The Stone Roses is the debut album by English rock band the Stone Roses, released in May 1989 by Silvertone Records. The group recorded most of the album at Battery Studios in London with producer John Leckie. Although The Stone Roses was not an immediate success, its standing improved significantly among most critics, many of whom have since voted it high in polls of the greatest albums of all time.
Based in Manchester, where the so-called Madchester movement was centred, The Stone Roses formed in 1983 and released a handful of singles on several different labels. The Stone Roses recorded their self-titled debut album with John Leckie, a producer who had worked with Pink Floyd on Meddle. It was released by Silvertone, a division of Zomba Records created to work with "new rock" acts. The album was recorded primarily at Battery Studios in London, with additional sessions at Konk and Rockfield Studios.
The band played several high-profile gigs supporting the album, including one at what was regarded as the centre of the "baggy"/"Madchester" scene, Manchester's The Haçienda nightclub. Andrew Collins wrote in NME: "Bollocks to Morrissey at Wolverhampton, to The Sundays at The Falcon, to PWEI at Brixton – I'm already drafting a letter to my grandchildren telling them that I saw The Stone Roses at the Haçienda." The Stone Roses' 1990 Spike Island gig, organised by the band and attended by over 27,000 fans, also holds a formidable reputation. Critics have frequently labelled it the 'Woodstock of the baggy generation'. Their eponymous debut brought them nationwide success and soon the band, along with fellow Madchester group Happy Mondays, were perceived as one of the key acts of the baggy scene.
The Stone Roses has been associated with rave culture and dance music, although Angus Baiey from The Quietus argued that it was a 1960s-inspired jangle pop album featuring little or no influence of dance beats or grooves, with the exception of "Fools Gold". According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the rhythm section of bassist Mani and drummer Reni played in a manner that was merely suggestive of dance rhythms, while Ian Brown dispassionately sang lyrics expressing arrogant sentiments such as "I Wanna Be Adored" and "I Am the Resurrection". In the opinion of Spin critic Andrew Unterberger, it sounded more like "an exercise in rock classicism", featuring accessible melodies like those of the Beatles and resonant guitars similar to the Byrds, along with "the cheeky (and quintessentially British) humor of the Smiths" and "the self-fulfilling arrogance of the Sex Pistols". The melody for the song "Elizabeth My Dear" was appropriated from the English traditional ballad "Scarborough Fair".
As with most Stone Roses releases, the cover displays a work by John Squire. It is a Jackson Pollock-influenced piece titled "Bye Bye Badman," which makes reference to the May 1968 riots in Paris. The cover was named by Q magazine as one of "The 100 Best Covers of All Time." In the accompanying article, Squire said: "Ian [Brown] had met this French man when he was hitching around Europe, this bloke had been in the riots, and he told Ian how lemons had been used as an antidote to tear gas. Then there was the documentary—a great shot at the start of a guy throwing stones at the police. I really liked his attitude." This story was also the inspiration for the lyrics to the song of the same name. The background of the piece is based on the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. The band visited the causeway while playing a gig at the University of Ulster in Coleraine.
Released in May 1989,The Stone Roses received little attention from both consumers and critics in the United Kingdom, with the exception of NME and Melody Maker, who were covering the Madchester music scene at the time.Bob Stanley from Melody Maker called it "godlike" and said the foundation of the music was John Squire's guitar playing, which he deemed "beautifully flowing, certainly psychedelic, there are elements of Hendrix (especially on 'Shoot You Down') and Marr (check out the fade to 'Bye Bye Badman'), but the rest is the lad's own work". In Q, Peter Kane was less favourable and felt that The Stone Roses was a promising album weighed down by "strangely monotone production", while NME journalist Jack Barron wrote that it was merely "quite good"; the latter magazine later ranked it as the second best record of 1989 in their year-end list.The Stone Roses received more mainstream exposure after the band's debut on Top of the Pops in November 1989. Months later in The Village Voice, American critic Robert Christgau wrote that the group was "overhyped" and no different than the numerous indie bands in the United States. "They're surprisingly 'eclectic.' Not all that good at it, but eclectic", he wrote. "Though they have their moments as songwriters—'Bye Bye Badman' always stops me, and 'I Want to Be Adored' sums them up—their music is about sound, fingers lingering over the strings and so forth."
Since then, The Stone Roses has been acclaimed by critics and musicians alike, being viewed as an even more important album than when it was first released, as reflected by its high ranking in polls of the greatest albums of all time.Rolling Stone's David Fricke later called it "a blast of magnificent arrogance, a fusion of Sixties-pop sparkle and the blown-mind drive of U.K. rave culture", while BBC Music's Chris Jones said it served as a peerless testament to the fusion of rock and dance music inspired by "working class hedonism" at the end of the 1980s.Mojo strongly recommended its 1999 reissue to listeners and wrote that the album "set the tone for rock music in the '90s", while in Q, Ian Gittins wrote that with the album's "mercurial, timeless anthems", the band became "spokesmen for their generation". Bernadette McNulty of The Daily Telegraph believed the 2009 reissue polished the band's bold mix of discordant psychedelic sounds and clever dance beats, but that its legacy as a fabled debut album was enhanced more by the darker, masculine music that followed in Manchester during the 1990s. Zeth Lundy of The Boston Phoenix said it "has been deified by such dubious tastemakers as the NME and Oasis's Noel Gallagher — and the rest of us really like it too".PopMatters critic Jennifer Makowsky argued that "the psychedelic, drug-powered pop songs on the album earned the band a well-earned place in alternative music history."
