Given that this album is 20 years old and has been subject to no small amount of discussion regarding its status as "the best album ever" and whether it deserves that title (it doesn't; what does?), it would seem churlish to talk about the subjective quality of the songs on it. You probably know them, and know whether you love them or not. I loved them passionately 15 years ago, as a 15 year old. But there's been a lot of records between then and now, and I'd never presume to know what my favourite record is these days, let alone the best ever.
So what I will talk about is the remastering. Silvertone & Sony have repackaged the scant amount of material that The Stone Roses produced between 1988 and 1990 in so many ways that many fans of this music quite rightly feel taken advantage of; singles & b-sides compilations (some of them very shoddy), 10th anniversary editions, remix compilations, demo compilations, a version in an eco-friendly recycled card sleeve... but until The Very Best Of in 2002 they never bothered remastering any Stone Roses material.
The remastering on that compilation was good; it added some weight and impact to (early) material that was a little lightweight on CD, that first album floating in a reverb haze with little bass or clarity to anchor it in the real world. Maybe that was part of the appeal of the debut album; on CD at least, it almost seemed like a dream.
The remastering on this edition is, if anything, even better; John Leckie and Ian Brown have talked about putting the bass back in to the CD release that was always on the vinyl, and they've certainly done that; Reni's kickdrum in the opening to I Wanna Be Adored now has some serious impact on your solar plexus if you turn it right up on a good pair of speakers, and Mani's bassline opening to She Bangs The Drums doesn't vanish when the guitars drop in.
But there's also more definition; you can hear the detail of the strings & fingers in that same bassline better, too. Even Ian's vocals are improved; when he sings "I'd love to do it and you know you've always had it coming" unaccompanied in Shoot You Down (possibly the most sonically improved track) he actually does sound angelic, his voice recorded and presented with an exquisitely natural tone. The stop/start guitars at the end of that tune also sound irresistible.
Other moments I've enjoyed more than on the initial CD release include the chugging guitar riff that starts Bye Bye Badman, which now slowly moves across the soundstage from one side to another and back, something I'd never noticed before. Don't Stop has gone from being a backwards indulgence to a truly awesome moment, the added physicality of it suggesting that dub was as much an influence as 60s psychedelia.
People who worry about this kind of thing (I'm one) will be pleased to know that the album hasn't just been brickwalled in terms of dynamic range either; thought it is louder than it was, the songs still have contours - This Is The One is particularly awesome, especially when it gets into its swirling climax.
I doubt the remastering here will be as revelatory as that on the forthcoming Beatles re-releases (the Beatles' master tapes almost certainly sound better than the Roses', and the Roses' initial CD release sounds better than the Beatles', if that make sense), but it's made me enjoy this album more than I have done for probably a decade. Hopefully the b-sides and non-album singles will soon get released on a single CD so they're affordable - as much as I love them, I'm not spending £80-£100 on the deluxe whistles & bells box set.
on 14 August 2009
There's a lot of negative noise about this product here, and I can understand people's gripes: there are a great number of excellent `Collector's Editions' or `Special Editions' that aren't bloated to the extent that this is and, more's to the point, don't come with a similarly bloated price tag. The Collector's Edition of Happy Mondays' `Bummed' is a particularly fine (and appropriate) example. But that said, I've bought this 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition of The Stone Roses debut and do love it - and would highly recommend it to you. It is however most definitely a luxury purchase: what you effectively get is the same content three times - on CD/DVD, vinyl and USB - along with a commemorative book and prints of John Squire's cover art, all wrapped up in a beautifully presented package. It is excessive, and if such excess turns you off then you should opt for one of the other, cheaper editions - or head to your preferred download site and pick off the tracks you want individually.
The album itself is of course a masterwork and doesn't need any further eulogising here. I first bought it on the day it was originally released back in May 1989, along with The Cure's `Disintegration' which was released the same week. I remember going home and listening to `Disintegration' first which, although good, is heavy going to say the least. I then put the Roses' album on and - BAM! - it was like throwing open the windows and letting the sunshine flood in. I was in love from that point on - a love that endures to this day.
The re-master by John Leckie and Ian Brown is the biggest reason to buy this: it's superb. Totally respectful of the original production, it just beefs it up and cleans it up so that the album and collected b-sides and singles sound as fresh as if they were recorded yesterday. If you love these songs, then you should get your hands on these re-mastered versions, whether you choose to buy this or one of the other editions, or download them. (It is a shame that it's only on this premium-priced Collector's Edition that you can get your hands on both the original album and collected B-sides and singles on CD - quite deliberate no doubt, because I'm sure many would have settled for this if it had been available as a discreet package.)
The demos are an interesting curiosity, but in all likelihood you'll listen to them once and then pop them back in the box never to re-emerge. `Pearl Bastard' - the previously unreleased song available here for the first time albeit in demo form - is okay but does sound a bit like `Sugar Spun Sister' which might suggest why it never saw the light of day.
The DVD is a nice addition to the overall package but doesn't offer anything new. You'll probably have seen the Empress Ballroom gig - you get this and a selection of promo videos which are frankly unremarkable. A `nice to have', but you can live without it.
