The Stone Roses
1994 – Geffen
It feels odd that as a 90s anglophile, I never really had an opinion on the greatest musical question of my times – is the Stone Roses Second Coming any good? I had a copy of this, packed firmly away. I probably listened to it, but maybe I didn’t. It is reviewed in the old Mojo I’m going through so I thought- let’s tackle this shit.
Before I do – I love that first Stone Roses album. I don’t listen to it all the time, but when I do, there are moments when I think it could be the greatest album ever made. There is certainly so much about it that is special. I also loved various best of collections, as they had some incredible songs that followed. I come with the expectations the whole world had in 1994. How do you top perfect? The answer is – you can’t. And they didn’t.
A lot have been written about this album’s troubled genesis. The legal battles, the drink and drugs, and so much more. Oh well.
All the big reasons this album sucks remain. God, it is long. Very long. The rush of the new is gone, and the band sounds pretty repetitive in places. Lyrically in particular, Ian Brown has not moved in 6 years. John Squire brings some incredible work, but sometimes he brings nothing and is just doing the same old Squire jamming.
That said, I like what this band does, even if they aren’t at full strength. The full 11 minute version of Breaking Into Heaven sounds incredible. John Squire has so many ideas in just that one song, it opens the album on a promising note. Those other famous songs like Ten Story Love Song still kicks ass, an anthem for the ages.
But there is some filler. Brown’s lyrics seem like a retread, the wide eyed optimism seems naive and simplistic. Add to that songs that all need a good two minutes lopped off means that this album drags along. The first album was 11 tracks in less than 50 minutes. This is 12 tracks in 70+ minutes.
But there I am, comparing it to that first album like everyone else. Which is unfair, because they certainly didn’t want to remake that record. You can feel them wanting to make something weightier, and even more inclusive to a large audience. They also wanted to make songs that fill bigger venues. And they were probably on different and better drugs. They called the album friggin Second Coming.
I cant help it, but half this album is just plain boring. A song like Tears is just a long jam with some lovely moments probably, if you saw it live. But its just an indulgent mess. Theres 40 great minutes in here. Non singles like How Do You Sleep bristle with youth, vigour and spirit. Some of those minutes are truly great.
The other thing is just, the world passed them by. The sheer number of great British records released between 1989 and 1994 meant that this album was just old hat.
So. Second Coming. It is mostly harmless. None of it is bad. But when you made one of the greatest albums of all time, you have to add to the legacy. This album just didn’t do a good enough job of that.