When Noel Gallagher proclaimed Stone Roses’ eponymous debut
a “perfect album,” those less knowing might have been taken aback, and
rightfully so given the Gallagher boys’ penchant for aggrandizing and
overstating a case. But when no less a publication as NME, one of Britain’s most esteemed music journals, labeled it “the
greatest album of all time,” suffice it to say, that would seem to warrant a
revisit. In fact, The Stone Roses was trumpeted far more in the U.K. than it ever was
in the States, achieving something of a regal status there and little more than
a cultish curiosity over here. Still,
with the usual wealth of extras bestowed on this expanded reissue, Legacy’s
apparently elevated it to the status of a hallowed effort worthy of renewed
acclaim, insinuating its stature is akin to that of Who’s Next, Born To Run, Band on the Run and the other immortal
albums that have received a similar treatment.
How many of the uninitiated will agree with this assessment
remains to be seen, but given ample opportunity to explore the band’s early
canon via these four discs – the original album, a compilation of non-LP singles,
a collection of lost demos and, in the case of the deluxe edition, a DVD of
concert footage and music videos – its not altogether implausible. That said, only the truest devotee will be
swayed to any extent, and those are the fans that will cash out for this
collection anyway. The Stone Roses
always took a middle ground between the elusive and engaging, but even those
songs that came closest to rousing the masses- “I Wanna Be Adored,” She Bangs
the Drums,” “Elephant Stone” and the like – never bared their hooks entirely,
stymied by producer John Leckie’s hazy arrangements, the ethereal ambiance and
a general sameness and uniformity that pervades the music as a whole. The material is satisfying only to the extent
that it suggests something greater lurking below the surface, as if a more
compelling chorus or catchier refrain were all that would have been needed to
lift the songs into more robust realms.
Sadly, even the demos don’t illuminate the melodies to any great extent,
the propulsive tempos, hushed harmonies and sense of urgency notwithstanding.
The passage of two decades can easily distort an honest
assessment. However, In this case, Stone
Roses’ appeal still remains as ill defined as ever.
Standout Tracks: “I Wanna Be Adored,” She Bangs the Drums,” “Elephant Stone” LEE ZIMMERMAN