You also get the album, extras and demos on heavy-duty vinyl - and they're also on the lemon-shaped USB along with some of the video content and a selection of ringtones. The main benefit of the USB is that it offers convenience - you don't have to rip the tracks off of the CDs in order to listen to them on your MP3 player - but that's pretty much it. One interesting point to note however: the `Extras' (b-sides/singles) CD contains the 12 inch version of `Elephant Stone', but on the USB you get the 7 inch version. I'm guessing this was a mistake - but I'm quite glad of it, because both versions have their separate merits.
The book that comes as part of the package is very good, but doesn't offer any particularly fresh insight. The contribution from John Leckie is the most interesting because his story isn't as oft told as those of the other contributors. John Robb's intro is fairly typical of these kind of things, and you get the usual stuff from Ian Brown and Mani, whilst Reni provides a poem and some art. John Squire is painfully conspicuous by his absence. The book also includes contributions from 'famous' names such as Noel Gallagher etc talking about their love of the Roses and how they were influenced by them. Some of these appear to be new, whilst some old, but all quite interesting.
So, overall I would say that whilst the constituent elements of the package don't individually offer anything particularly new/desirable (the re-master aside), the whole package does amount to more than the sum of its parts and provides a monolithic and suitably respectful monument to what is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. It is a luxury though, so I would suggest to anyone who doesn't want to part with the cash to buy the standard edition of the re-mastered album and download the singles/b-sides. However if you're as daft as me and have a deep and abiding love for the Stone Roses, then I would heartily recommend this to you.
Right, I'd better start saving now for whatever Silvertone are planning for the 25th anniversary...
on 21 July 2004
For me this is the best album there has ever been. Ian Brown's soulful voice is complimented by first rate guitar, bass and drumming (thankyou John Squire, Mani and Remi) that works beautifully. But what sets this album apart is it's lyrics - words and prose that the Gallagher brothers could only dream of coming up with. Classic anthems such as This Is The One and Waterfall provide a more upbeat foil for the murky depths of Sugar Spun Sister, Shoot You Down and Made Of Stone. Brown and Squire even have the audacity to have a pop at the royalty with the short but bittersweet Elizabeth My Dear. And just when you thought the album couldn't get any better, the Roses finish it off with I Am The Ressurection which I feel is quite possibly the best song that's ever been written - a upbeat, dreamy song with some of the most vitriolic lyrics penned.
It's easy to dismiss this album as just more Madchester 'lads' music but, for me, and the millions of other Roses fans it represents so much more. The arrogance found in songs like I Wanna Be Adored is completely merited - The Roses can back it up in every way. This is a fantastic album, and it takes pride of place at the top of my collection.
on 18 June 2014
First, the good stuff. The music on this album is still first rate, a 6-star album without a doubt. The cover artwork is also faithfully reproduced.
Everything else is terrible. The sound, What did they do to make this so flat sounding. No more punch in the guitars, "She Bangs The Drums" merely whimpers onto the speakers, instead of crashing guitars.
The mix here sounds totally different to what I grew up listening to. It has been remastered completely flat, no bite, no dymanics, its weak and completely changes your engagement with the music.
It is also cut very very quiet indeed, which means to get any sort of sonics out of it you really have to ramp up the volume, which means more surface noise. I was close to 0db on my amp and beyond to get anything out it, whereas my normal listening is around -11db.
This really cannot be recommended. The 1989 CD is much better than this. Do yourself a favour, track down a 1989/1990 Silvertone original vinyl pressing. Yes, it will cost you about £10-15 more, but its miles better than this very weak effort.
Money should be no object in enjoying this, one of the best albums of all time, so don't baulk at the price of a 2nd hand original, as it will pay you back time and again over this charlatan.
The Stone Roses were one of those bands who burned brightly... and all too briefly. Thankfully their presence has been long-lasting -- the music of their self-titled first album still lingers long after the breakup of the band. They captured lightning in a bottle, even if their first album's musical perfection was their downfall.
After the panoramic, rumbling buildup of "I Wanna Be Adored," the Roses catch you with rollicking, infectious rock songs and psychedelic trips. While sticking to strong pop melodies and rock instrumentation, the Roses manage to experiment around a bit -- the delicate "Waterfall" is literally turned backwards and replayed, in a song that is almost as good as the original.
The true rock rebellion shows in "Bye Bye Bad Man" with protests concerning French student riots ("Every backbone and heart you break/We'll still come back for more") and an acid-tinged anti-royalist song. Finishing up the unalloyed brilliance is the bitter, complicated "I Am the Resurrection," and the melodic "Fool's Gold" -- two of the best songs on the album.
The Stone Roses spread their influence far in this album -- there are soft ballad-like melodies, whirling psychedelic trips, and rock that rises, crests and slowly sinks. Expect your heartbeat to rise and sink with it -- because this music has a richness and depth that most rock music cannot even begin to equal.
