Alternative Version, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find, Live!

Fly Moves And Resurrected Grooves

No-one other than the main protagonist himself will know exactly what sounds John Squire was listening to on the day the music for I Am The Resurrection tumbled forth from his fingertips, liquid mercury floating atop a bedrock carved from the groovier elements of prime-time Hendrix, but even the most lenient of high court judges would be hard-pushed not to blurt out “Take him down!” whilst pushing forward a battered copy of Tim Buckley‘s Happy Sad LP as Exhibit A in the case against the Stone Roses’ super-flash riff meister.

Buzzin’ Fly, the second song on side 1 tumbles in on a riff that ‘Roses fans should recognise instantly. Indeed, if, by the 3rd second in, flares don’t start flappin’ in time to lolloping limbs, I’ll eat my well-worn Pollocked bucket hat and give up this blogging lark forever.

Tim Buckley Buzzin’ Fly

It’s the 18 carat gold signature riff to I Am the Resurrection, innit?! The missing link between Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Tim Buckley’s ethereal 12 string carries the tune whilst Lee Underwood’s mercurial, fluid electric lead meanders happily hither and thither, yet it’s undeniably the riff wot elevated Stone Roses from mere 60s-influenced day trippers to full-on, arrogant true believers (with messiah desires thrown in for good measure).

If you were being particularly scrutinous, you might also point out the similarities between its laid-back, free-spirited guitar interplay and the shuffling backing on Stone Roses’ Bye Bye Badman and Shoot you Down. Indeed, there’s maybe even a case for considering the guitar playing on Buzzin’ Fly to be the very genesis of that entire Stone Roses album. It’s clearly an influence, any cloth-eared fool can hear that.

Back in 1989, I had no idea at all that such a tune could tumble from the fingers of anyone but the expertly-coiffed Squire. Many an hour was spent mangling my fingers into shapes previously uncharted in the forlorn hope that I might replicate even 10 seconds of the heaven-sent instrumental passage that closed Stone Roses’ debut album. From street-suss rock riffing to full-on Starsky & Hutch funk, this was a new kinda guitar hero, from roughly the same area as Johnny Marr too, but a million miles way from his crystalline jangle. Nowadays, muscle memory has enabled me to jam along faithfully to I Am The Resurrection and my ham-fisted attempts might even border on being nearly right, but back then, continual stomping on my cheap fuzz box was the only answer I had when fingers were suddenly required to travel further up the fretboard than ever before.

(Dennis Morris, Glasgow Green)

No such worries for the guitarist in the spotlight, though. Here he is carrying the tune for upwards of 10 groovetastic minutes at the original Glasgow Green show in June 1990, 29 years ago yesterday, as coincidence would have it. With the sweat dripping from the ceiling of the massive circus tent and the anonymous rave music blaring like a beacon to the demented before the band appeared and then the punch full in the face from the wee random ned as I Wanna Be Adored rumbled through its opening gears, I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Stone Roses – Elizabeth My Dear/I Am The Resurrection (live, Glasgow Green, 9th June 1990, bootleg)

Lee Underwood – remember him?! – it would appear, went no further than the 9 albums he recorded as Tim Buckley’s right hand man, but what an important element to Buckley’s sound he turned out to be. Worth investigating, is Buckley Snr.

(Photo by Kevin Cummins/Getty Images)

Worth reinvestigating also is that Stone Roses album.

I remember reading a Gruff Rhys interview where he said that he’d played the works of The Velvet Underground so much in his youth that the music was now embedded in the virtual mp3 player in his brain, just waiting to be called down wherever and whenever it took his fancy.

I daresay the Stone Roses debut is similarly lodged in my cerebellum, but nothing beats getting out the real thing once or twice a year, placing it on the turntable and waiting (im)patiently for the low creeping bass that introduces the band one by one; bass then drums then guitar then vocals – the perfect intro. By the end of side 2, I’ve usually picked up the ol’ Fender and, capo on the 2nd fret (important that – those whippersnapper YouTubers seem to dispose of such essentials) teleported myself back to May ’89 when anything beyond the 5th fret was like a foreign language. It still is, I suppose, but I can speak a wee bit of it nowadays.

