AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #83 : STONE ROSES

A GUEST POSTING FROM S-WC

 

slider-roses

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.

SIDE 1

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…)

S-WC

FROM THE HUNGARIAN CORRESPONDENT – A TALE FROM EASTERN EUROPE

travis-band-2013

Greetings to everyone, my name is Laslo Friop and I live in Budapest in the suburb of Erzsebetarvos and I would like to thank Mr JC for allowing me to compile todays piece for the Vinyl Villain.

I met JC on a trip to Glasgow a few years ago and he taught me all about its quality food and music. I have tried with limited success to get fish battered and chocolate that has been fried in Hungary it does not happen. Also the radio stations refuse to play Arab Strap or Mowgai, I did manage to get some Orange Juice though but it did not go down that well, it was too commercial and there was no gypsy punks. After just one hour with the JC I can now say that Glasgow is my sixth favourite city in Scotland after Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Cardiff, Dumbarton, and Stranraer. Since that afternoon at the train station I have followed this blog space with passion. I love to read about early 80s bands that for years were banned from Hungary for not being communist enough. Particularly Billy Bragg and The Redskins. They would have been very happy behind the Iron Curtain.

Anyway today I would like to talk you about revolution and the inspiration of a generation through music, in fact the inspiring of a generation by one band. For years in Hungary, music was terrible, under the Russians it was largely frowned upon to listen to anything Western, I think that the Beatles were not encouraged, and anyone caught listening to progressive rock from the 1970s usually disappeared to the Saltmines of Debrecen. They did this so that you could not grow your hair and say ‘Woah Man’ a lot.

Then as the West became more acceptable the Iron Grip loosened and the free republic commenced. It wasn’t all good but in one strange day back 1999 one band changed our lives for ever. It is a well known fact that David Hasslehoff singlehandedly brought the Berlin Wall to it knees.

 

Yet in Hungary on that day in 1999, a lesser known musical phenomenon occurred.

In September in what is now known as ‘Victory Square’ in Budapest the crowds had started to form to chant anti-government slogans and chants, the police had been heavy handed and we screamed at them ‘Ez mind össze képtelenség’ which roughly translated into Hungarian means ‘We will be free, we will win’. At that point the skies opened and the clouds burst and it rained. Those of you who have been to Budapest will know that this happens a lot, but at that moment we felt defeated, ruined by unemployment and now the weather. All we wanted was to have the same choices as our neighbours in Austria had, and not go the same way as other neighbours Romania had gone.

Now Western Radio and music has started to become relatively popular in Hungary around this time. We were massive fans of the reggae star Pato Banton and for many the arrival of Eminem was a crucial point in our history. Or ‘Nem ez nem volt’ as we like say when we discuss Eminem. So it was not unusual to hear Western songs on the radio or being churned out from the many cafes and shops. Now as the rain pelted down on our tear stained cheeks, one song, ‘Why Does It Always Rain on Me’ by the Scottish Band Travis came on. On hearing this Hungarians found solidarity and together we rose and defied the weather, we defied the police and we defied the government. After that day, Travis became the Number One band in all of Hungary, they were so popular they even had a brand of goulash named after them, people would go into restaurants and say ‘ez a teljes lószart’ and the workers would know that you were one of them. Their songs became synonymous with the protest movement in Hungary, ‘All I want to do is rock’ became the theme to our campaign to become more western, ‘Tied to the 90s’ became an ironic song about not returning to the days of communism with its cheeky ‘Remember the 80s…’ lyric and ‘Turn’ and ‘Sing’ remain anthems for the working parties in Hungary even today.

Travis are heroes in Hungary, their concerts here are sold out mega gigs and their singer Fran Healy has recently been awarded the highest ever accolade possible for a Non Hungarian the prestigious ‘Hatalmas Hazugság’. Very few people have been awarded this in Hungary.

I hope you enjoyed reading this piece, I hope my English has not been too crazy, I used Google Translate and hope that if you translate the Hungarian bits back to English you will get some idea what this band means to us. I would post their tracks but I think you will already own most of them. So instead I post tracks by two of my favourite bands, the Jesus and Mary Chain and The Stone Roses. Bands that I was lucky enough to see live in Austria at festivals. They have never played Hungary to the best of my knowledge.

mp3 : The Jesus and Mary Chain – April Skies
mp3 : The Stone Roses – Fools Gold

I bid you farewell I will leave you with a good luck phrase in Hungarian

‘Mindez igaz, hogy minden szemetet. Kérlek, bocsáss meg, a normál szolgáltatás folytatódik a jövő héten’

Laslo