The way the Stone Roses burst upon the British national scene in the spring of '89 couldn't have been more colorful. Loved primarily for their eponymous debut album, the Roses spawned everything from English populism to Oasis to a dance culture saturated with rock backbeats and neo-psychedelic allusions. And then, in what must have been the almost crippling pressure to follow up an album that had galvanized a generation, the Roses bogged themselves down with record label court cases and rampant egos and weren't heard from for years. They returned in '94 with Second Coming
, an album that disappointed everyone. The Roses split, and that, save for their vast influence, might have been that. But people seem to have a hard time letting go of the Roses.
This album is a testimony to that lingering influence. Various techno luminaries ply their skills reworking some of those early classic songs, and it is immediately clear that the Roses, even beyond the genius of their songs, were a preeminent dance band. When the guitars are high in the mix and the rhythm section tugs along the beat, the remixed Roses sound both before their time and years ahead of it. Ian Brown, long lambasted as a singer, comes off as a kind of Mancunian Orpheus, poetic and yet fallible, his accent as endearing as it is occasionally indecipherable. On 808 State's corrosive interpretation of "Made of Stone," Brown's voice is the stable center in a squall of shifting, diverting accents. With A Guy Called Gerald's remix of "Fools Gold," the Roses greatest track, the fluttering, smoky wisp in Brown's voice rides atop an almost sickeningly possessive beat, and it's hard to believe the song hasn't been an American club stalwart for years. But then again, the Roses did foist Brit-Pop on the world, and for every Verve and Oasis, there are the hosts of bands seemingly here today and gone tomorrow. But one can't blame the Roses for their imitators, no more so than one could slag off Sgt. Pepper
when Their Satanic Majesties
came out. As this album attests, the Roses don't ever seem to go away, which might just be the hallmark of the finest northern soul.
Copyright 2004 Goldmine / Krause Publications . Reprinted with permission.