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.
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Kylie Jenner challenge: Bizarre lip suction device inspired by Kardashian sister goes viral
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bruce Forsyth backs assisted dying campaign: 'If I had Alzheimer's or dementia I would do something about it'
- 5 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
Poldark, review: Revolution is in the air as women fling mud in the eyes of the silly chaps
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Avengers: Age of Ultron: 'After credits' scene leaks online
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate