Wayne Barrett briefly as the band for Morrissey’s early ventures as a singer. Mani says they’re his favourite band also. A version of Slaughter continues to perform at punk festivals. This is 1978 punk rock, as it was received in the largest council estate in Europe.

Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone?

Weatherall Remix Creation


I can’t let this Creation series go by without including Andrew Weatherall’s remix of My Bloody Valentine’s Soon, which was and is a stunning example of the art of the remix. Weatherall said recently that indie-dance remixes just involved sticking a breakbeat under a guitar track but I think there’s a bit more to it with this one, with that Westbam sample, the clanging riff, ghostly noises, the ‘here we go’ vocal refrain and the crunching beat. Su-chuffing-perb.

This track was the starting point in a way for me- it was looking for an mp3 of it that led me firstly to Stx’s Audio Out blog. The link had expired but he kindly supplied me with it, and many more tracks besides. That led to exploring a load of other blogs, which led eventually to Bagging Area. So, Soon Weatherall Remix, you’ve got a lot to answer for.

I was in indie nightspot South on King Street at some point in the late 1990s. The Stone Roses bassist Mani was djing and he played this. Coming through the speakers it sounded huge, distorting South’s iffy soundsystem, reminding me of the greatness of the track and with a Stone Rose playing a Weatherall remix joined a few dots neatly for me. Yep. I should probably get a life (popular early 90s saying).