On the other hand, American music journalist Jim DeRogatis felt The Stone Roses had been highly overrated by critics, pointing to a "lame retread disco beat" and "oh-so-dated" guitars, while Neil Kulkarni from The Quietus said its first three songs were enjoyable but preceded a "right barrel-load of shite afterwards". Fiona Sturges of The Independent found Brown's singing and songwriting remarkably poor and objected to the editors of NME voting The Stone Roses the best British album of all time. In an article on overhyped records for The Guardian, Peter Robinson said that The Stone Roses was "an average rock album – lyrically pedestrian and with a sonic policy swerving from the play-safe to the over-indulgent". After the record was voted the second-best ever in a UK public poll, Channel 4 broadcast a presentation of the results in which three of the presenters—musician Bob Geldof, critic Paul Gambaccini, and artist Justine Frischmann—were critical of the album's inclusion in the top 100 and attributed it to the generation of listeners who voted rather than the record's quality.
According to Acclaimed Music, The Stone Roses is the 58th most ranked record on critics' all-time lists. In 1997, it was named the second greatest album of all time in a "Music of the Millennium" poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 1998, Q magazine readers placed it at number 4, while in 2000 the same magazine placed it at number 29 in its list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever." In 2004, the album was voted the best British album of all time in The Observer's poll of 100 musicians and critics. In 2006, Q placed the album at number 5 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s". In 2008, it was named the fifth "greatest British album ever" by a Q magazine/HMV poll.
In 2000, it received the "greatest album ever" award at the NME Premier Awards show, and in 2006, the album topped the magazine's "100 Greatest British Albums Ever" list. In summer 2009, NME released a special issue about the album's 20th anniversary, labelling it as "the greatest debut album ever". In 2005, Spin magazine ranked it 78 on its list of the "100 greatest albums of the past twenty years." In the same year, when revising the "500 Greatest Albums" for book format, Rolling Stone included it as one of eight new entries, placing it at number 497, and in a 2012 revised list, the album placed at number 498. In 2006, Time named it one of "The All-TIME 100 Albums". In 2003, Pitchfork named it the 39th best album of the 1980s. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 28 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".
In 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums and NME organised a poll of which, 40,000 people worldwide voted for the 100 best albums ever and The Stone Roses was placed at No. 7 on the list. In 2010, The Stone Roses won the Mojo Classic Album award. Upon announcing the award, Mojo noted how the band 'managed to sum up an era and to create a piece of work that also transcends the time in which it was made', before asking 'Is there a more iconic British album of the last two decades?' In 2013 The Flaming Lips and friends honoured the record with The Time Has Come to Shoot You Down… What a Sound, a reworking of the entire album. In 2014, the staff of PopMatters included the album on their list of "12 Essential Alternative Rock Albums from the 1980s". According to the book on the album from the 33⅓ series, it has sold over 4 million copies worldwide.
In 1999, on the 10th anniversary of its release, a two-disc special edition re-release of The Stone Roses reached No. 9 on the UK albums chart. In 2007 a remastered version was released by Silvertone as a Carbon Neutral Entertainment CD (with tips about Energy Saving). In 2009, the remastered 20th anniversary edition was released in several formats: the standard 11-track album (with the bonus track "Fools Gold") on CD and 12" vinyl LP (the LP version includes a bonus one-sided 7" single featuring the unreleased demo track "Pearl Bastard"); a deluxe edition 2CD/1DVD set, featuring the album on disc one, a 15-track collection of unreleased demos titled The Lost Demos on disc two, and a DVD featuring a 1989 live performance titled Live in Blackpool; and a 3CD/3LP/1DVD collector's edition box set, which features:
The remastered 11-track album on one CD and one LP
The Lost Demos on one CD
The B-sides on one CD
Live in Blackpool DVD
A 48-page booklet, containing unpublished photos and new interviews
Six 12"-sized art prints featuring John Squire's original single artwork
A lemon-shaped USB stick, featuring digital files of:
The album, the demos, and the B-sides
Five previously unreleased "backwards tracks"
Six music videos
Up at Sawmills: The Making of Fools Gold documentary video
^Music of the Millennium. Episode 4. 29 January 1998. Channel 4. Bob Geldof: "Number two? Forget it, that's ridiculous. They shouldn't be in there: they have a decent album – good luck to them – but that's preposterous...it's, hey, a generation thing, man." Justine Frischmann: "Isn't it?" Paul Gambaccini: "Exactly. This tells you who voted, more than anything else."