The Stone Roses are an Alternative Rock band from Manchester, known primarily for being the Trope Codifier for the Madchester movement in the late eighties and early nineties, despite the fact that they did not consider themselves members of the Madchester scene. They're as revered in the native UK as Nirvana is in the States.
Their style is largely a mixture of indie rock, psychedelic rock and dance music. Its defining traits are bright, catchy sixties-style guitar riffs, a very funky rhythm section supplying good beats that you can dance to, slightly Beatlesque vocals, frequent extended songs and a heavy influence from Psychedelic Rock.
The band's key lineup, as seen in the picture above from left to right, was:
- Ian Brown, vocals (second, with the Dull Surprise stare)
- John Squire, guitars and artwork (third, with the wannabe-sixties haircut)
- Maninote , bass (first, looking vaguely contaminated)
- Reninote , drums and backing vocals (fourth, fella with the Nice Hat)
The band was formed in 1984 by Brown and John Squire, its initial lineup including Reni and two other dudes who aren't important (guitarist Andy Couzens, bassist Pete Garner). They initially wasted time as a gloomy, synth-heavy goth-rock band inspired by Joy Division, but permanently changed their sound in 1987 by firing the unimportant dudes and bringing in Mani, which led to them discovering their Signature Style, "Psychedelic Rock you can dance to".
Now signed with Silvertone Records and working with producer John Leckie, their debut album The Stone Roses was released in 1989 to massive critical acclaim and huge commercial success, and is still regarded today as one of the best British albums and best debuts ever. The record spawned several successful singles, such as "I Wanna Be Adored", "She Bangs the Drums" and "Waterfall", all major hits on both the UK Singles Chart and the newly implemented Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in the United States. The Stone Roses embarked on a successful tour of England, which culminated in a huge outdoor gig on Spike Island attended by 27.000 people on 27 May 1990 (plagued by bad organisation and sound problems), and continued to release singles.
Soon, the band decided to capitalise on success by moving to a major label, but Silvertone refused to let them out of their contract. An injunction filed in September 1990 prevented the band from recording with another label and started a long legal conflict between the band and Silvertone. The band eventually won in court and moved to Geffen Records, but the conflict blocked their activity at a critical time and slowed down their career by forcing them out of public view. In the meantime, Silvertone released the compilation Turns into Stone in 1992, containing all the non-album singles released until that point mixed with B-sides and new material, and re-released the band's previous singles as well.
The sessions for a new album finally commenced in 1993 but were repeatedly hampered by personal turmoil, culminating in Leckie's departure and the relocation to Wales with engineers Simon Dawson and Paul Schroeder. The album, entitled Second Coming (AKA the "I like it." album), was finally released in 1994, seeing the Stone Roses break from their colourful, psychedelic dance-rock and moving towards a heavy blues-rock sound patterned after Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. The album drew a lukewarm reception with critics (a main criticism towards it being "endless soloing" on Squire's behalf) and only moderate commercial success, although first single "Love Spreads" became the band's highest charting single in their entire career.
The band's resulting tour was disastrous and saw their gradual disintegration, with Reni leaving in March 1995 (replaced by Robbie Maddix) and Squire leaving in April 1996 (replaced by session guitarist Aziz Ibrahim). After two infamously bad performances at Benicassim and Reading festivals in August that year, the group was finally disbanded by Brown and Mani in October 1996.
Ian Brown thereafter continued with a solo career, Squire carried on for a while with a new band The Seahorses before retiring from music in favour of painting, Mani's joined Primal Scream, and Reni... kinda fell off the face of the planet or something.
While The Stone Roses' moment in the sun only lasted about two and half years and Madchester collapsed very quickly, their music remains critically acclaimed today, and their combination of Sixties-style guitar riffs and dance rhythms proved to be highly influential on Britpop. Oasis frontmen Noel and Liam Gallagher in particular are self-professed fans of the Stone Roses. The bandmembers themselves liked Oasis in return (Squire showed up at one of their concerts to play additional guitar on "Champagne Supernova" and Oasis borrowed Stone Roses equipment during the recording of Definitely Maybe), but disliked the rest of the Britpop scene, calling them "Kensington art-wankers".
On the 18th of October 2011, the band reunited and embarked on a world tour. They released two new singles in 2016, "All For One" and "Beautiful Thing", their first new material in decades.
- 1989 - The Stone Roses
- Which was remastered and re-released for the Milestone Celebration in 2009.
