My First Time: The Stone Roses S/T Album

Friends, please read this imagining me speaking to you in a frazzled and agitated manner.

Holy shit. I’m sitting here going through the songs on The Stone Roses’ self-titled debut album for around the 12th time trying to decide which 3-4 songs I like the best to write about and I can’t even fricking do it. This album is THAT incredible from top to bottom, and I seriously think it might instantly be one of my top 20 albums ever. How an album this ridiculously good existed without me knowing it is disturbing and has me questioning all of my life choices leading up to now. I’ve clearly gone wrong somewhere along the line, and TBH you are bad friends for not telling me.

I knew of The Stone Roses because they got some radio play here in the States with “Love Spreads” in the mid-90s. We listened to that song quite a bit in college around the turn of the millennium. But with that as my only exposure to the band, I sort of thought Stone Roses was a little more on the harder-core side of Brit-Pop, and for whatever reason I never explored their catalog. This album destroyed that notion. It is simply delightful in every respect.

It also has me wondering if I need to explore more British stuff from the late 80s, because over here across the pond we were immersed in hair metal, Paula Abdul, New Kids on the Block, Richard Marx, Cher in those creepy fishnets, and Bon Jovi (at the peak of their awfulness). No offense to those people I am offending, but it’s no wonder that in 1989 we weren’t able to appreciate an album that beautifully fuses that British 60’s sound with 80’s/90’s alt-pop.

Anyway, I’m just going to randomly pick a few songs because I don’t know how else to choose. “She Bangs the Drum” is nicely melodic and awesome. It starts with some quick hi-hat and bass, giving the illusion that some hard rock may be coming, and then, it drops that pleasantly reverby chord on your head. I also enjoy the lyrics, which seem to be about a dude who feels like he’s gonna take on the world and he’s got a woman who helps build him up and give him confidence. She bangs the drum for what he’s planning. 

In “Waterfall”, I love how the guitar and bass work together. It’s just so goddamn pleasant. (I realize I’ve used the word “pleasant” in consecutive paragraphs… but that’s really what this album is all the way through. It’s pleasant as fuck. It’s pleasant on overload. Extreme pleasantry, perhaps.) The image of a person who keeps going despite life throwing a massive amount of shit at them as a waterfall is a nice little metaphor too.

I have to pick one more. I could have easily chosen “Don’t Stop”, “Bye Bye Bad Man”, or “(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister”. They are all amazing. But I’m going with “Made of Stone” largely because that hook just sinks so damn hard after the ominous tones of the verses. I also happen to be reading a book about the IRA in the 80s, and the images of flames, burning cars, twisted grills, etc. make me think maybe this song was inspired by some of the crazy shit going on in England and Ireland around that time with bombings, assassinations, hunger strikes and all that. Everything about the song just works together exceptionally well.

I really could do this all day, but I need to stop here for brevity’s sake. Just do me a favor; if anyone is out there reading this and you’ve never listened to this album, you should immediately stop what you’re doing and give it a spin… That is, UNLESS you fall into one of the following categories: 1. You hate things that are pleasant. 2. You love Bon Jovi’s New Jersey album. 3. You believe the Earth is shaped like a cucumber. (Side note - if you believe Stevie Wonder can see, you’re still okay.) That’s it.

Alright friends, until next time, keep it pleasant as fuck.

PS - It’s only fair to disclose that I own (not just one, but) two Richard Marx albums on vinyl. Nobody’s perfect, you guys.

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