top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Leopardi

The Greatest Debut Album That You Haven't Heard: The Stone Roses

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

Have you seen her? Have you heard? The Stone Roses' 1989 self-titled masterpiece that is virtually unknown to most, but should be heard by all.

Album artwork designed by guitarist John Squire

The Stone Roses were a four-piece band that formed in 1983 in Manchester, England. They were prominent legends in the underground, "Madchester," scene which was a movement that took place in Manchester throughout the mid-to-late 80s in which artists integrated alternative rock, acid house and psychedelic rock. This was a cultural movement for kids known as, "baggys," that wore, you guessed it, baggy clothing, bucket hats, Adidas originals and took all the LSD and ecstasy within arms reach. Regardless of the stigma toward these drugs, one can simply never deny the fact that they are always accompanied with great music.

The Stone Roses consisted of Ian Brown (Vocals), John Squire (Lead Guitar), Mani (Bass) and Reni (Drums). Similar to the description of the Madchester sound, The Stone Roses debut record is the combination of indie-alternative rock, neo-psychedelia, and jangle-pop, splattered with hints of funk, topped off with dance grooves and backwards tape loops. Interesting, right? The Stone Roses first rose to popularity in 1987 with the release of the single, "Sally Cinnamon," and everybody and their mother knew who The Stone Roses were; they had arrived. Fast forward a few years after releasing multiple singles on multiple record labels, the band inked a contract with Silvertone records, a sub-divisional label of Sony that was geared towards working with newer bands. The album was produced by Peter Hook, the bass player of legendary, New-Wave, Manchester band, Joy Division and John Leckie, the legendary Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead producer/engineer. At first, the record wasn't a commercial hit, but the band eventually started to make a name or themselves in the underground Madchester scene with their lengthy, highly energetic shows in which people around the country would flock together to their shows and developed a massive following.

In 2006, NME, a highly-respected music journalism website in England ranked The Stone Roses as the number one album on their list of "100 Greatest British Albums of All-Time"

Now, let's find out why...

The first track off the record, "I Wanna Be Adored," opens up with faded, atmospheric chaos courtesy of pick slides with heavy delay, followed by THE bass riff which slowly builds up with shimmering guitar licks, followed by climactic drum beats before exploding into the main riff of the song. The perfect way to announce yourself on a record; to slowly build up, and then formally announcing your arrival with the tempo shift. The song is about wanting to be liked and not having to make any changes to yourself in order to do so. In other words, be who you naturally are instead of changing just to be liked by others.

John Squire, Ian Brown, some random drum tech, Mani, Reni

The second track, "She Bangs the Drums," the most melodic, Beatle-esque track with its jangle pop drum riff, harmonic chorus between Brown and Squire, new-wave inspired flanged guitar and running bass riff. A beautifully melodic song to sing with your loved one as well as a great, fun, uptempo song to run to as well. The lyrics don't exactly have one definitive theme. You can interpret it however you'd like, whether it be, "she bangs the drums," meaning the heart in your chest, or "kiss me where the sun don't shine, the past was yours but the future's mine," in reference to getting over a toxic relationship with a bum.

Album artwork designed by John Squire

"Waterfall," the slow, groovy, psychedelic track based around a single guitar riff throughout the duration of the song which has an under-water type vibe to it; for once I don't really know how to explain it, it's something you just feel. The song is about a strong woman that perseveres through multiple, bad relationships, lifts the lids of her eyes and gains control of her own destiny at the wheel. She's now a strong, independent woman in the end and no matter what she may endure, she'll carry on through it all, she's a waterfall.

"Don't Stop," is simply AWESOME. It's the instrumental take of the previous song, "Waterfall," except it's played BACKWARDS with new vocals on top of it. They literally recycled a great song, played it backwards and created an even better song out of it. Seriously, how awesome is that? This one is a real trip...