Stone RosesI Am The Resurrection

New! Now!

THIS Is The One

Men of a certain age last night/this morning exhaled a collective breath as wide and expansive as a pair of vintage 27″ Joe Bloggs, as the second coming of the third coming of the Stone Roses proved to be ace.

stone roses beautiful

Following the sloppy, ill-advised ‘All For One‘ come-back single a few weeks ago, the new single ‘Beautiful Thing‘ has, mercifully, all the hallmarks of vintage Stone Roses. It grooves in on a Funky Drummer shuffle, a welcome old friend who’s been AWOL for the past two or so decades, coated in backwards vocals and trippy guitar. As the beat kicks in, we’re straight into the vocals; light and airy, Brown riffing about the crucifixion, so-so sooooky vampires and all manner of alliterative mumbo jumbo – “sister musta missed ya, method to my madness, reason to my rhyme…” As it plays, I can see him standing there in the classic apeman pose, shaking a pair of those stick tambourines he’s favoured since the comeback of a couple of years ago. I can also see Reni, head down and bobbing like a nodding dog in the back of a Ford Capri, eyes shut and lips pursed in the knowing pout of someone who knows they’re doing a fine, fine job.

Stone RosesBeautiful Thing

Squire’s guitar is excellent. The tone, the choice of effects, the sugar coating on top is perfect. A track like this requires dollops of full-fat funk and here he is, splashing shades of wah-wah across the top, breaking it down with wee backwards bits reminiscent of those old, classic b-sides and bringing it, kicking and screaming into the present day with a lightning flash guitar solo. At the breakdown there are even those wee reverby, echoey dang dang dangs that made Fools Gold the futurefunk record that it was.  Mani’s bass is still too low in the mix, if y’ask me, but we can’t have it all. Comparing this record to the last one is like comparing a paper aeroplane to a rocket. One flimsy and rubbish, the other up and out there, powerful and rumbly.

stone roses lemon

The whole thing lollops along for 7 sublime minutes. ‘It’s too orangey for crows‘, I’m thinking. ‘It’s just for me and ma dawg...’ (80s reference there, for those of you of that certain age). When you get to the end, you can’t help thinking “Fools Gold mark II, or at least Breaking Into Heaven without the generous dusting of cocaine,” but it’s ripe, absolutely ripe for segueing into yer actual Fools Gold. The wee drum break at the end is just itching to pick up the pace slightly and get into it. What’s the betting this is what they do at the summer gigs?

I like this current Stone Roses tactic of guerilla gigging and event releases and whatnot.  Imagine if they’d shoved Beautiful Thing out unannounced a couple of weeks ago instead of the one that sounds like Shed 7 in a rehearsal room? After its 3rd play at almost 1 o’clock this morning, I’d already played the new one twice as much as that particular clunker. Had I been a couple of shandies to the good, I might even have been tempted to sell my soul for a ticket for one of the enormo-dome shows they’re doing soon. Might have been. At least now I, and many others, have renewed faith that the album will be worth the wait.

 

New! Now!

Is That It? Really?

2016 has been a shitty year for musical deaths, but it’s also a year that holds much in the way of stellar resurrection. No pun intended.

Trashcan Sinatras begin a US tour tomorrow with Pledgers keen and eager to hear live versions of the excellent, slight change of direction new album they’ve been living with for a couple of weeks. Non-Pledgers have a few more weeks to bide their time before they can hear what all the fuss is about, but believe me, it’s worth the wait.

The ever-reliable Teenage Fanclub have a new LP due for imminent release. With fingers and toes crossed, I expect no less than three-part harmonies and all manner of chiming, fuzzing, clean-clanging vintage guitars.

