Tagged: Stone Roses

Bombay Bicycle Club’s Rinse Me Down Channels The Stone Roses

Having written a post yesterday about the trouble with trying to keep so many blogs up to date, I thought I really ought to write one on my own, love starved blog, especially as it will be the first one since leaving London for Dublin.

Since arriving here one of the (few) things I’ve missed has been 6 Music, though of course I can still listen to it at work. Thankfully, one thing Ireland has in abundance is radio stations, and one of my new favourites is Phantom; I’ve been listening to it most mornings, and one song kept sticking in my head. A quick Shazam later and I knew that it was Rinse Me Down by Bombay Bicycle Club, a band I’d heard a lot about but not really heard much from.

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Whilst I love Rinse Me Down I have to say that it’s a song that channels its inspirations so much it’s actually charming: if The Stone Roses classic eponymous début was compressed into 3:10 minutes, it would sound an awful lot like this track. That’s not a bad thing, and probably accounts for how catchy it is, but there’s no denying it.

The rest of the album Flaws, that Rinse Me Down is taken from, also wears its influences on its oh, so chic sleeve: there’s a drop more Stone Roses, a dash of Travis and even a jollop of Mumford & Sons, though that last comparison is almost certainly unfair as I’m guessing that Flaws predates Mumford. But if you like all, or even any, of these bands, then Rinse Me Down & Flaws by Bombay Bicycle Club are both lovely ways of keeping the winter cold at bay.

Bicycle by Hizir on flickr

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What’s The Best Song Of The Decade?

It’s almost as if everyone is determined to make me feel old.

As if to highlight the fact that in less than 4 months time it will be 10 years since I saw in the year 2000 dancing on Bondi Beach, Absolute Radio are asking their listeners to help choose the Song of the Decade. What scares me almost as much as the fact that it’s now pretty much a decade since the Millennium Bug failed to bite (due to the hard work of a lot of people according to my old colleague Richard) is that I’m really struggling to think of any truly great tunes that will come to sum up the noughties as other songs have for decades past.

The Arctics’ ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’? Good, but I’m not sure it’s really great. ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow? I actually think this might win, but again don’t think it should. To paraphrase John Lennon, it’s not even the best song on that album. Maybe Eamon’s ‘Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)’ or Frankee’s equally charming ‘Fuck You Right Back’. No, maybe not.

It’s strange, and slightly damning, as for the last 4 decades I can easily name the best song. Sometimes I struggle to name just one. So whilst I list off the defining tracks of the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s (and for me a Song of the Decade has to really define that moment in time, as well as just being the best song released during that period), why don’t you use the comments to suggest what the best song since 2000 might be.

60s:

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone: This is, for me, the finest song of a very strong decade by a country mile. It seems to encapsulate all the different cultural strands that converged between the deaths of JFK and his brother Bobby, which are probably the ‘true 60s’: the optimism, cynicism, hope & despair that all came together in a psychedelic sexual explosion. And the infamous ‘Judas’ version from the Manchester Free Trade Hall is probably the greatest live track ever recorded.

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The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows: With the release of a new video game and some remastered albums, it really seems pointless to try and write anything new about The Beatles at the moment. But what I will say is listen to this track that they made after abandoning touring for the studio, then listen to ‘Setting Sun’ by The Chemical Brothers and try to tell me that The Beatles didn’t create techno in 1966 at the same time as writing a soundtrack for the original Summer of Love.

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70s

The Clash – London Calling: Though released in 1980 in the US, a year after its British release, this was very much a product of the 70s. From its denunciation of the sacred cow that was The Beatles (phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust) to its searing social conscience, this was the last gasp of punk before it was swallowed up by Thatcher & spat out as a tourist attraction to rank alongside the Pearly Kings & Queens.

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Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Whilst never a hit on the scale of the disco records that bestrode the 70s like glitter-laden giants, Scott-Heron’s slice of political beat-poetry would prove to be a defining influence on hip-hop, and as such should have its lyrics carved into Mount Rushmore, right alongside Lincoln’s head.

