The bigger question is why so many people want to see them, though in the handbills for the other summer events where they’ll be appearing – T in the Park, the V Festivals – there lurk all kinds of answers. Other headliners include Snow Patrol, the Vaccines and the Maccabees, who will turn up, do their thing with tedious proficiency and go blankly on their way. In other words, it falls to four men at the tail-end of their 40s to remind modern audiences of the tightrope walk that once lay between triumph and disaster, and why even in the midst of a talent for self-sabotage, an elusive something can still burn through. That’s the highfalutin theory, anyway. The more prosaic truth may be that in times as grim as these, thousands of people will happily pretend that the last 20 years have been rolled back, and that if only for a couple of hours, they can be back in 1990 – happily looking to a future which, for the Stone Roses as much as anyone, singularly failed to happen.
John Harris on The Stone Roses, in The Guardian.
I have mixed feelings about The Stone Roses. They were shit and excellent at the same time.
I was supposed to be logging back in again here to tell you that I began THE BIG FANMAIL PROJECT last night, by writing not to Stuart Murdoch, but Simon Armitage, but I’ve just heard an advert for Zane Lowe’s Masterpieces on the radio and it’s jumped right up the list of priorities.
I only listen to Radio 1 at work, because if I don’t put my foot down over a station that at least sometimes plays Cage The Elephant or Elbow, I’ll be stuck with Magic FM or some other commercial jingly crap. But very occasionally, Radio 1 genuinely earn their portion of the license fee, and one such example is Zane Lowe’s Masterpieces. Every so often (six months? a year?) he spends a week paying homage to the days when an album was a body of work that represented the blood, sweat and tears of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, guitar manufacturers, drug dealers, you name it. It wasn’t just a collection of songs that you judged on thirty second iTunes clips before purchasing the ones you instantly liked and ignored the growers for all eternity. An album release used to be a big deal, and very occasionally one would come along that was not only sonically flawless, but inspiration and era-defining as well. It’s these albums that Zane Lowe celebrates during his week of Masterpieces.
My previous favourites have been Led Zep IV and Appetite For Destruction, and because you can’t please everyone, I’ve been a bit surprised when he chose The Strokes and The Libertines. The garage rock thing is his taste I guess. What is certain, is that Zane’s absolute passion for the records comes across in every breath that he utters throughout the shows. My housemate Andy can’t stand the guy, and I put this down to Andy never having connected with music the same way that some people have. Talking about the merits of Guns N’Roses feels like life or death to people such as myself and Zane Lowe, but I suppose there are thousands out there who just aren’t bothered, which is why Zane’s borderline-hyperbole probably sounds a bit silly. I’m right behind him though.
The Masterpieces shows start off with an hour or so of discussion, documentary footage and interviews with the band and bands and artists who have gone on to be influenced by the record in question. They’re really well put together, slickly edited and absolutely fascinating if you’re a fan and remember the release first time around, or even, I presume, if you’re discovering them for the first time. The Masterpieces show on Appetite For Destruction was a much better representation of what Guns N’Roses mean to their fans than this Chinese Demoncracy debacle ever will be.
After all the interviews and background info (this can delve into social and economic factors - making learning fun!), the albums are played in full and uninterrupted. It’s the way the artists intended them to be heard.
Next week’s choices are the best yet I reckon. They’re certainly the most consistently excellent if you ask me. The debut from The Stone Roses, The debut from Rage Against The Machine, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd (I am about to get my Dad into this BIG STYLE) and Music For The Jilted Generation by Prodigy. All hugely important, influential albums, but it’s RATM that I’m wetting my knickers over right now. I’m going out with my mate Sophie in Tuesday, but I will be making sweet Rage love to BBC iPlayer come Wednesday.