Cheerful and hypnotic melodies from The Stone Roses’ debut album shone like a ray of sunshine over the once gloomy and industrial city of Manchester, now turned into a background for a never ending, optimism fueled Second summer of love. However, their divine debut album was followed by five years of silence; the music scene was Waiting for Godot.
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Music scene waited five and a half years for these cheeky, arrogant and above all whimsical blokes to descend on the ground and confirm whether their debut album was just a coincidence or merely a beginning of their divine mission. During that lengthily period of waiting, The Stone Roses weren’t forgotten, quite the contrary, the expectation of their second album turned into a ‘Waiting for Godot‘ situation.
After the glorious 1989, The Stone Roses performed a ‘Pollock experiment‘ as we could call their rebellious demonstration against FM Revolver’s boss Paul Birch and his re-issuing of the band’s early single ‘Sally Cinnamon‘. The band members threw cans of blue and white colour on Birch and his office, leaving the paint to spread freely and drip on the floor, in a full Pollock manner. Their art experimentation ended on court, which is exactly what these Mancunian blokes expected for they knew that while you’re vinycally inactive, you need to raise dust in media any way you can.
Soon after the court case, The Stone Roses separated themselves from Manchester’s club culture and spent time traveling Europe until settling at Rockfield Studios in Wales where they started working on the music material the world was waiting for, modesty was as always, the band’s main characteristic. Love Spreads, the first single from their long awaited album ‘Second Coming‘ reached number two hit in the UK, indicating that The Stone Roses might shine again. The song also foreshadowed the albums more blues influenced melodies, rather than the cheerful psychedelic sounds the audience was used to listening to their debut album.
Musically, Second Coming is continuing the tradition of Fools Gold and I Am the Resurrection in a way that it explores and sums up all important events of rock ‘n’ roll; from blues and soul to acid house. While the debut album is mainly Ian Brown and John Squire’s work, in Second Coming Squire’s guitar solos and hypnotic reverberating sounds are dominant. Heavy ’60s Psychedelic vibe is evident as well. Songs Driving South evokes Jimmy Hendrix’s manic guitar style, while ‘Ten Story Love Song‘ features a sense of The Byrds again.
Love themed Your Star Will Shine evokes the spirit of Sgt. Pepper (‘Your star will shine again one day/Through deep blue velvet skies/Shine for all the world to see/The universe in your eyes’), while Begging You offers a transcendental, hypnotic and ecstatic experience to the listener. The next song, Tightrope, leads us back to the ‘Kingdom of LSD‘; San Francisco in 1967/68.
Good Times, one of my favourites, exudes an atmosphere of The Doors, starting with Ian’s Morrison like way of singing, to the rapturous love-hedonistic refrain; ‘All I want is those, good times, baby, show me a sign/I need to know that your love is mine/Love me up yeah, yeah, reel me in, I’m hooked, line and sinker/She’s my heroin’. The solo is absolutely hypnotic and magical, like a darker version of The Stone Roses, Ian’s voice longingly singing about good times, perhaps indicating that The Stone Roses were aware that the glory and magic of their debut album is invincible, and that the hedonistic, optimism fueled days of Madchester are counted. The penultimate song How Do You Sleep explores nightmares along with typically British fluttering guitar overtones.
Although Second Coming is a good album, it could have been at least a shade better, not because the songs are bad but because The Stone Roses has that powerful magical and hypnotic quality that’s impossible to surpass. The Stone Roses never recaptured their early magic.