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David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (1999 Digital Remaster): When he created Ziggy Bowie created the first imaginary global rock-star: The Beatles might have dressed up as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but that’s all they did – dress up. Bowie became Stardust, and in the process dived into a narcotic nightmare. And in creating this persona he also created a template that rappers & rockers would follow for the next 3 decades. The fact that he also became the biggest British act after The Beatles, managed to invent glam-rock & inspired the New Romantics is all grist for the mill.

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80s

Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection: Like ‘London Calling’, ‘I Am The Resurrection’ was released as a decade gasped its dying breath, was very much of its time, yet inspired a generation of bands that came after it. With the blend of Squire’s Hendrix-esque guitar, the hip-hop influenced groove of the rhythm section and Ian’s Mancunian drawl, dripping with arrogance, this track is surely the purest example of a band at their peak, blissfully unaware that they’re about to blow it all.

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Grandmaster Flash – The Message: ‘The Message’, strongly influenced by Scott-Heron, was one of the first great hip-hop tracks and would prove to be one that was hard to top: whilst it wasn’t till the 90s that hip-hop truly ruled the world, this record showed how it might change it. Though the band look like failed auditionees for the Village People, the track, with its minimal, electro-influenced tune, shone a torch on life in America’s ghettoes at the start of the Regan years. And what it showed wasn’t pretty. A million miles from P Diddy & Kanye, but something they should probably listen to a little more often.

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Inner City – Big Fun: Reach for the lasers, I said reach for the ****ing lasers! Somehow, music made by weirdoes in Germany influenced rappers in New York before inspiring producers making music for gay clubs in Chicago from where it touched a generation of young Brits discovering ecstasy in Ibiza. House music was born. And before it spawned bastards like handbag, it was amazing. Probably one of the most influential records of the 20th Century, ‘Big Fun’ is also one of the most, well, fun.

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90s:

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy: Like so many great records, ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ spawned a genre that wasn’t worthy of its name – in this case trip hop. But whilst trip hop was all plodding beats and vague noodlings, Massive Attack created a true soul record: soaring, inspired, epic – ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ still raises the hairs on the back of the neck today, whilst its video is a classic of the genre, shamelessly ripped off by The Verve at the same time as they were ripping off the song.

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Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit: Whilst I’ve come to think that Nirvana are one of the most over-rated bands of the 90s, at the time this sounded like the freshest slice of rock since the Sex Pistols (another over-rated band, more worth talking about than listening to, who have been granted immortality by their singer’s untimely death). By forcing MTV to play indie, or alternative rock as our American cousins would describe it, Nirvana opened the flood-gates for everyone from Green Day to Foo Fighters (yeah, I know) but also, unwittingly, set the scene for Limp Bizkit and a million shite emo bands.

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Dr. Dre – Nothing But A G Thang: Wu Tang Clan’s ’36 Chambers’ may have received more plaudits, whilst Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ may be most commonly suggested as the greatest rap album of the decade, but there’s no doubt that few had as much of an impact as Dre’s ‘Chronic’. Whilst artists & acts from Ice T to Dre’s own NWA could claim to have invented gangsta rap, ‘The Chronic’ was probably the finest example of the genre that has, arguably, shaped hip-hop, and therefore popular music, more than any other over the last 20 years. And in ‘G Thang’ Dre produced probably the best example of the genre; all smooth samples, shocking lyrics and, in Snoop Doggy Dogg (before he ditched the Doggy) the first true rap superstar of the 90s.

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So, the greatest songs of the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s, or at least the ones that, right now, strike me as being the most influential. Let me know yours, as well as your vote for song of the noughties.

2010 by doug88888 on flickr

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The Stone Roses – Waterfall

There’s really not much I can add to this video, if anything. It’s introduced by a cultural genius & saviour of modern Manchester (seriously – if it weren’t for him & the IRA making regeneration a necessity, the place would still be a ghost town) and features the band responsible for the best British début album of all time in their beautiful, arrogant, youthful prime: where the bloody hell did the last 20 years go?

Ladies & gentlemen, I give you The Stone Roses introduced by Tony Wilson.

