I can feel the earth begin to move
I hear my needle hit the groove
And spiral through another day
I hear my song begin to say
Kiss me where the sun don’t shine
The past was yours
But the future’s mine
You’re all out of time
The Stone Roses – ‘She Bangs The Drums’ (1989)
Yet again, the press are reporting this morning that the Stone Roses are to reform. According to the NME website, this time vocalist Ian Brown and (non-macho) guitar god John Squire finally resolved their decade and a half long feud at the recent funeral of bassist Mani’s mum. Mani himself, who managed a supergroup free transfer into Primal Scream when the Roses split, has apparently long been well up for it. It seems that all they have to do now is persuade genius drummer Reni to get back on board and a “megabucks reunion” is in the offing.
However, the NME‘s report is originally from that well-known bastion of responsible and truthful reporting, The Sun – so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not entirely convinced by it. And anyway, we all know that it’s never quite the same when bands reform, especially if you were a huge fan first time round…
The Stone Roses were a remarkable band, it is true. Sounding unlike anyone else (before or since – and, believe me, bands have tried), they have influenced, and continue to influence, countless musicians and artists over the years – and they are still rightly considered one of the greatest bands this country has produced in the last three decades, possibly ever. They were one of those rare groups who were much, much more than just the sum of their parts: at their unstoppable best they were an electric, exhilarating, uplifting energy rush that pulled in ravers and indie kids alike.
As I type this, I’m listening to the Roses’ 1989 self-titled début album on headphones. It still sounds as if it was recorded yesterday, although it has been part of the soundtrack to my life for more than twenty years. It’s no exaggeration to say that this band changed my life when I discovered them in my early teens – when I first heard their epic dance/psychedelic rock crossover single Fool’s Gold on its release, it suddenly dawned on me that there was actually so much more music out there that wasn’t the chart crap I’d been listening to up until that point.
I wasn’t the only one. The Stone Roses blew the collective minds of an entire generation of British music fans with their first LP, then left us breathlessly hanging on for five years until the controversial release of The Second Coming (actually a much better album than many snooty critics will ever give it credit for), just about survived Squire leaving the band and some serious drug abuse, and finally messily imploded at the 1996 Reading Festival. By the time the band eventually split in the October of that year, many fans breathed a sigh of relief – this wasn’t the Roses we’d all fallen in love with seven years earlier any more.
The success (or otherwise) of some band members’ solo careers aside, the one question that always seems to be asked by journalists is whether they’ve set aside their differences enough to work together again. Despite the fact that Squire, in particular, has always said he would never reform the Roses, hopeful rumours of such an eventuality have circulated on and off for years – and, personally, I suspect today’s tabloid gossip is just more of the same.
Much as I still love the Roses beyond reason – they were a formative musical influence in my life, after all – I would hate to see them reform. Seriously. They all do their own stuff now, some better than others (Ian Brown quite clearly got custody of most of the talent in the break up…), and, twenty-odd years down the line, they’re all different people. Older too – and middle-aged men reliving their rock ‘n’ roll youth is not an attractive prospect, really. I want to remember them at their incendiary best, when they were young and fierce and impassioned. I don’t want my memories tainted by an ill-advised reformation-for-the-money type thing, because that’s not what it’s all about.
The past is theirs – and my memories mine…