The Stone Roses: War and Peace, By Simon Spence
Yet to fulfil their youthful promise
Sunday 01 July 2012
This weekend in Manchester, the reunited Stone Roses may finally fulfil their youthful promise. Their 1989 debut album still dominates "best ever" lists, its melodies as sweet as the Beatles' (and sometimes lifted wholesale – the climactic coda of "I Am the Resurrection" owes much to "The End"), its rhythms as loose as the Rolling Stones'. It sounded great by night or day. For many, especially critics, it accompanied their first taste of disco biscuits and other naughtiness. No wonder more than 200,000 tickets were sold in minutes for these shows.
It's a pity, then, that Spence's exhaustive, well-researched biography is so solemn, every anecdote a marker on the road to greatness, rather than a celebration of a uniquely idiosyncratic, often absurd band. Their atrocious swansong at 1996's Reading Festival saw Brown swan onstage in the same togs he'd been wearing for three days in the bar. Even their own rave in a Widnes park was almost washed out by the rising Mersey.
Thankfully their notorious manager, Gareth Evans, defies solemnity. A local club owner whose premises included much needed rehearsal space, he signed the band to a hard rock label by mistake and took a sobering third of their earnings. The contract the band were offered by the major label Zomba was so onerous that it was later declared null and void. His lawyer wasn't even an entertainment specialist, nor honest in fact.
Naivety is hardly a crime. Pocketing a one-off five-figure payment from the record company probably is. Evans later starred in a documentary on his charges' rise and fall, gazing proudly at his golf course and declaring "I am the Stone Roses!" But without Evans's manic guidance, the Roses wilted. They played no shows between 1990 and 1995, their peak. Their second album took five years to complete, each member allegedly under the thrall of a different narcotic. The results were unashamedly classic rock. It was good, but it wasn't magic.
Instead, Spence is fascinated by the provincial lads who were ignored by the city's Factory clique or dismissed as "goths", lads into skinhead bands and scooters, with unlikely musical influences (brilliant guitarist John Squire wasn't inspired by Hendrix or Page, but by Bob "Derwood" Andrews of glam-punks Generation X). And the story isn't over yet.
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportThe coach of Chalfont St Peter's under-10s football team was relieved of his duties after he sent an email to parents that said: 'I am only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 UK chef creates world's most expensive ready meal - a fish pie costing £314
- 4 Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 5 I’m sure Kate Moss doesn't care about posing for Playboy. But I do