Get This!

Addis ababa-ba-ba

That much maligned Stone Roses second album – the grandiosly titled and underrepresentative Second Coming – is a strange beast. Not nearly as terrible as many suggested at the time, it came as a crushing disappointment to those of us who’d been blown away and swept along by the dizzy 60s-inspired sunshine psychedelia of the debut. From it’s lead single in, it was very obvious that this was Stone Roses’ take on Led Zep II. Such was the bombast and bluster and wheezing asthmatic slide guitar pyrotechnics that leapt from the fretboards with Pageian dexterity, they might as well have called that first single Whole Lotta Love Spreads and be done with it. Great tune ‘n all, but we’ve heard it all before, Stone Roses. That was a claim you couldn’t ever throw at the sparkling debut, and that’s why so many of us felt let down. A five year wait for this? C’mon Stone Roses, you’re better than this.

It has its moments. Both Driving South and Begging You are Hendrix filtered through a clattering dance groove, strangulated guitars at the big beat boutique, going nowhere, but thrillingly so for five minutes. Those liquid mercury guitar fills and coke-sprinkled riffs are relentless and tiresome on most of the other tracks though – the kinda stuff you hear played by showy assistants in guitar shops up and down the country. C’mon Stone Roses, you’re better than this.

And they were. Ten Story Love Song is a cracker, Sugar Spun Sister on steroids for those of us seeking a glimpse back to the heady summer of 1989. And the way it segues on the record into Daybreak is the greatest moment on the album.

Daybreak gives you a glimpse into the real Stone Roses, shackled of expectation and pressure, just the four of them grooving along to a fantastically loose-limbed jam. It’s so out of place with the rest of the album that I’m of the impression it was never really intended to be on it at all. A warm-up session perhaps for the ‘proper’ recording to follow, fortuitously captured by a quick-thinking tape op, magnetised forever and slotted early into the album sequence.

Stone RosesDaybreak

What’s great about it is that there’s little in the way of overdub or studio trickery. The four constituent parts are right there in the mix, easily identifiable, each doing their own thing, creating something far greater than the sum of their parts. It’s the rhythm, section that hits you first, isn’t it? It’s the way Reni and Mani drive the track with rat-a-tatting drums and rumbling jungle bass, eyes locked on one another, not even aware of what the other two are up to, working intuitively and cooking up a proper simmering stew that keeps the whole thing moving ever-forwards, speeding up, locking in, driving us to the logical conclusion.

The solid rhythm allows John Squire to throw psychedelic shapes across the top, little splashes of colour as random and just-so as the paint spatters on those Pollock-inspired record covers. His right hand scratches the groove, his left fingers bend the notes, his momentus fringe keeping the whole thing swingin’ majestically. By the time Ian Brown comes up with the lyrics – a plea for peace and equality that’s part random geography lesson, part Rosa Parks infomercial (and a ‘love is the law here‘ line that Squire would nick post-Roses), Daybreak, for better or worse, is as loose and airy, yet tight and locked as anything off of Led Zep II.

10 thoughts on “Addis ababa-ba-ba”

  1. “but we’ve heard it all before, Stone Roses. That was a claim you couldn’t ever throw at the sparkling debut”

    Funnily enough my first thought when I heard the debut, great album though it is, was well someone’s been listening to Sonic Flower Groove!

  2. Ha! Sonic Flower Groove, maybe, but played through a kaleidoscope of zeitgeist-defining arrogance and self-belief. The debut wasn’t like nothing already on the musical planet…yet the Stone Roses were like nothing already on the musical planet.

  3. My views on TSC have changed over time. When it came out I rabidly defended it and genuinely loved much of it. Over time I’ve found it harder to love. It’s neither as good as some people claim nor as bad as some slagged it at the time but it is a bit of a mess and the lightness of touch, self assured nature and sheer tunefulness of the debut are gone. You can in the blame on Squire for this and many do but Ian sounds poor throughout this record, his singing sounds stoned- and not in a good way. The LZ riffing of Driving South and the dance beats of Begging You are both highlights but neither are brilliant either. I like Breaking Into Heaven especially the extended intro- that’s where I thought they should be going, a kind of heavy psychedelic stew. Ten Storey is alright- I think the reasons its so praised is because its the only one on the album that is clearly the work of the same band who made the first one. I take all your points about Daybreak but part of me also thinks its the sort of thing they could do in their sleep. Love Spreads- I used to love it but now I’m not so sure. It’s a keeper I suppose and there are a few songs on TSC that if they’d never been released I don’t think I’d miss- Straight To The Man and Good Times for starters. Tears is overblown too. I said recently at my blog that I’d take Elephant Stone over the whole of TSC and I think I meant it.

  4. I’ve always liked the Second Coming but then again I always was a fan of Jimmy Page’s guitar but not of Zeppelin as a whole, far too dodgy, could see that even as a young teen. TSC wasn’t what I was expecting but I can’t really say what I was expecting but I was hoping for not just a slightly different rehash of the debut. Things had moved on from then.

    Is it just me or does Ten Storey Love Song owe more than a little nod to Ideology by Billy Bragg.

    I’m with Stmirrenbill on the originality of the first album but then again everything is borrowed

  5. I think the issue with TSC is that everyone wanted to like it, love it, but it felt a real let down given what they’d released beforehand. I wish they’d gone down a similar route to Something’s Burning; groovy, dark, unfolding. TSC is mainly cliched rock.

    You’re spot on with the Billy Bragg similarities.

  6. I’ve heard this album described as a flawed masterpiece, which for me is about right. It contains some of their finest moments; breaking into heaven, ten storey, begging you, how do you sleep, love spreads.I think if they’d fleshed it out and delivered a double album containing a couple more classic roses sounding tunes, they might have just pulled it off. It’s definitely due a reissue, the early leckie versions of the album would be worth a listen, plus whatever else was on those dat tapes that Ian took away in his pillow case.

  7. Loved this piece, love the pics – and I’ve always loved TSC (Good Times aside. Should’ve made that blues-rock-by-numbers semi-duffer a B-side imho and gone for the same 11-track sequence as the debut, which would’ve been a deceptive intro as everything else about TSC is different).

    “The debut wasn’t like nothing already on the musical planet…yet the Stone Roses were like nothing already on the musical planet.”


    The same, but different. Faster, but slower. Etc.

    However I wouldn’t want to live in a world where TSC never existed. I find it a thrilling, murky, mysterious and sprawling smorgasbord of a record. But. I got into the Roses (via an atrocious but loveably lo-fi cassette tape-of-a-tape DIY copy of the debut in the heady summer of…1994. I was a kid then, so had missed all the 1989 daisy-age fandango. So I only had to wait six months for TSC, unlike you lot with your five years and then some. Which perhaps explains my different take on it, or perhaps not).

    That said, the aforementioned Something’s Burning is my favourite Roses song ever. Way down deep, dark and funky (to quote Brownie on TSC offcut Ride On). I think it was the blueprint for the album they should’ve made BETWEEN the debut and TSC. It’s hazy, post-jangle psychedelic feel cloaked in mystery would’ve been a perfect groove for the mood of the music masses circa 1990-1991. Which would’ve had a further benefit in making the leap from TSR to TSC so much less of a jarring contrast as that way we would’ve seen the joins (seen the joints, more like).

    But due to Gareth’s shenanigans, Zomba’s/Silvertone’s shafting skullduggery and the band getting distracted by the enemies of rock n’ roll (filthy lucre, babies makin’ babies, all four members being on different drugs simultaneously and wedding bells breaking up that ol’ gang of mine…) alas it wasn’t to be.

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