So I was reading Swiss Adam’s excellent blog the other day where he mentioned that he was going to see The Stone Roses live. This got me thinking. What would an Imaginary Compilation Album for them actually look like??

I mean you could take ten tracks from their debut album and that would pretty much be perfect – but you can’t do that. Plus you wouldn’t get ‘Fool’s Gold’ or any of the wonderful B Sides that hid away on their early singles. Seriously some of those B Sides are better tracks than most bands write in their entire careers (I’m talking to you Shed 7). So I made a playlist on my Ipod of all their records and during a long train ride yesterday, I set about producing an ICA. Its taken from a collection of 42 songs, none of which are the new releases. I’ll leave it you to as to whether or not that is the right thing to do or not. Its sort of in chronological order as well, not intentionally – its just the way I ordered it.


1) All Across the Sands (B Side – Sally Cinnamon)

So this is one of those B Sides that I mentioned just now. Great bands have to have great B Sides – and remember ‘Fools Gold’ was originally a B side (sort of) which means that they kind of have one of the best B sides ever. ‘All Across the Sands’ is a track just as beautiful as the track it backed. It has a kind of Beach Boys vocals going and the lyrics of this are just heartbreaking. It kind of reminds me of ‘Made of Stone’ or perhaps that should be the other way around – and to top of all of that – you get John Squire’s emotive solo as well

2. Made of Stone (Single)

As I mentioned it. ‘Made of Stone’ is according to Ian Brown, one of the best three Stone Roses songs. When I play this I immediately think of that night on the Late Show in 1989 when the power went down and Brown berated the BBC for being ‘amateurs – wasting our time’. Musically and lyrically this is pretty simple. The lyrics evoke fiery death on the road and I think capture what it felt like to be broke, young but free…”Sometimes I fantasise/When the streets and cold and lonely/And the cars they burn below me”….Its just perfect.

3. She Bangs the Drums (Single)

Perhaps this is the definitive Stone Roses song – its definitely a contender. I love all of this song, the way the hi-hat tingles, the way the bass builds, the way the guitar soars and then that lovesick opening line “I can feel the Earth begin to move/I hear my needle hit the groove”. Basically you get thirty years of guitar pop stripped down to this song. Ultimately this is why I fell for the Stone Roses, the belief and hope of turning from a teenager into a young adult is recorded right here in front of you. “The past was yours but the future’s mine” . Absolutely. And to make it even better they put the next song on the B Side….

4. Standing Here (B Side to She Bangs the Drums)

This is pretty much two songs in one – the first is the noisy guitar sound looping around Brown singing “I really don’t think you could know that I’m in heaven when you smile”. That in itself is enough – this was a song that featured on a tape that Our Price Girl made for me when we were massively into each other – she wrote that lyric around the edge of the tape in flowery italics. She was young, don’t judge her. Then in the last, what, two minutes of this you get Ian Brown suddenly turning into Art Garfunkel repeating the mantra “I could park a juggernault in your mouth/And I can feel a hurricane when you shout..” This made you remember that behind all the macho posing the Roses did, actually there was a lot of admiration and sweetness there.

5. This Is the One (From ‘The Stone Roses’)

As I said you could pick 10 of the first album and you would have a Best of’ album but I wanted to make this album include tracks that don’t normally feature on the best ofs. So I’ve omitted ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ for that reason. It was impossible to leave out this sparkling little gem. It’s a song that reminds me of Bank Holidays. It’s also the song where Brown sounds the most menacing the bit where he talks about ‘burning the town where I was born’ is brilliant.

Side 2

1. Fool’s Gold

Released six months after the debut album and not included on it, Fool’s Gold was the Roses’ first UK Top 10 single and was, arguably, the song that made their reputation. Who remembers that episode of Top of The Pops where the Happy Mondays were on as well? Essential. I can’t really say anymore. Apart from this has to be the full version. Embrace all nine minutes of it.

