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Album Review

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.


Formed: 1985 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '10s

Meshing '60s-styled guitar pop with an understated '80s dance beat, the Stone Roses defined the British guitar pop scene of the late '80s and early '90s. After their eponymous 1989 debut album became an English sensation, countless other groups in the same vein became popular, including the Charlatans UK, Inspiral Carpets, and Happy Mondays. However, the Stone Roses were never able to capitalize on the promise of their first album, waiting five years before they released their second record and slowly...
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