Image: Manchester Evening News
It being March means we are mere weeks away from the beginning of Stone Roses season. Proceedings are set to kick off in Tokyo late next month, though one can’t rule out the possibility of the four-piece popping up for a low-key warm up show or two beforehand. The concrete news over the past few weeks however, is the official confirmation of Hampden’s special guests:
The first complete bill for the summer may well prove to be the best. Primal Scream could by all means headline a stadium show in their own right, and are a certainty to get the Glasgow crowd’s rocks off like no one else could. Steve Mason on the other hand, is as deserving of a place beside the Stone Roses and Primal Scream as anyone else. The ultra-talented musician fronted groundbreaking cult group The Beta Band from 1997-2004 and has since embarked on a bold solo career, always displaying a clear talent for left-field songcraft. The gig looks sure to be a communal celebration of great music.
On the topic of new music, Gordon Smart appears to be playing the waiting game like everyone else, with regards to concrete news:
There is no doubt that Smart is one to watch on social media with genuinely legitimate Roses updates. He had prior knowledge of not only the Etihad and Leeds gig announcements, among others, but also appeared to have heard All for One and Beautiful Thing before their respective releases, too. Therefore, he is probably closest source to the band on Twitter… other than Mani? The bass legend himself seemingly resurfaced on social media last month, with an unverified Twitter account which is followed by a host of credible users, including Mani’s wife.
you were missed
Elsewhere on the new music front, “the mystery” Ian Brown sings of on All for One is back again this year, naturally ambiguous as ever. Over the past few weeks, a public YouTube playlist entitled “Stone Roses Topic” (you can find more information on YouTube topics here) has been uploading various tracks from the band’s back catalogue. The channel in charge of the topic is none other than the Roses’ official YouTube account. Notably, back in June, the same topic was the original source of Beautiful Thing, as it had displayed the track’s artwork, with the audio pending the day before its release.
What is the connection to potential new music? Well, it is worth remembering that during the weeks leading up to the release of All for One, the group’s official YouTube account began re-uploading archive footage, such as Blackpool ’89, music videos and the performance of Fools Gold on Top of the Pops etc, perhaps in an attempt to keep the group relevant online before new music hit the airwaves. It is possible that the topic’s abundant activity in recent weeks – following months of inactivity – is a deliberate effort on part of the Roses’ official YouTube account to once again build up to a new release. As ever, things are open to interpretation. But being weeks out from the 2017 tour, any developments would surely be coming sooner rather than later.
And if, or when they do, what might further new material sound like? The first two singles of the new era have satisfyingly given us two quite different, but very Stone Roses soundscapes. Joyous comeback tune All for One uplifted us with its chiming guitar and calls for unity, acting as a teaser for the moodier Beautiful Thing, a celestial slice of funk-fused psychedelia. There is no doubt that the latter immediately became the fans’ favourite track out of the two, as it harked back to the likes of Something’s Burning and Breaking Into Heaven. With Don’t Stop being a staple of live sets since the reunion – and even featuring as an in-studio performance for Shane Meadow’s Made of Stone – there’s no surprise one of the new singles possesses a similar vibe. While many believe Beautiful Thing sounds driven by Ian Brown, there’s no doubt about John Squire’s penchant for distorted, funky jams:
Uploading a series of instrumentals to his personal site a couple of years before the Roses’ reunion, the guitarist showed he’d clearly had a notion for some experimental freestyling underpinned by more groove-based rhythms. Instrumental #4 above is similar to Beautiful Thing in that sense, with its laidback nature and looped beats. The addition of Begging You to last year’s set list could also hint at an inventive alternative dance sound featuring on future releases – or at least something that puts emphasis on the roll in rock ‘n’ roll, as this loose Adored jam from Made of Stone gave us an insight into:
Lyric of the day:
I’ve seen your severed head at a banquet for the dead / all dressed up for dinner looked so fine…