2. Love Spreads (12” Single)

In 1994 I was a trainee journalist, lazily editing a student newspaper in Surrey. One morning I walked into the office and this 12” was sitting on the desk. I ran home to play it. Given that I was wearing Doc Marten Boots and smoked 20 Marlboro a day at the time, this was a big achievement. I put the needle down and took a massive intake of breath….

Twenty seconds later I started it again, after checking the label to see if I hadn’t actually put on something by Led Zeppelin by mistake. Then after playing all the way through, three times. I smiled. The Roses were back. Oh and watch the video. Pause it at 3.40…That’s Beck there with the beard. Straight up.

3. Something’s Burning (B Side to One Love)

Another B Side but this is is actually better than the A side. Its dark, soulful and almost jazz like. It has a minute long spaced out into and the Browns vocals just kind of slide in at their sneering best.

It’s a classic low key Roses moment, the bass bobs and weaves and the drums shuffle away beautifully. At this point the band were in the creative best stretching that dance rock sound they’d made their own. A very cool record and massively understated.

4. Begging You (12” Single)

More than 20 years after its release ‘Begging You’ sounds fresher than most of the other Roses tracks released at this time. It’s a record I didn’t like when I first heard it. But listening to it again just yesterday – I realise that I missed the point. This kind of sounds like a drum and bass record – and it sounds like The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Both of which are good things.

5. I Am the Resurrection

The best end of an album ever recorded. John Squire once said in an interview that the only thing that he did to excess was guitar solos. He was joking I think. I’ll tell you the truth, every time I hear the end of this record (which lets be honest takes up over half of the songs eight minutes) it fills me with joy. I play it and then I want to run around the living room like a child whose eaten too much sugar. I was caught in a rain shower (read deluge) the other day and this came on the iPod and I just grinned and knew that I wouldn’t be going inside for eight minutes at least because I wanted to run and jump in puddles.

So there you go. I missed out Elephant Stone as well. Can we have that as an bonus track (Track 90 on the CD perhaps…)



  1. A brave move this, but any Stone Roses ‘Best Of’ would have to include most or the debut album. You’re right – they did do some cracking b-sides; ‘Standing Here’ is the pick of the bunch IMO. Completely with you on ‘Begging You’, the best track from ‘The Second Coming’ (closely followed by ‘Ten-Storey Love Song’).

    I would have to put ‘Shoot You Down’, ‘This Is The One’ and ‘Resurrection’ together at the end. A triumverate of perfection (though as a curveball, I’d probably use the Soul Hooligan remix of ‘Shoot You Down’).

    And finally to put your mind at rest – you’re right to omit both of the new singles. Neither are worthy of inclusion on any compilation alongside these songs.

  2. Difficult to argue with any of this- but also very difficult for me to have an ICA for The Roses which didn’t include Waterfall, Elephant Stone and Don’t Stop. I’d trim the Second Coming down to one song and that might be Breaking Into Heaven not that there’s anything wrong with the 2 you’ve chosen. Standing Here is immense- but so in different ways are the other peak Roses b-sides- Going Down, Mersey Paradise and Where Angels Play. And I might go for One Love over Something’s Burning. Anyway, nice work. It just proves they’ve got a small but very high quality back catalogue.

  3. I wouldn’t even go with the b-sides… the first album is near perfection even if it is cheating as an ICA… it’s a shame that all the delicacy and artistry has gone from them and they are now just a substitute oasis for lads to bellow along to…

  4. There were a great b-sides band, Going down also a gem, and What the world is waiting for (or was that double a)

    I’ve been listening to It’s a beautiful thing now for weeks, and I know many won’t agree but it’s up there with the best. It came out the day I went on holiday and I listened to it 2 or 3 times a day, it goes down a dream when walking along the beach

  5. Jim’s right about artistry and delicacy- the sweetly psychedelic stuff from 88-89 is the real deal. And thy were a girls band too not a lad’s band.

  6. Can’t argue with any of your choice’s but then the forty odd Stone Roses tracks are nearly all Top Ten stuff . But ……………’Don’t Stop ‘ won me over to this group , and if your gonna mention B Sides ? Where Angels Play ? ………a demo I believe !

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