Thursday, August 13, 2009

Its 1989 again

Or you would think so given how many times I have heard or seen the Stone Roses in the media this week. Yes, its 20 years (where did that GO?) since the release of THAT album. I was a student then. A second year politics undergrad at Newcastle. As usual I was a little late getting on to them, missing not only their local gig at Uni but also a chance the year before to see them in a dive in M60.

Listening to the album now it still sounds very good. But is it great? Is it up there with the Beatles, Dylan and the Clash? Is it great art or just brilliant rock music? Ask me 20 years ago I would have said yes to all three questions.

Today I am not so sure. I am not sure the Roses represented anything much beyond a kind of Manc casualism. While something in their music touched me when I was 20 it doesn't move me today in anything like the same way, now that I have heard a lot more.

No, I think the Roses are great mainly in the sense that they were perfect in their time. Like Oasis in 94, like the Arctic Monkeys in 06. I am not sure people listening new to them now will quite see the fuss. Yes a great album by a band which had a new sound and some striking songs but not, in the wider musical scheme of things, a band of unusual innovation, statement or emotional reach.

Still, you can't really beat ` I Am the Resurrection' - go to Spotify and play it NOW.

3 comments:

Rob H said...

I largely agree with you on "The Roses" - there was a real buzz about them and the attitude they personified, and it certainly spread further than Manchester for them (especially for Indie kids). I saw them live on a couple of occasions and they were good, but not great live; it was more a great atmosphere generated by a largely Mancunian/NW audience (of which i was part of but maybe not the truest believer) that exhibited a level of delusional attachment to the band and where they came from. We have seen it with other Manchester bands (Oasis, and their 4 chord guitar songs being one of them); the adulation is almost evangelical and addictive. Good at what they do and extrememly entertaining (and that is what its all about isnt it?) but difficult to place in a list of artistic influence. More influential in a list of popular culture influence which maybe is actually more important (especially when you consider the political scenario in 1989) - the music and allegiance to it provided a breather from what was a pretty depressing time (especially in the North West) so good on em for that.

I saw Ian Brown perform at a festival a few years ago and realised that the aura around him is massive; he could literally have dropped his trousers and defacated on the stage and told the audience they were idiots and he was ripping them off and the crowd would have cheered in delirious worship - i left after 2 very poorly performed "songs". Completely agree that some of the Stone Roses anthems are absolutely brilliant though and they bring back so many memories from my youth.

Mark Griffiths 'ideally speaking...' said...

Totally agree, Craig, and a great post there, Rob. I saw the Factory story on Friday evening with the review of the Manchester scene. Except it wasn't really as much of a scene as they said it was. The early Factory bands apart (Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Section 25), they were all different. The Fall were nothing like The Smiths, who were nothing like 808 State. Appreciation also depended on your age at the time. My bands were the aforementioned JD and ACR - to me, they will always be sublime, but most people will not have even heard of ACR. And, as much as so many indie bands have been influenced by JD (from The Killers, Interpol and The Editors, to name just three), they won't be remembered in the sense that Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, Satie, Glenn Miller, Elvis, Dylan, Beatles and Bob Marley are remembered through time. So, as far as I'm concerned, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, then Oasis and The Charlatans, were all minor, derivative 'local bands made big', with nothing much going for them. But, if you were there at the time, they'll be your band forever. So, embrace them!

Andrew said...

Except it wasn't really as much of a scene as they said it was.

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Andrew
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