When Coachella announced it’s 2013 headliners I immediately shouted for joy at the prospect of seeing Ian Brown, Mani, Reni and John Squire perform “I Am The Resurrection” LIVE! “THE STONE ROSES,” I tweeted repeatedly out of excitement! I jumped out of my chair and jumped out into the office looking for someone to high five. No one was there.
At lunch, I mentioned it to one of my dayjob co-workers and they were like, “Cooool, The Rolling Stones!”
I sought a high-five from family, friends, lovers, policemen, someone dressed like the Statue of Liberty holding a Tax sign, the street dog lady…everytime I was met with the same slightly tilted head…as if perhaps a memory of these so-called Stone Rosers would roll into place like a marble puzzle. Nothing. Blank stares.
I took to the Internet in search of high-five and instead found a tumblr simply called, “Who are The Stone Roses?” which is just an infinite (and infinitely depressing) collection of tweets of people angrily expressing their Coachella confusion.
My blood began to boil. “How could an entire generation…groups of generations! be sooo lost?”, I thought. Do America’s youth have no awareness or respect for Madchester? The Second Summer of Love? Acid House? The birth of rave culture and the gloriously unique brand of psychedelic Brit-pop that accompanied it? The answer apparently, repeatedly seems to be no. I am heartbroken because in the historical timeline of psychedelia and party music, The Stones Roses loom large.
In the late 80s, early 90s when the first wave of American Alt Rock was changing the aural landscape and laying the foundations for a grunge tsunami, the UK scene had become exhausted by it’s own perpetually gloomy, mopey vibes and in a eureka moment discovered “ecstasy.” What LSD was for the hippie culture that gave rise to Woodstock and the youth movement of the 60s, Ecstasy was to Acid House and the 90s. Except, where hippie culture went worldwide…Rave culture really took root in the UK and Europe and really informed the mainstream. Towards the end of our American fascination with flannel and heroin and Reality Biting, this rave culture thing eventually made it’s way stateside. However, here, it remained fairly anonymous and underground.
The Stone Roses, like Happy Mondays and Primal Scream, were a huge sensation. The Roses’ performance of “Fool’s Gold” on Top of the Pops landed them on the Top 10 chart and their album was quickly heralded one of the greatest British pop albums ever. Where kids nowadays know who…say, Bruno Mars is…back then The Stone Roses were possibly that popular. While maintaining a certain level of “alternative” cred. While being completely surly and off their heads most of the time. So, perhaps they were closer in tenor to Nirvana. But, in America, as Kurt Cobain was bitterly taking interviews with Rolling Stone, The Stone Roses‘ Ian Brown was megalomaniacally proclaiming his band “the most important group in the world,” years before Oasis would claim the same. (Incidentally, a 16 year old Liam Gallagher attended a 1988 Stone Roses show, which most definitely informed Oasis‘ direction.)
All that aside…The Stone Roses had truly epic tracks that EVERYONE should be aware of and memorize in time to howl collectively at the desert moon. In order to facilitate that process I’ll give you a 3 song primer. After which, you’re on your own…and if you don’t keep looking and still find yourself asking, “Who are The Stone Roses?” I can only quote the principal from Billy Madison by saying, “I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.”
I Wanna Be Adored