If you are new to the story of the The Stone Roses, this is a fine starting point. It's an accurate, well researched description of the rise, fall and then resurrection of one of the very finest British bands. The problem is, if you aren't new to the subject, and if like me you were looking forward to reading something new about the Roses, you'll likely be disappointed.
As a life long fan of the band and as someone who was just about old enough to enjoy the unbelievable summer of 1989, I did look forward to reading this new piece of work on the band. The author had a tough act to follow - John Robb has already written the definitive work on the Roses. As a friend of the band and as someone who was right at the centre of what was happening at that time, Robb perfectly describes not only the rise of the Roses but also the chaos and the euphoric atmosphere that encapsulated that whole era. It's this colour that War and Peace is lacking in my opinion.
It's written in a very matter of fact way at times. Much is missed about the formation of the classic line up for example. The author also misses the essence of what was really happening around Manchester at the time, just how bad the UK music scene was when the Roses changed it for good and what it felt like to be around the band at that time. The house / e / hacienda revolution that marked that time in Manchester doesn't get much of a mention and actually it's really important in the story of the Roses. The reader is delivered a load of facts, there's not much wrong, but it lacks the warmth and atmosphere that Robb provides.
It really isn't a bad book by any means though. Hours of interviews with friends and associates provide a few new insights into subjects such as the signing of the infamous contract and there is some great stuff about the early recordings with Martin Hannett. There's also a bit of an insight late on into what it was like for Robbie Maddix to step into the shoes of the greatest drummer of his generation. A few previously unseen photos are always a bonus as well!
All in all, it's a really solid piece of work and one that clearly has had hours and hours of hard work poured into it. But in the end, this is only an above average rendition of an amazing story about a once in a lifetime band.