The Stone Roses: Ian Brown (vocals); John Squire (guitar); Gary Mounfield (bass); Reni (drums, background vocals).
Producers: John Leckie, Peter Hook, Paul Schroeder, Garage Flowers.
Recording information: 06/1988-02/1989.
Routinely named as the greatest British album of the past 20 years in British music mag polls, sometimes rivaling such sacred cows as REVOLVER whenever those publications decide to do a Greatest Albums Ever list, THE STONE ROSES remains one of those classic albums that somehow defies translation across the pond. To be sure, it's not that the British overrate the Stone Roses. Rather, it's that the U.S., apart from some anglophiles and Gen-Xers, missed the golden moment when the Stone Roses were the best band in the world, capturing a crystalline moment where nostalgia for the Summer of Love refracted through the prism of burgeoning acid house. Unlike the Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses weren't really immersed in the pulsating E-underworld of raves, but their music was certainly informed by this new thumping psychedelia as much as it was by the '60s jangle, which is why THE STONE ROSES can feel somewhat out of time even as it thoroughly, undeniably is about its moment.
That timelessness is one of the chief reasons THE STONE ROSES endures as a modern classic and why it's been given this spectacular 20th Anniversary reissue. There are multiple editions, all of interest: a basic remastered single-disc, an extensive two-disc/one-DVD set that pairs the original album with a "Lost Demos" CD and video of a live show from Blackpool Empress Ballroom, then finally, a gargantuan set that has all this, plus another disc that rounds up the non-LP singles and B-sides as well as more extensive liner notes, art prints, and a USB disc with unreleased backwards tracks, music videos, and other collector's treats. All this is a fanatics treasure, and there is quite a bit of musical worth here too, especially on the B-sides, which may have already been reissued on Made of Stone but is nice to have paired here. Still, the main revelation of the "Lost Demos" is how perfect John Leckie's production of The Stone Roses is. On these demos, the songs are firmly intact but the colors are muted, and Ian Brown's notoriously wobbly vocals are quite shaky; they are clearly a blueprint, not a final product. Listening to the full album after the demos, THE STONE ROSES seems even more wondrous: Leckie coaxed the right performances out of all four members, letting Mani and Reni lock into a muscular, fluid groove, encouraging John Squire to paint as vividly with his guitar as he did in his artwork, finding a way for Ian Brown to seem swaggering and spectral simultaneously, a resurrection whose adoration was an inevitability. For longtime fans, this is reason enough to dig into this deluxe anniversary edition, and for those who have never known, there's no better place to get enchanted
Rolling Stone (p.84) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The debut album by the Stone Roses remains a blast of magnificent arrogance, a fusion of Sixties-pop sparkle and the blown-mind drive of U.K. rave culture."
Spin (p.98) - "[T]his was '60s psychedelia shot through with tight, muscular tunes."
Spin (p.86) - "Combining bowl cuts and dance beats, these neo-psych Mancunians dropped one of rock's greatest debuts in '89..."
Q (6/00, p.74) - Ranked #29 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums"
Q (10/01, p.100) - Ranked #7 in Q's "Best 50 Albums of Q's Lifetime"
Q (12/99, p.164) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...pure pop alchemy....[it] still fascinates....it remains clear that here was a band - and an album - in a million."
Alternative Press (7/95, p.89) - Ranked #49 in AP's list of the 'Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...The album that sent devotees of the baggy trouser (not to mention a number of others) into delirium. For once, all the hype was right; this is a record that lasts..."
Q (Magazine) (p.116) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's a tremendous debut....It's unlikely to replicate the mercurial flash of time and place that still glitters from this record."
Mojo (Publisher) (12/99, p.103) - "...Set the tone for rock music in the '90s; nostalgic and unable or unwilling to communicate any message except feed your head, question nothing, look elegantly vacant....this really is a record you need to own..."
NME (Magazine) (9/25/93, p.18) - Ranked #1 among the 50 Greatest Albums Of The '80s - "...a shining embodiment of everything rock music should be: arrogant, elegantly crafted and imbued with a rare ability to make its listener feel mighty..."
NME (Magazine) (10/2/93, p.29) - Ranked #5 in NME's list of the 'Greatest Albums Of All Time.'