I’m going to say that there is no one in the world that can play like these three together. It’s an old thing that bands don’t do anymore, when they play together, that unseen member comes in and there’s something happening musically, like an undercarriage that’s just there, it’s magical. – Ian Brown
Inspired by recently happening across some fantastic soundcheck footage from South Korea’s Jisan Rock Festival in 2012, this entry to The Roses Read series looks at the otherworldly chemistry between Mani, Squire and Reni as players. It’s something that has seperated the Stone Roses from the pack since 1987 until today – an inextricable connection of musical spirits that has endured through trials of time, personal differences and loss.
The video, which amazingly went under the radar for a number of years, sees an unassuming Mani play around with Sugarhill Gang’s old-school hip hop classic, Rapper’s Delight. An impromptu Squire follows the bassman’s lead before erupting into some inspired noodling. It’s not long before the beatmaster Reni joins in, as Squire’s fizzy freestyling reaches its apex. It ends just as quickly as it begins. Two minutes of authentic Roses magic thankfully captured and shared.
Such high-level musicianship harks back to the likes of Can whose groundbreaking body of work was largely borne of in-studio improvisation, setting the precedent for experimental music forevermore. Interestingly, Bobby Gillespie has previously stated how this was a prominent method used during Primal Scream’s great Vanishing Point trilogy era, which Mani was of course at the forefront of. The ethos has carried on into the Roses’ rehearsal space, as displayed in the scenes during Shane Meadows’ first trip to the group’s sonic headquarters during filming for Made of Stone (2013). This jam would eventually grow to become a honed reprisal at the end of I Wanna Be Adored performances back in 2012:
It’s just something magical when us four are in a room together, you can’t put your finger on it and it’s just so beautiful to catch back hold of it again. Missed it, you know? – Mani
Entering its golden era of ’89-’90, the band became the archetype for a whole movement of young, idealistic Mancunians with pills and guitars. While the look was often replicated, the real substance – the music – simply couldn’t be. The wondrous realm of musicianship the Mani/Squire/Reni connection possessed was simply unattainable. From carefully crafted pop hits such as She Bangs the Drums to moody delights like Something’s Burning, the “undercarriage” Brown touched upon at the Reunion press conference gave golden era Stone Roses the best shot at entering Beatles territory as any group before or since.
With the drummer of a generation in Reni and the brains of Squire, it was the joining of Mani that, as Brown has previously pointed out, gave the band its groove. The bassist was the icing on the sweet, sweet lemon cake. By ’89, the undercarriage, or unseen member, was a fully loaded weapon of mass funkery:
After defining a generation of starry-eyed ravers in 1990, the Roses’ groovy core would evolve in the wilderness years, experiencing a bluesy comedown of sorts. Second Coming is very much Squire’s record but its early ’90s roots are stripped back, with the rhythm section taking an equal share of the limelight. Encapsulating this is the ’93 version of Good Times, a track that in completed album form is largely disregarded.
The penchant for off the cuff jamming appears to have been a prominent feature of the wilderness years too, as epitomised in Second Coming highlight, Daybreak. Its deep, rolling funk is quite unlike anything else due to its genuinely organic conception:
The upcoming string of high profile shows may well mark the culmination of the Reunion era. Whatever the near future holds for the Stone Roses creatively, there looks to be a memorable summer ahead if 2016’s live form is anything to go by. An inventive reworking of 1995 single, Begging You became a staple live number last year, one can dream of the likes of Daybreak getting a run out this time ’round.
Lyric of the Day: the mystery, all eyes to see / chemistry, all one family
The Stone Roses’ 2017 tour kicks off with a double header at Tokyo’s Budokan next week – look out for a special feature piece.