- 1992 - Turns into Stone (compilation of non-album singles, B-sides and new material)
- 1994 - Second Coming
There's also Garage Flower, an Old Shame 1996 release of an album originally recorded in 1985 with Martin Hannett and showing them in their initial crappy Post-Punk incarnation, some EPs (Sally Cinammon and Crimson Tonight), some singles remixed by Silvertone without the band's approval and some cheap cash-in compilations (The Complete Stone Roses and The Very Best of the Stone Roses - the latter at least had band input into song selection).
Tropes related to The Stone Roses:
- Album Title Drop: Turns into Stone is named after the final line of "One Love".
- Art Imitates Art: The B-side of "Made of Stone", "Going Down", references Jackson Pollock's No. 5, 1948. Pollock's paintings influenced the cover art that guitarist John Squire made for the single and the album.
- Author Appeal: Republicanism, the May 1968 student riots in Paris.
- Brick Joke: A musical example of this shows up in the 8-minute long "I Am the Resurrection". The first three minutes are dominated by a Motown-influenced groove with a catchy, descending bassline. After Ian Brown finishes his vocals, the band launch into an epic 5-minute funk-rock improvisation. And towards the end, Mani works in the descending bassline again.
- Capitalism Is Bad: "What the World Is Waiting For" isn't particularly subtle with its imagery, with the donkey here symbolising an exploited proletariat:Here comes the donkey
Chained to a ten ton plough
He'll never make that hill in a million years
Whip crack beating down
He loves his brother
But he'd sell him for a fistful of gold
He needs a slave for his vision of the promised land
No, I don't believe a word
- Childhood Friends: Ian and John knew each other from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. They became friends when Ian helped John in a fight against the school bully.
- Continuity Nod: "Fool's Gold", "What the World Is Waiting For" and "One Love" all recycle the same drum beat sampled from "Hot Pants" by Bobby Byrd.
- Darker and Edgier: Second Coming, especially "Begging You". There is a lot of debate over whether the Darker and Edgier shift was successful.
- The Diss Song: According to John Squire, "I am the Resurrection" was aimed at someone he and Ian Brown knew and hated.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Their first single "So Young" demonstrates a very different aggressive punk style than their later material with Reni in particular showcasing a more exuberant drumming style.
- Echoing Acoustics: Hey, check out the eighties gated reverb on the drums on The Stone Roses.
- The Ending Changes Everything: "Sally Cinnamon" is a sweet-natured, pleasant-sounding bubblegum pop song about the titular Sally. Then it gets to the third verse and reveals the protagonist is just wistfully reading a letter he found on a train and fantasizing about the unknown woman it's addressed to.
- Epic Rocking: "I Am the Resurrection" (8:15), "Fool's Gold" (9:55), "One Love" (7:46), "Something's Burning" (7:46), "Breaking into Heaven" (11:21), "Daybreak" (6:33), "Tears" (6:50), "Love Spreads" (5:46), and "Beautiful Thing" (7:02). Emphasis on the "epic" part.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Ian is melancholic, John is choleric, Mani is Sanguine, Reni is Phlegmatic.
- Genre Shift: Second Coming, a Hard Rock/Blues Rock album with techno bits.
- Gold Fever: "Fool's Gold" is loosely based on this trope. Ian himself admitted it was inspired by The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
- Hidden Track: "The Foz" is hidden after 12 (or more, depending upon the release) short silent tracks on Second Coming. Presumably just to mess with the listener, there are eight more tracks of silence after that too, with nothing else hidden after them this time.
- Lead Drummer, Lead Bassist: To some extent, Mani and Reni are Type A and Type D. They don't necessarily overshadow Squire, but they do somewhat overshadow Brown; they are both exceptionally skilled musicians, and their instruments are foundational to the Roses' music, given their emphasis on rhythm. Reni's instrumental prowess is particularly acclaimed; Pete Townshend once called him "the most natural drummer I've seen since Keith Moon".
- Limited Lyrics Song: Several of their songs qualify, but "I Wanna Be Adored" is the most extreme, since it basically consists of variations of four lines: "I don't have to sell my soul/He's already in me", "I wanna be adored", and "You adore me". Sometimes Brown sings "I don't need to sell my soul" or "I gotta be adored" instead, but these are minor variations.