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Waterfall by wwarby on flickr

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James – Laid

My ongoing nostalgia trip, kicked off by the fact that this May will see the 20th anniversary of the release of The Stone Rose’ début, has taken a slightly random turn recently, into the world of early 90s indie. Whilst much of it cam be traced back, at least in some way, to 1989 and the Roses, much of it (I’m thinking Ned’s Atomic Dustbin here – no, really) can’t. One band however that are definitely of an age with the Roses are James.

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Originally an off-beat art-rock band who came out at the same time as The Smiths (a band they supported on tour in their early days) by the end of the 80s James were able to sell out huge gigs and recorded their breakthrough album Gold Mother, which came out in 1990, just as the Madchester bandwagon was gathering speed. James became known not only for lead singer Tim Booth’s spinning dancing but also for using trumpet in their sound, something none of the over Manchester bands did (just as The Charlatans and the Inspiral Carpets became known for their use of the hammond organ).

But by the time of Seven, the follow-up to Gold Mother, the trumpet, and the man playing it, seemed to be in danger of talking over the band. So Laid, the album that came out in 1993, was a return to basics, and all the better for it. Many of the songs were extremely down-beat and even the most up-tempo tracks, such as title track Laid, were semi-accoustic in nature. But whilst James might have abandoned much of the over-production that had bogged down Seven, they hadn’t ditched their ability to write a cracking pop-song. In fact, in many ways, with the stripped down sound, it was almost like they were going back to the days of Hymn From A Village.

I can never decide which is my favourite track off of Laid: this, the title track; Sometime (Lester Piggot) or Say Something. At this exact moment in time it’s Laid, with its basic, but addictive drum-beat, the guitar line that gets totally under your skin, and Booth’s brilliantly witty & caustic lyrics such as:

This bed is on fire
With passion and love
The neighbours complain about the noises above
But she only comes when she’s on top

and,

Moved out of the house, so you moved next door
I locked you out, you cut a hole in the wall
I found you sleeping next to me, I thought I was alone
You’re driving me crazy, when are you coming home

You really can’t imagine Chris Martin singing anything as amusing as that, though he has pinched Tim Booth’s dance, hook, line & sinker.

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Tim Booth photo by alterna2 on flickr

Hymn From A Village download via backed with

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The Wonder Stuff – Don’t Let Me Down Gently

As you might have guessed by now, I’m on a 1989 nostalgia trip at the moment, sparked by the fact that this year sees the 20th anniversary of the release of The Stone Roses eponymous début. However 1989 wasn’t just a great year for the Roses, a whole host of other bands were also releasing great music. One of these bands, and one that seem to have become genetically unfashionable, are The Wonder Stuff.

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It’s quite likely that many of you will never have heard of the Stourbridge band, but in the early 90s they were one of the biggest in the UK, and one of the most critically acclaimed too. Their blend of folk, rock & indie also managed to incorporate intelligent and witty lyrics, courtesy of their controversial frontman Miles Hunt (a man whose absence from the mainstream for the last decade or so has been the mainstream’s loss). I won’t try to summarise the band’s careers here, suffice to say that their first three albums (8 Legged Groove Machine, Hup & Never Loved Elvis) belong in any collection of great British alternative rock.

Don’t Let Me Down Gently was a single from their second album Hup, which saw them break into the mainstream. It’s obviously influenced by bands such as The Waterboys, but was a clear indicator of the sound that would itself go on to influence any number of early 90s indie bands – most of whom were rubbish, something The Stuffies (as they were annoyingly known) were probably unfairly blamed for.

Anyway, in these days where it seems that almost anything can be the subject of a critical reappraisal, why not take the time to rediscover The Wonder Stuff? 1989 also saw them release Golden Green which really is a beautiful little slice of pop perfection.

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Wonder Stuff badge image by Delmonti on flickr

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themusicbod – Made Of Stone (Stone Roses Cover)

Continuing my wallow in 1989-shaped Stone Roses nostalgia, comes this rather amazing cover of Made Of Stone. It was brought to my attention by Claire and is, in a word, beautiful.