John Squire's guitar riffs are flexible and fluid; it sounds like this guy was reinventing guitar licks all on his own. His shimmering guitar riffs of "Waterfall" are truly magnificent. The deep basslines will drawn you in whether you like it or not, as will Reni's outstanding drumming. Everything culminates in a wild, dense psychedelic mass in the overwhelming "I Am the Resurrection."
Ian Brown's vocals are excellent; unlike many rock singers, he has genuine vocal talent. The writing for these songs is deeply vibrant. Sometimes the intensity is almost breathtaking, as Brown sings, "I am the resurrection and I am the light/I couldn't ever bring myself/To hate you as I'd like." Ow, heavy stuff. But he is equally good with the quieter songs, sounding sad and a little pensive.
"The Stone Roses" is an unforgettable musical experience. A culmination of musical genius, this is one of the handful of albums out there without a bad track or a sense of monotony. Very, very highly recommended.
on 19 July 2003
This album sounds as amazing today as it did the first time I ever heard it playing in my mate's mustard coloured Mini all those years ago. This album is timeless, it was ahead of its time then and every time I play it now, it stills sounds so fresh. This album was and still is one of the few albums I own that I can say that every song is worth 5 stars.
Things kick off with I Wanna be Adored, which quietly rises out of your speakers before building up into a rip roaring crescendo that leaves you with no doubt that you also want to be adored and probably soon will be. Any doubts at all about your imminent new found hero worship are dispelled quickly when the opening lyrics of She Bangs The Drums are delivered with the arrogance and cocky swagger that was The Stone Roses set against timeless melodies that initially leave you unsure where the choruses are. Waterfall is just a beautiful song that is immediately accessible but before you get too pleased with yourself, Don't Stop comes along and jolts you out of your happy little world and reminds you just why these guys were set to be the biggest thing the world has ever seen. Bye Bye Badman is the most poignant call to arms song that I've ever heard and back in the late 80's would have brought side A to a mouth watering, lemon juice in your eyes storming close.
Elizabeth My Dear, sung to the tune of Scarborough Fair, lasts barely a minute, and it's fairly clear where the boys stand on the monarchy, with Squire's guitar letting go a `bullet' as the song fades and segues into Sugar Spun Sister which, quite frankly is one of the happiest, most glorious songs ever written. Made Of Stone was the single that initially just blew me away and made me realise that my days of being a heavy metal rebel were numbered. I'd discovered melodies and there was no turning back. Shoot You Down, is a chill out classic and shows no sign of what is to come, mainly a blistering, 2 track tour de force of musical excellence. This Is The One is so completely brilliant it would be the `one'. Except it isn't, because I Am The Resurrection is. 8 minutes of musical heaven. It takes 3 verses until the chorus comes in and by the time it does your champing at the bit to let it scream out of your lungs as loud and as powerful as you can. The ultimate feel good break up song, you'll never feel better after screaming out - "you're a no one, nowhere washed up baby who'd look better dead". It fades out then resurrects itself before fading away for good, leaving all concerned with the knowledge that they rock, you rock and everyone and everything else really doesn't matter.
on 27 April 2014
Considering this was a release for Record Store Day it hardly helps promote vinyl. A truly awful pressing...covered in dust and clearly quality control is lacking at the pressing plant. Although this release was relatively cheap for modern vinyl, I would willingly have paid more for a better quality pressing. I have returned for a refund...vinyl fans steer clear!!
on 16 January 2016
What can be said about this album...well its joint with The Clash album 'London Calling' as my favourite album of all time. The songs are completely timeless. From the opening bars of 'I wanna be adored' right through to the blistering finale of 'I am the resurrection', this album oozes genius. The songwriting of Brown and Squire has never been bettered than here ( okay, they wrote some genius B sides too, and a half hearted second album). I seriously play this album at least once a week - it's become a ritual. If you have never heard this album, I strongly urge you to, if you already love this album the way I do, then you will know what I'm talking about!!
on 26 April 2014
This is not a rating of the music. This is and will always be a great album, but the condition of this "new" Sony vinyl deserves 1 star or less if I could give it. Just like the previous reviewer, the record contained dust all over it after opening. Mine does not skip but does have a lot of surface noise, and this is after having been VPI cleaned twice. This is a pathetic excuse for something in "new" condition. Approach this vinyl with caution.
on 29 September 2001
The Stone Roses is arguably the finest debut album ever, and in mine and many others' opinion one of the finest albums full stop.
This imported version contains TWO extra tracks - Elephant Stone and Fools Gold. Whilst these extra tracks are both truly remarkable, in fact in the case of Fools Gold simply astonishing, I think most people who would compare the two versions of the album would say that the additions leave the record less balanced.
As a collection of 100% great tracks, it's better as there are more, but the running of the album is thrown slightly. Elephant Stone cuts into the original 3-track tour de force that opens the album, and Fools Gold comes along in the shadow of the gigantic I Am The Resurrection.
My advice to anyone still yet to buy the album would be to get the original 11 track version, and then buy Turns Into Stone for Elephant Stone, Fools Gold, and array of other 24 carat tracks, because some part of the beauty and the undenial classic appeal of the album lies in its flawless running order.