18 October 2011

Stone Roses - Begging You

Well with their Third Coming officially announced, I had "Only Stone Roses" on my playlist on the way back from a "Touchy Feeley" day finding out what colour energy I radiate at work.  Blueish green, if you are interested.

Thankfully this track came up - statistically, it was probably the second most likely track to show, after Fools Gold, seeing as this single had 6 different mixes on it....

So, strippers, a miming band and various stock footage of tribal dances.... Who said that rock excesses can wipe out artistic en-devours?  Well, me.

What one thing seems stranger than the rest in the video though?
German Folk dancing? Nope
Strippers with cut out face masks of the band? Nope
Band even more dour than usual? Nope

Who is the drummer? Is it Reni?  Is it heck. I see no hat!
For the third and final single from their second album, erm, Second Coming, Reni had left. A few months later, the main songwriter, guitarist John Squire also packed his bags. The 1996 Reading Festival gig was poor at best - off key vocals and a shocked audience...
Poor quality all round.  And the last gig they played. It had all got too much.

How did it get this way?  Either you know, or can read Wikipedia...

In short - Manchester fellows form band, change the line up a few times and hit it on the nose with Ian Brown, John Squire, Reni and Mani. Release a few singles through small indie labels (and Rough Trade) then sign with a larger label. Release a hit, groundbreaking album. Act like arses on TV, get bigger, then try to leave their label.  Goes through the courts for years, preventing them recording a second album.  Sort out the legalities, spend 3 years making follow up.  It gets released, is at the same time slated and lauded in the press.  Have personal problems, split up.
Phew...

My history - I bought their first album on cassette (it was the future then kids, honest) and played the living hell out of Fools Gold when it was released - I can't even tell you how many releases of that I own.  I know I have a CD single of it, with 8 dreadful remixes of it. And then what did we all do? Wait, wait, wait for more from them.  Even when they weren't doing anything they were in the music press. I remember Second Coming being released and being truly excited. I didn't have enough money to buy it, but luckily my housemate The Shapesmith did.  We listened to it, avidly - I particularly enjoyed the long warbling, backwards sample-heavy introduction to the whole album.

Forgive the computer game animations and plinks and plonks - no real need for that, is there? - but the music....
I was getting into Fripp/Eno and the Orb around the end of 94, so I could hear exactly where this was coming from.  But after over 5 years of waiting for new material, this introduction seemed to embody exactly what we as listeners had been suffering - mere echoes and samples of the Stone Roses for an age when all we wanted was new tunes!   Aaagh. Please start playing for real....

However, nearly a year later in November 95 the final single was released. Begging you.
Backwards guitars throughout, pounding drums and Mani's superb bass lines weaving a driving tapestry around Ian Browns mystical, apolcalyptic vocals.  I remember buying the CD single and playing it non-stop - all 6 remixes, until the very same Shapesmith couldn't take it anymore and burst in asking me to either change it or turn it off. Quite right too....

Was the album any good? Yes - crikey yes! As good as the first one, but different - that long a break when you are as creative as that affects you.  It was embracing the changing scene - Blur and Oasis were around and hip, Nirvana was imploding and exploding at the same time and dance music had taken hold and split into various genres. More production, samples and certainly a "heavier" sounding slab of vinyl.

What will 15 years have done to the band? God only knows.  I just hope that musically they have aged well.  It will be a lot different, but what the fruits of their labour will be, we can only wait and find out.

This song, really is one of their classics, with funky upbeat vibes, twisted rock guitars and dynamics that other bands could only wish for.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aside:
I've just realised something really odd.  At this time I was seeing a Mancunian lady who I nick-named Mani - it was short for her name, but would a Freudian say it was a subliminal replacement for a man-crush on the Stone Roses bass player? Eurgh... God, I hope not. The Stone Roses lasted a lot longer than we did....

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