Image: BBC

This entry of The Roses Read is in direct response to a recent piece posted by Fortitude Magazine, entitled ‘Why I don’t get the Stone Roses’ 

As an ardent follower of The Stone Roses, I felt compelled today to write a response to a recent article shared by growing opinion outlet, Fortitude Magazine. There are numerous problems that see the nameless writer ultimately fail in his or her attempt to express bewilderment with the band’s appeal – certainly not if reason is anything to value. I will now dissect as much wrong with the piece as possible without unleashing multiple long-winded walls of text. 

First, The Stone Roses singer has a terrible voice

A common misconception. As is the case with every vocalist or musician, some performances are better than others, for various reasons. In the case of ‘The Stone Roses singer’, whose name is Ian Brown, you could absolutely point to shows such as the Roses’ headline gig at Reading ’96 in particular, as plain bad. Yet by the same token, peformances in which Brown reaches top form aren’t hard to come by, either. Look at Glasgow Green ’90, for example, and you’ll find genuinely flawless vocal execution from start to finish.

Outside of the adrenaline filled live setting, Brown often displayed impressive vocal capabilities in more stripped back environments that favoured his laid-back vocals, as typified with this in-studio cover of Bob Marley classic, Redemption Song, from the debut album rehearsals: 

Furthermore, when assessing Brown’s vocal capabilities in the context of the group’s reunion years, the ‘terrible’ myth is debunked time and time again, with last year’s headline show at Madison Square Garden boasting one of the frontman’s best live performances to date. The 53 year old garnered widespread praise across the board as he eased through tracks he’d made famous at 26: 

I cannot deny that “Fools Gold” is a brilliant tune, where the rhythm section of The Stone Roses finally gets their showcase

Fools Gold is a brilliant tune, but I’m afraid the statement that follows is an alternative fact. Not only was the rhythm section, being Reni and Mani, showcased consistently on numerous occasions before the release of Fools Gold (see Elephant Stone, Waterfall, etc. etc.)  – but the track is based on a borrowed drum loop, meaning Reni is the least exhibited memeber of the band. 

 most of the back catalogue is a case of style over substance and that’s my main issue.

To use the context of Second Coming for a moment in order to widen the discussion, the above statement is particularly careless. In releasing their sophomore album, the Roses were in a lose/lose situation: offer more of the pristine indie-pop that chimed throughout the stunning debut album and face criticism for being unable to evolve, or do something with a harder edge and be grossly misunderstood. The latter is what materialised because it was the natural progression of the group’s sound. 

They pursued a diverse sonic realm that ranged from alternative dance (Begging You) to balls out rock ‘n’ roll (Love Spreads) and most things in between. Entering the music culture of the mid-nineties following a hiatus that stretched back to the beginning of the decade, though, this was never going to be received positively. In a direct rejection of style in favour of substance, Second Coming ensured the Roses were definite outsiders in the era of ‘Cool Brittania’. 

the guys became the icons of Madchester because they were the easiest to market not because of their abilities.

The connection between The Stone Roses and the Manchester subculture is largely a shortcut used by music journalists, particularly with the notion that the group were somehow figureheads of the movement. Granted there is an obvious geographical link and a shared hedonistic spirit but the suggestion that the Roses were purposely marketed as leaders of the movement again has no basis in fact. 

The band are not set to headline Wembley Arena because of Madchester. The movement was short lived and relatively not as big outside of northern England as it might appear. And while lesser bands such as Northside exploited cultural novelties such as LSD in their songs, the Roses always did their own thing. They recreationally enjoyed acid house, but their eclectic music was largely influenced by 60s psychedelic pop and 70s funk. If the band were portrayed as ‘icons of Manchester’, it came later. Back in 1989 each member saw £10 a week from manager Garath Evens for their efforts, yet they gained a cult following across Britain, culminating in a sold out show in London’s Alexandra Palace. 

In an era of post-truth, a few short paragraphs of groundless sentiment will convince no one. The writer ironically accuses The Stone Roses of possessing a lack of substance, without bothering to expand on any of the main points that helped them arrive at such a conclusion. 

Image: Pennie Smith

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