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It’s an instrumental cover of the 4th single by The Stone Roses (and the first one to be taken from the iconic debut album), and is entirely played on the piano by someone who goes by the name themusicbod. This makes what was always one of the band’s more mournful tracks even more eery. It positively oozes regret, a bitter-sweet sense of sadness and an air of mournfulness that perfectly suits the tune. What make the whole thing even more effecting is that this cover version of Made Of Stone is accompanied by video footage of Spike Island, the scene of the Roses’ biggest ever gig.

For those who are too young to remember, Spike Island was meant to be the Roses’ finest moment – a Woodstock for the baggy generation. Instead it was beset by sound problems and considered a bit of a let down by most of the music press. But seeing the place now (it’s a reclaimed toxic waste site – hardly the most romantic venue for a gig), all empty fields and empty vistas, as themusicbod’s haunting version of Made Of Stone plays, it’s hard not to think about what happened to the 27,000 souls who went to see the Roses play on that August day 20 years ago.

As I said in my post on the version of I Am The Resurrection from The Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, The Stone Roses ended up blowing it and this amazing cover makes me wonder about the hopes and dreams of the audience at Spike Island. I wanted to go but having not even turned 15, wasn’t allowed. People who were 20 then would be almost 40 now, whilst any hip-young 30 year olds who made the trek to Spike Island would now be 50: where are they now? Do they still love The Roses as much as they did? I’m guessing they do – The Roses are like a religion.

Anyway, I’m probably getting a bit deep now. I’ll stop and allow you to enjoy the magic that is the original version of Made Of Stone.

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Made Of Stone cover image from MusicStack

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The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection (Live In Blackpool, 1989)

Next month will see the 20th anniversary of the release of the iconic eponymous debut album by The Stone Roses, one of the greatest ever albums and arguably the best ever debut album by a British band (along with offerings from Tricky, Massive Attack & Oasis to name but a few). I was planning to host a night to celebrate the fact (though I should probably be mourning the fact that I first really got into music 2 decades ago) but will now be in Dublin. Because of that I think that I will try to pretty much dedicate the blog to the Roses and other great stuff from, or inspired by 1989 (a great year for music by the way).

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And to kick it all off, what better than this, the version of the Roses’ best song from what many claim was their best ever gig: I Am The Resurrection performed at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. Whilst the recording highlights the fact that Ian Brown always sounds better in studio recordings than he does live, something I can vouch for having seen The Roses twice (though without Reni) and and his solo act once, it also shows exactly why they made a generation think that these were their Beatles.

Whether it’s Brown shouting fortune-cookie style soundbites (Who is & who isn’t? Who is & who isn’t?), Reni’s impossibly funky drumming or John Squire’s Hendrix-esque solo, this was a band at the top of their game. Of course, like all the best bands, eventually The Stone Roses blew it. But maybe if they hadn’t this wouldn’t feel so special now. Whatever, it’s bloody amazing. Enjoy.

Big hat-tip to Paul Delaney for sending me an MP3 of this version of Resurrection.

Stone roses image by GorupKa on flickr

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(Nearly) 20 Years Since The Stone Roses

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I was out with some friends the other night and we were chatting about the passing of time. As we reminisced about this & that something came to me which truly made me feel old. I realised that next year will be the 20th anniversary of Stone Roses eponymous début album.

It only seems like yesterday that I was sitting in my mate’s bedroom, looking out of the window at the glorious summer sun (remember when we used to get that) listening to Ian Brown singing as Mani, Reni & John Squire all made the most beautiful noise I’d ever heard. And here I am nearly 20 years later with The Stone Roses playing on the office stereo and still sounding just as good as it did when I still had things like GCSEs to look forwards to.

Of course 1989 didn’t just see the release of The Stone Roses: it was also the year that De La Soul changed hip hop with 3 Feet High & Rising, Beastie Boys went all alternative with their lost classic Paul’s Boutique, 808 State gave house music a Manchester twang with Ninety whilst the amazing Happy Mondays released Halleljuah. Not a bad year all round then.

Anyway, whilst chatting with my mates we decided that we should do something to mark such an important date in our formative years. So, on March 13th 2009 I plan to organise some sort of a do to mark this amazing album, and all the others than came out in that momentous year (apparently some wall came down as well): if you like the sound of the idea, keep a tab on things here as I’ll have more details nearer the time.

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