1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 337

The Stone Roses, by The Stone Roses
Suggested by Neil Hodgkinson

Every year, at Christmas, in every household in the country, a battle rages. A battle with four factions, as defined as those that quest for the Iron Throne. A battle that’s raged for many years, yet one that can never truly see a victor, as fresh faces and minds choose their sides and join the collective war effort.

I’m talking, of course, about the Battle of the Chocolate Tubs.

(I nearly went with the War of the Roses, but I believe that’s been taken.)

Each year, folk rally around their chosen banner of the four major players. There’s House Celebrations, House Heroes, House Roses, and House Quality Street. Diplomacy and fisticuffs are widespread in the debate as to which is the undisputed leader of the holidays, with much blood spilled on both sides. And by blood, I do of course mean strawberry fondant filling.

Each faction’s individual fortunes has peaked and troughed down the years. The Eighties saw an almost undisputed reign for House Quality Street over the marketed-as-a-thank-you-gift House Roses, with both the other heavyweights a mere twinkle in a confectioner’s eye. Nowadays, however, I’d offer that House Quality Street is a distant fourth to the other houses, due to it’s almost inedible chocolate and cloying perfumed sweet centres.

Personally, I fight for House Heroes, as it blends the perfect Cadbury chocolate with the marquee names from the brand’s wider range. They tend to meddle with the format with a cavalier attitude, which gives me pause, but I’ll still stand toe-to-toe with my Heroic brethren on the front line of any battles to come.

Cadbury Roses, I find, are a dual-edged sword. They have the nectar of Cadbury Chocolate, but their fillings feel dated and their packaging is both baffling and twee. I enjoy them, but they don’t feel like The Real Thing.

Rather like The Stone Roses, I feel.

The Stone Roses, a stalwart of the late Eighties and early Nineties Madchester sound, are certainly a classic band. And their debut self-titled release, which I’m reviewing today, is strong and memorable. It’s packed with hits of the day, from the hypnotic She Bangs the Drums to the cascading Waterfall to the building and exultant (and standout) I Am The Resurrection. And the sound is certainly iconic, laying the foundations for Britpop for years to come. You can feel the album’s pedigree oozing through the speakers, and any true fans of that genre will hear pure notes of their favourite bands, be they Blur or Suede or The Verve or, most notably, Oasis.

They have a quiet, laid back take to jangle-pop, with echoing layers of vocals designed to draw you into their orbit and keep you swaying along. It’s a surprisingly beautiful sound, but it lacks moments of real drive or power. It’s has a dream-like quality, which is pleasant, but as with any dream, the memory fades quickly once you wake up.

This album has to get a decent score, as it’s the blueprint for an entire scene. Yet I don’t think I can offer more than 6/10. Like Cadbury’s Roses I feel The Stone Roses are a strong choice that’s been eclipsed by other confections. I’d pop a couple now and again, but a whole box would make me queasy.

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