Radiohead had the Internet and its granny in a big frothy lather last Sunday with their guerilla tactics when their new LP arrived virtually, welcomed with many open arms and followed by much over the top gushing praise. It’s a cracker of an album, maybe even album of the year. Each listen brings new things to the fore; subtleties, soundscapes rather than songs, much of the background electronica reminiscent of Brian Eno’s ‘Bloom‘ app. Seriously. I could listen to it for the next 4 months and still change my mind over which track is my favourite. Today it’s ‘Ful Stop‘. Tomorrow it’ll probably be ‘The Numbers‘. Or ‘Glass Eyes’. Or….

stone roses 2016

But The Stone Roses. Dear oh dear. Hopes were high. Not sky high. They’re the masters of the big letdown after all. I remember, pre internet days, turning gangs of lads away from the Our Price counter on Feb 14th 1992, the intended release date for the big ‘Love Spreads‘ comeback. The single (a magical comeback single, it must be said) finally crept out in November 1994.

Stone RosesAll For One

Stone Roses have only just gone and spectacularly pissed all over their legacy, submerged it totally in golden yellow effluence in fact, with a limp-wristed clunky identikit indie single that in the mid 90s would’ve struggled to find its way onto third place on a Seahorses CD single.

It’s rubbish.

Interestingly, it was premiered on also rubbish Radio 1, last relevant when Brown and co were casually throwing out spacedust-sprinkled pop nuggets with giddy abandon. Squire’s guitars do the clunk click every trip pseudo psychedelic riff. Guitar shop heroics that he should be well away from by now. He’s in his 50s, for crying out loud.  Brown’s lyrics are laughable.  “All for one and one for all. If we all hold hands we’ll make a wall.” Sweet baby Jesus. And Mary, mother of God. This is not the resurrection.

For a band who once glided effortlessly above and beyond pop cool, this is a divebomber of quite catastrophic proportions. Even those folk who’ve been going nuts for it on social media – y’know, the folk who like all kinds of music, ‘Kasabian, Noel G, everything, really,” will surely be feeling a wee bit short changed by now.

Best thing about the comeback? That the band chose to pose for a photo with my car in the background. My old Astra is far more of a banger than the single. It, my friends, is a total car crash. Biggest musical death of 2016? Aye, Bowie and Prince were shockers. But The Stone Roses have just trumped ’em all.

Get This!, Gone but not forgotten, Hard-to-find

The Mighty Wah

Wahw-wah-wah-wahw-wah-wah-wah-wah-wahw-wahw-wahw-wah!

“Vox’s fabulous new wah-wah pedal opens the door to a variety of great new sounds!”

So says this epoch-defining trade ad from 1967. “Make your guitar grrrrowl! Make it sound like a see-tar! Listen to the funky bass guitar sounds you get!”

wah wah vox 2

Vox Wah-Wah Ad (5 minutes long and worth listening to every minute):

The wah-wah was created by happy accident, when Vox engineers got the circuitry mixed up in a new range of Beatles-inspired amps they were producing. Realising they’d just created an electronic version of the effect jazz trumpeters had pioneered in the 20s by muting their horn with a hat, they seized on the potential and began producing wah-wah pedals.

hendrix wah

Almost immediately, guitar players saw their appeal. Jimi Hendrix was an early adopter of the effect – Up From the Skies on Axis: Bold As Love was one of the first tracks recorded with a wah-wah, and from then on in, it featured heavily in Jimi’s incendiary output. The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp, All Along The Watchtower, Voodoo Chile (of course) – all featured the screamin’ sound of the wah. There he is above, quite literally rockin’ the wah.

Before long, no self-respecting psychedelic act was without a wah-wah, and the the pedal became an integral part of the sound of the era. As a general rule of thumb, the wider the flares, the wilder the wah. The Electric Prunes even went as far as endorsing the effect.

Electric Prunes Vox Wah Wah Ad

george harrison 1970

George Harrison, newly freed from the shackles of The Beatles and with a sackful of songs he was eager to release under his own name employed Vox’s pedal on the self-explanatory Wah-Wah from 1970’s All Things Must Pass.