- Longest Song Goes Last: "I Am the Resurrection" (8:15) was the last song on the self-titled album. In the U.S., the album was reissued in 1990 with "Fool's Gold" added to the end after that song became a moderate hit, but the trope still applied, since "Fool's Gold" runs for 9:55. Second Coming, for its part, inverts the trope, with "Breaking into Heaven" (11:21) as the first song on the album.
- Long Runner Lineup: Type 5: The band's best-known lineup of Brown, Squire, Mani, and Remi existed from 1987 to 1995, and has been together ever since the band's reformation in 2011.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Often.
- "Bye Bye Badman" is an upbeat pop-rock song about the May 1968 student riots in Paris.
- "Made of Stone" is another anthemic, catchy tune whose lyrics reference the 1968 riots again, especially using imagery of burning cars.
- "Shoot You Down" is laid-back funk-rock song about shooting someone down, also mentioning about how said victim always had it coming.
- "Elizabeth My Dear" is a Simon & Garfunkel-style ballad (with the melody even borrowed from the old English folk tune "Scarborough Fair", which is most famous from Simon & Garfunkel's recording) about wanting to dethrone the Queen.
- Mood Whiplash: "One Love"'s verses are, in rough order: Intercourse with You-implying boasting, LSD-implying Word Salad Lyrics, optimistic chorus, repeat.
- Nice Hat / Iconic Item: Reni frequently wore bucket hats while with the band, to the point that they're now nicknamed "Reni hats".
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Psychedelic Funk Rock. They also incorporated dance music, acid house, alternative rock, several different strains of pop, hard rock, and more into their style, making them somewhat difficult to classify. Many critics just settle on "Madchester" or "Britpop", though they have actually denied being part of the former movement.
- New Sound Album: Second Coming eschewed their first album's acid house funk rock in favour of a shady, heavy blues rock sound.
- Not Christian Rock: A good question, since Brown and Squire tend to use religious imagery a lot. This fan site manages to make a pretty good argument that most of their songs contain at least a few references, intentional or not, to the Bible or Christianity in general.
- "I Am the Resurrection" is pretty overt when it comes to religious overtones, though the references vary in their obviousness. "I am the Resurrection and I am the Life" is a direct quote from Jesus - obvious enough. "Your tongue is far too long" is not obvious, however; a long tongue was a signifier of dishonesty in scripture.
- "Breaking Into Heaven" criticises the concept of Heaven and states that waiting to die is unnecessary since "the Kingdom's all inside".
- "I Wanna Be Adored" is more ambiguous, but the lines "I don't need to sell my soul/He's already in me" can easily be interpreted as referring to the Devil. There are many stories in folklore about people selling their soul to become talented; a possible interpretation is that the narrator doesn't need to sell his soul for talent because he's already talented, making this double as a Badass Boast. (However, the narrator's need for adoration can also be interpreted as a flaw - more specifically, pride, one of the Seven Deadly Sins.)
- And perhaps the most famous, "Love Spreads" reimagines Jesus Christ as the narrator's black sister.
- Oop North: They're from Manchester, and Brown has a pretty thick accent at times.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: John, Mani and Reni are well-respected for their instrumental prowess (Reni at one point was called "the best drummer in indie"). Ian... is the singer. In some interpretations Ian gets cast as The Load because of his average vocals and infamous trouble with staying in tune while singing anywhere that isn't a recording studio (one reviewer said that in concert he sounded like a man who sang into a bucket).
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: They spent a lot of time apparently watching football instead of working on their second album, which is why there was a five-year gap between their debut and Second Coming, not counting the part where they had to waste two years in court to get out of their contract with Silvertone.
- The Quiet One: John Squire would give complete silence during band interviews.
- Record Producer: John Leckie is often credited as helping the Roses become awesome, which is quite justified when one hears the demos of the songs from their first album.
- Screw Destiny: "Breaking into Heaven".
- Single Stanza Song: "Elizabeth My Dear". Thirty words, less than a minute long, and extremely creepy.
- Stop and Go: "I Am the Resurrection". During the aforementioned epic 5-minute funky improv, at one point the band stop playing. There's a few seconds of silence before they start again as if nothing had happened.
- Subdued Section: Quite a few (example: "Standing Here").
- Title-Only Chorus: "I Wanna Be Adored" and "This Is the One" are almost this trope.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: The back cover of Turns into Stone doesn't have apostrophes. This has served to confuse some fans into thinking the songs are actually called "Fools Gold" and "Somethings Burning".
- When She Smiles: "Standing Here"'s chorus.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Pretty frequent actually.