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.

demo, Hard-to-find, Studio master tapes

Spread ’em!

I’ve been meaning to mention that Stone Roses reissue from a few weeks back. Whatever you think of them, I have to tell you that the remastered album sounds absolutely magic. It’s night and day compared to the weak, tinny excuse of a CD that didn’t even come out when the album was initially released. The new version sounds like a jet plane taking off in your living room. I can only guess what it must sound like through a decent pair of Senheissers after a jazz cigarette. If I had the money I’d have sprung for the complete nuts ‘n bolts b-sides ‘n all release in the John Squire artwork adorned canvas 12″ box. If everything sounds as good as the mastering on the album it’ll be well worth it, and the rest. Until I have the money, bittorrent will be my best friend…

stone roses bw

I’ve written about Love Spreads before (here – you’ll find the demo and the guitar tab) but I feel compelled to write about it again given that mp3s of yer actual studio mastertapes fell into my exciteable wee hands only a couple of hours ago. Aye, that’s right! The studio mastertapes for Love Spreads! Sort of…

Lead guitar

Mani Bassline

Reni drum track

vocals + guitar + piano

I’m sure they’re taken from one of those Guitar Hero-type video games (maybe Rock Band?) but I have 3 seperate tracks and one amalgamated track featuring vocals, guitar and piano (with a bit of bass bleeding through now and again). They sound fantastic. The bassline alone is crying out for some bedroom nerd to remix it into oblivion. In fact, if you had the time to combine the bass parts with the drum track, you’d have yourself the perfect backing track if you fancy a spot of bedroom hip hop.

Squire’s isolated guitar part sounds fairly easy to play, although the ‘track’ I have sounds like 2 guitar tracks added together – one fat sounding dropped D Les Paul doing all the slide parts and a thinner sounding guitar playing all the clipped chords and those top-of-the-scale notes. Find my tab from the other post and jam along. That’s what I’ve been doing this morning instead of the ironing! 

stone roses love spreads vid

Remember to get Audacity for the full Phil Spector four track bedroom production effect! And try not to make a mess in yer Calvins, McMark.

Bonus Track!!!

The long-forgotten live-in-the-studio version of Love Spreads that made it’s only appearance on the original 1995 Help album. No one ever mentions it but this version is immense. Features a nice piano ‘n drums break down not on the single version. Get it!


Let me put you in the picture,

let me show you what I mean. Ian Brown is the flattest singer in the world, ever. When he starts to sing, and I use the term ‘sing‘ in the loosest terms, you couldn’t get one of John Squire‘s plectrums between the arse of his flared Joe Bloggs and the Spike Island toxic sludge. But you knew that already.


Stone Roses, 1993

So kudos to Simon Dawson. He’s the anonymous genius who mixed ol’ monkey boy’s flat-as-a-pancake vocals into the rough polished diamond that is The Second Coming, the Stone Roses long-in-the-making second (and final) album. Why Dawson isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Nigel Godrich or John Leckie or any of those other indie-producing wunderkinds is anyone’s guess. If I was in a band and looking for that Led Zeppelin plays Sly Stone’s Greatest Funk Hits sound, he’s the man I’d be looking for.


Reni & Mani do a Brown

As a band, the 3 non-singing musicians can really play. Listen to this, the vocal-free rehearsal track that became ‘Daybreak‘.  8 minutes long at the fade-out and not an overdub within earshot. Or listen to this, John Squire and Reni jamming on effect-heavy guitar and drums. Like, cosmic man! They can really play. But. Add the vocals and you get this. The 1993 demo of ‘Love Spreads’ sounds like heavy funk soup. It was my favourite record when it came out. I played it to death. I’ve never played the demo to death, though it is something of a curio. But the demo version lets you appreciate the lengths Simon Dawson had to go to at the controls in order to get the whole thing sounding fantastic.

In more innocent times, I used to de-tune my guitar to open G, grab an empty botle of Stella as a rudimentary slide and freak out in front of the mirror as I played along loudly to ‘Love Spreads’. In actual fact, all you need to do is drop the thick ‘E’ string to a ‘D’, get yourself a decent £5 slide and play along to the tab below. S’easy, man!



John Squire, Glasgow Green

A wee ned punched me full in the face at this gig. Sore, yes, but not as painful as the bootleg I have of the show. Those flat vocals. Ouch!