George HarrisonWah-Wah

It’s a cracking track, almost throwaway pop, although it maybe buckles a wee bit under the pressure of Phil Spector’s over the top production. Sleigh bells? Aye! 35 backing singers? Of course! More brass than a colliery band? Well, it is being produced by Spector. A multitude of guitar tracks?  Well, it is being played by George Harrison. The main riff is suitably Eastern-influenced, a call and response one chord groove that swaggers like Muhammad Ali in the 15th round. It soars with each key change, guitars free-forming over the top while the original riff underpins the whole thing. George even has the cheek to steal the chorus from that Vox ad at the top there. Listen again to the last 30 seconds. Who noticed?!? Kula Shaker certainly did – George’s track practically gives birth to the daft four-piece, but don’t hold that against him.  Om shanti shanti shanti.

wah wah vox

By the 70s, the wah-wah was being employed to great effect by the soul community. Curtis Mayfield….Sly Stone….The Temptations….they all had wah-heavy records out. Rather than solo, (that would be far too ‘rock’), the players created the distinctive wacka-wacka sound that’s now become the ubiquitous sound of the wah-wah. Y’know, Theme From ‘Shaft’ ‘n all that.

Temptation Dennis Edwards, far left, and cast members party at the Gordy Mansion, April 13, 1970. (Motown Record Corp.)
Temptation Dennis Edwards, far left, and cast members party at the Gordy Mansion, April 13, 1970. (Motown Record Corp.)

Here‘s the lesser-known (by Shaft standards at any rate) Psychedelic Shack from The Temptations:

Since then, the wah-wah pedal has featured on all sorts of tracks by all sorts of musicians, from Joni Mitchell and John Martyn to Metallica and The Melvins. It’s reassuring to know that in any given record collection, you’re never more than 30cm from a track featuring a wah-wah.

john squire

Here’s Fools Gold, of course….the full-length version, of course…

Stone RosesFools Gold

fools gold tab

 

Get This!, Hard-to-find, Live!

I Wanna Be Indoo-oo-ors

Well. This piece is causing all sorts of debate over at Louder Than War. Shoot me down….

Stone Roses, Glasgow Green

Saturday June 15th, 2013

reni 1

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

Gonzoid observationalist Hunter S Thomson said this 30 odd years ago. It’s never been more relevant today. The Stone Roses know all about the money trench and the thieves. For any good men and women attending their show at Glasgow Green, they will now, unfortunately, know all about the negative side.

At a gig of this magnitude, you expect all walks of life to be present; the good, the bad and the downright ugly, but this was something else entirely. Brad Pitt was in town a year or so ago filming zombie slopfest World War Z, and as the afternoon turned to evening, the Green resembled a lost cut of the movie. Had Brad been here, he’d have been looking for direction. Or a way out. It was as if every mental health establishment in the West of Scotland had simply shipped every one of its patients up the Clyde and into the park before flinging the key down the nearest, darkest well and doing a runner. Inside, the park was a human cesspit, a giant soup of slurring, slevering stupids in splatted bucket hats, barely able to stand or sit or stagger. It was horrible.

ian brown 1

This isn’t supposed to sound snobbish, but it will invariably be taken that way in any case. So shoot me down. Music fans, the ‘real’ music fans who are regular gig goers and album buyers and live and breathe music like it’s some all-encompassing need for survival will be now be reflecting on a gig where more of the focus was on what was happening around them than what was happening on the big stage in front of them. Music is for all, and you can’t deny anyone’s right to like a band, but why is it The Stone Roses seem to attract the wrong element?

The ones in wee huddles, backs to the stage and openly sniffing and snorting their Class As off of credit cards and keys and whatever else provided a flat surface. Not there for the music, are they?

The ones pilled, powdered and poppered off the planet who, by default, created their own wee exclusive zone amongst the decent people where they could foam at the mouth and loll around, indifferent or oblivious to the sounds coming from the stage. Not there for the music, are they?