If you're a follower of my articles (first off, why?) you know that I don't like to give the entire album away, all I'm here to do is hype it up and help familiarize others with what I'm trying to turn them onto. The rest, you have to figure out for yourself and have your own personal experience with the album, I'm not going to spoon-feed you the entire thing. Think for yourself and let it become something special for you.

Mani, John Squire, Ian Brown, Reni (late 1980s)

"This is the One," a truly motivational track that can pull anyone out of any negative mood they may be experiencing. It's about receiving the opportunity of a lifetime, one that you'd better realize from the start and better not screw up, because this is the one...she's the one, this is the one I've waited for, this is the one she's waited for. It's about leaving the country with your loved one, dropping everything from your past life and leaving your hometown to live a life of luxury with your loved one, the one. Filled with infectious bass lines, masterful guitar riffs, powerful drum fills and an explosive chorus that you want to scream at the top of your lungs from a mountain top... a true banger and one of my favorites.

Album artwork designed by John Squire

"I am the Resurrection," the most epic track on the record and my all-time favorite Stone Roses song. The eight minute indie-rock anthem opens up with Reni banging away on the snare and right from the start, you know you're about to go on the adventure of a lifetime. The drums open the song, followed by an utterly fantastic, simplistic bass riff, then the vocals to the first verse, then topped off with with John's intricate guitar playing underneath it all, all four wheels are in motion. As the song starts off, it slowly builds up into the pre-chorus and just when you think it's about to explode into the chorus, it doesn't it teases you and goes into the second verse, leading back to the pre-chorus....the second tease, followed by the third verse, then leading into the third pre-chorus and then... one of the greatest moments in the history of music, one of the greatest choruses of all time that make you want to scream so loud and shatter every window in your house from sheer volume. The best part? That's only the first three and a half minutes of the song... Ian Brown exits and then theres a breakdown in the song where Mani comes in with the meanest bass-line on the entire album and then it's just ON. John, Mani and Reni all come together for the most EPIC four and a half minute jam, and these guys jam HARD. Out of every band I've ever listened to, The Stone Roses were always one of the greatest bands in terms of how well they were able to play their instruments and play off one another, and the rest is history.

If there's one song to listen to on this album, it's this one, its just too damn great. Put on your headphones, do your homework and find out why I've been rambling about this song as long as I have been.

Another cool fact about The Stone Roses roses is that although they were more affiliated as Madchester, Indie-Alternative and Neo-Psyhedelic, they paved the way for what would later become 90s Britpop. Bands like Oasis, The Verve, Blur, Pulp; none of them would have existed had it not been for The Stone Roses; Oasis in-particular because it wasn't until a teenage Liam Gallagher saw The Stone Roses in a club in Manchester and after seeing Ian Brown as the frontman that he was, Liam then decided that's what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, and that he could be great at it, but that's another story, as you know.

"That was my favorite gig of all time, killed me dead and changed my life. If I hadn't gone that night, I'd probably be sitting in some pub in Levenshulme" - Liam Gallagher

One final story, it's no secret that I'm an Oasis fanatic. When I saw Liam Gallagher in Central Park in May 2018, the DJ was going through a random set of assorted songs before Liam took the stage and the last song he plays before he always goes on is, "I Am The Resurrection." Everyone in attendance knew the song, we all sang it word for word, we were all jumping up and down going crazy. Every single one of us were screaming out hearts out when the chorus hit, it was one of the most memorable concert experiences I've ever had. The video above captures the exact scenario that I had experienced, only this took place in Manchester, the birthplace of both The Stone Roses and Oasis. Practically every diehard Oasis fan has also become a fan of The Stone Roses as a result of the band being very vocal of their influence. I just love it when you find a band that you love and then end up discovering and enjoying the bands that they love and inspired them to be musicians.

This was one of the funnest articles I've ever written and I'm so grateful to have a platform where I can share my musical experiences with everyone in such a personal manner. At the end of the day, I cant make anyone listen to the music I talk about, I can only help guide them towards it. Much like that quote that goes, "One can lead a camel to water, but can't make them drink,"

What an idiotic camel...

455 views0 comments


bottom of page