So, a second new song this year from The Stone Roses has turned up, somewhat like it’s a perfectly normal, this happens all the time thing. It isn’t, look you see, and for many of us the idea of new music in the name of the band was as improbable as the four of them ever being in the same room together. But, there it is, and Beautiful Thing is “out there” as a sound, if not a physical record just yet.
Thoughts? If only they had done this in 1994 things might have been so very different. Yes, “what if” is a dangerous game to play. One thing that tore the band around in the first instance was a stunning difference in intention of direction. If we take Fool’s Gold as a point of departure, broadly Ian Brown wanted to go the psychedelic, tribal beat route with the band, John Squire had (entirely justified) visions of cementing his place as a legendary blues / (proper not in the modern sense) r n b guitarist. The sound of Second Coming, for the most part, was the sound of Squire winning the direction, only for the destination to remain elusive if not lost.
Yes, quite, you are right. The most honest answer as to why the band actually split up is as per Mani when anyone asked him. I believe it really was as simple as "four different people doing four different types of drugs".
Whilst All For One, the big return for the band, was whimsical psychedelic pop, Beautiful Thing is the sound that the band should always have been – devastating breakbeats, roving bass, hauntingly passive aggressive lyrics and a master class in guitar across seven minutes. That tantalising glimpse we got 18 (!) years ago of what might have been, the Ian Brown solo track Can’t See Me which just happened to feature Mani and Reni (albeit in the latter case from an old recording), is here in sound with the guitar which was so sorely missing.
It’s quite good then. Tres good, if you like, since you all seem rather keen on my dazzling French skills. It’s not an “instant classic” and nor does it at this stage feel like it fits in with their more celebrated records, but then again let us not forget that the earlier mentioned Fool’s Gold started off life as a b-side.
Provenance of my hearing it? Stayed up for the midnight premiere in the early minutes of last Friday. I heard it on something called Radio X or X Radio. A muted DJ who knew his place, thankfully – far better than the experience of All For One, where one had to listen to the poor Annie Mac ask the considerably Poorer Nick Grimshaw insightful questions such as “are The Stone Roses popular in Manchester?”.
But of course I was on the computer not long after that, buying the download off of Apple (for that again was the only place where you could buy and get it straight away), and placing an order for the (ahem) one-sided 12” of it.
The 12” single is, apparently, limited to 5,000 worldwide. I thought it best to get online and order it straight away, lest I miss out and not own a physical copy of a Stone Roses song. It could have been all sold out by 3am, or alternatively there could have been 4,900 copies still available at a more reasonable hour. I wasn’t chancing it.
And, as it transpires or if you like how it turns out, I was correct......
My (considerably) better half, who will hear nothing but that everything The Stone Roses record being better than anything anyone else has ever done (hence us being married, with that kind of thinking), believes that the cover artwork is “reason enough to get a butterfly tattoo”. Yes, quite. If she follows through with this thinking, I shall be sure to update and share, depending on where any such tattoo features.
I’ve nothing against tattoos. I have never really wanted one, except for two. Firstly, for some 30 years I have been debating getting the Frankie Goes To Hollywood logo on my arm, like what Paul Rutherford had (he’s covered it up now). Second was to get “The Stone Roses Heaton Park July 1 2012” in the same font as the debut album. No, I shall probably not get either.
To go back to the physical release, then, I think it’s quite clear that the releases are something of a gesture to those of us who can’t quite grasp the idea of “licensing” music as a download rather than “owning” it as a physical thing. I know many have kicked off about the fact that we now have two one track, single sided releases – my dear friends over on the superb site superdeluxeedition.com in particular. Valid complaints, certainly, but I would suggest not the most ambitious cash grab I have ever seen. If we for some reason assumed that the band keeps 100% of the ostensible ₤35,00 made from selling all 5,000 copies of the one sided Beautiful Thing 12”, well, to you or I that’s a load of coins of money; to them that is literal coins compared to what the live shows generate.
So, two new songs, then. Does this mean an actual album is on the way? Probably. Hopefully, perhaps, is the better word to use. With the physical release of All For One only shipping on July 1 and the 12” of Beautiful Thing shipping on July 22, however, I suspect we have a while to wait yet.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!