The ones tossing cups and bottles containing overpriced beer (and worse) with joyful abandon into the air and onto the crowd in front of them. Throwing pissiles is, I think, the phrase I’m looking for. There were hundreds of these cretins everywhere. Not there for the music, are they?

And the thugs. The 40-something year-old grown-up hooligans in expensive sports wear, pent-up aggression evidently at boiling point, perpetuating the underlying threat of violence if you happen to glance at them the wrong way. Not there for the music, are they?

mani 1

With all this distraction it might’ve been difficult to focus on the stage. Just for the record, The Stone Roses were terrific. But you probably knew that already. I’ve seen them live a handful of times since 1989 and this was easily the most full-on, the most fluid, I’ve ever seen them.

If the sound of the first album is the sound of a band effortlessly gliding their own meandering way across 60s-tinged psychedelic pop, Glasgow Green was the sound of a band dive-bombing their own material with napalm bombs of funk – the muscled-up Second Coming band giving the first album the workout it didn’t even know it needed.

Bobby Gillespie had earlier invited us to Kick Out The Jams, but if anything, the Roses were hell-bent on doing the exact opposite. The 17 song set was packed full of add-ons, cheeky Beatles riffs when Squire thought no-one was looking and enough improvisation required if anyone still doubted this band’s ability to play. I Wanna Be Adored was given a coda akin to Sly Stone going 15 rounds with Jimmy Page.  Standing Here’s Hendrixian hysterics gave way to a beautifully extended and elongated chiming guitar part that ebbed and flowed like the tide on the Firth of the Clyde. Fools Gold, misplaced (to these ears at least) in mid-set was an astonishing exercise in 10? 15? 20? minute motorik, precision funk, its lazy Krautrock groove underpinned by Mani’s outrageously switched-on bass playing and Reni’s octopus-limbed polyrhythms. The best rhythm section around? I think so. Brown’s vocals, so often the brunt of ridicule and mirth sounded fairly decent. In tune, even. Although it could be hard at times to hear him amongst the out of tune voices barking approximations of the right words back at him.

ian reni 1

The gig, the actual musical part of the gig was an absolute triumph. You’ll read lots of testimonies to that over the next few days and weeks as writers trip over superlatives in an attempt to help you fully appreciate it. In fact, I won’t be surprised if/when the Stone Roses let slip that Glasgow Green 2013 really is the best gig they’ve ever played. They simply were that outstanding. It’s just a shame that it was all played out in such shitty conditions.

The Music

Here’s two versions of I Am The Resurrection, one , a faithful to the album version from Rooftops in Glasgow, June 1989 that I recorded myself on my Dad’s wee dictaphone….

 

The other , below, is from the last time they played Glasgow Green, in the big tent. By this time, the band had stretched it out to almost 11 minutes long. At the weekend, it was even longer. You can read about the first Glasgow Green gig here.

And here’s I Am The Resurrection from Saturday night in all its 12 minutes glory.

(Link removed at the request of video owner)

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!

Hard-to-find

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-roses2

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.

reni2

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!

E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
d|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------5-----5/8---5/8---5/8---5-------0---3-5---5/10---8---5---0-5------|
D|-0---------0-----------------------0----------------------------------0--|
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
----7-----------------------------------------7----------------------------|
--7---7\----------------------0---0-------0--------------------------------|
----------0-5/8---5/8---5/8-----3---5/8-----------0-3---5---8---5-8---5----|
---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
----------------------------------------------------------------10-----8---|
--7-------------------------------------------------------------9------7---|
--7-------------------------0-------5---5\--0--/5--/6--/7----/7-7---/5-5---|
------0---5/8---5/8---5/8--------------------------------------------------|
--------------------------------0------------------------------------------|
                                           
--------------------------------------||
8-------------------------------------||
7-------------7-----------------------||
5-------------7-----------------------||
----5/8---5-----0---3---5---8---5-8---||
--------------------------------------||

squire1

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!