(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
Soft drifted snow
I'd like to know
Why she hates
All that she does
But she gives
It all that she's got
Until the sky turns green
The grass is several shades of blue
Every member of parliament trips on glue
Until the sky turns green
And the grass is several shades of blue
Every member of parliament trips on glue
It takes all these things and all our time
Till my sugar spun sister's happy
With this love of mine
It'll take all these things and oh much more
For fifteen or more
But my guts
Can't take many more
Are stuck to my jeans
And she knows, she knows
What this must mean
She wakes up with the sun
She asks me 'what is all the fuss ?'
As she gave me more than she thought she should
She wakes up with the sun
I think 'what have I done ?'
As I gave her more than I thought I would
It takes all these things and all my time
Till my sugar spun sister's happy
With this love of mine
Yeah yeah yeah
The candyfloss girl
The sticky fingered boy
Oh that sister of mine
Squire / Brown
Squire / Brown
John Squire (guitar)
Ian Brown (vocals)
Gary Mounfield (bass)
Alan Wren (drums, backing vocals)
The Stone Roses (3.25)
The Stone Roses (10th Anniversary Edition) (3.26)
First live performance:
Liverpool Mardi Gras (11th August 1986)
In an interview with Stone Roses website I Am Without Shoes in January 2001, Mani claimed that 'Angel of Harlem' by U2 was a rip off of (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister. However, Angel of Harlem - from U2's 1988 'Rattle And Hum' album - was released before (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister (1). (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister was debuted live in August 1986 at the Mardi Gras in Liverpool and for Mani's claim to be accurate, U2 would have had to have heard a live recording, or somehow heard a demo of the track in advance. With the assassination of the Queen taking place at the end of the preceding song (Elizabeth My Dear), this track opens brightly musically, almost as if to herald a new dawn. 'Pretty Flamingo' by Manfred Mann is a reference point here (and so, too, on Angel of Harlem). From the same era as this Manfred Mann hit, one could possibly find inspiration for the candyfloss girl, 'Sugar Sugar' by The Archies. The most successful hit for The Archies, this was one of the most popular songs of the 'bubblegum pop' genre that flourished from 1968 to 1972.
Sugar, ah honey honey
You are my candy girl
And you've got me wanting you
Honey, ah sugar sugar
You are my candy girl
And you've got me wanting you
The Archies, Sugar Sugar (1969)
Left: Pretty Flamingo (1966) by Manfred Mann.
Right: Sugar Sugar (1969) by The Archies.
(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister appears to be about a prostitute (2) who "hates all that she does" but gives "all that she's got"; this builds on the characterization of the figure whose dock's "not a holy shrine". A hallucinogenic landscape reveals the unattainable converse conditions that would have to be met (green sky / blue grass / Parliament on glue) in order for the narrator to seal this love. The opening plays with sugar/snow metaphor - "Her hair / Soft drifted snow / Death white..." - and seems derivative of the book of Revelation:
"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire."
(Revelation 1: 14)
The narrator of the song (as with She Bangs The Drums) seems to be a witness to the Glorious Resurrection ("She wakes up with the sun...").
Top (left - right):
'The Joshua Tree' (March 1987) by U2. The album features the band's exploration of roots rock, with their music exhibiting influences from blues-rock, folk rock, country music, and gospel music. Lyrically, The Joshua Tree reflects the band's fascination with America.
'Nevermind' (September 1991) by Nirvana. 1991 was also the year of the invasion of 'Grunge'. Grunge effectively began its decline when Kurt Cobain committed suicide in April 1994. Following this event, the pendulum swung back to Britain, where 'Britpop' was about to take off.
'Loveless' (November 1991) by My Bloody Valentine. Recorded over a two-year period between 1989 and 1991 in nineteen recording studios, this ethereal release was a landmark work of the shoegazing genre. Lead vocalist and guitarist Kevin Shields, a latter-day Brian Wilson in his obsessiveness to achieve his desired sound for the record, experimented with a range of techniques, such as guitars strummed with a tremolo bar, sampled drum loops, and meticulously obscured vocals. Loveless was not followed up, with Shields content to sit back and watch his cultural capital accumulate, safe in the knowledge that the band's hallowed seat in the sonic pantheon was secure. Shoegazing bands stood relatively still during live performances, whilst concentrating on their effects pedals on the floor, hence the idea that they were gazing at their shoes. The shoegazing sound is typified by significant use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blend into the creative noise of the guitars.
Middle (left - right):
Achtung Baby (November 1991) by U2. Right on the cusp between the end of an old age and the start of a new, U2 reinvented itself with a pivotal record that perfectly captured the mixture of euphoria, hopefulness, and uncertainty fomented by the end of the Cold War.
'Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.' by 2Pac (February 1993). "Suede seemed like a step backwards to me. Like when us and the Mondays were written about, a lot of things seemed to be getting more and more real. Then house music broke. But Suede doing their '70s Bowie imitations took it back again. It was like London wanted something of its own. It was at that time that hip-hop and black music should have come through. To me, bands like Suede and Blur were in the way. Oasis are good but the others just got in the way." (Ian Brown speaking to Q magazine, March 1995). Just before The Stone Roses perform Made Of Stone at Asia World Arena, Hong Kong in July 2012, Ian can be heard singing: Dah-ha, dah-ha / You never thought Stone Roses would take it so far. Here, he is tweaking Juicy, a rags-to-riches chronicle by The Notorious B.I.G. (Remember Rappin' Duke ? Dah-ha, dah-ha / You never thought that hip hop would take it this far). Rappin' Duke is a 1983 hip hop novelty song by Shawn Brown performing as the Rappin' Duke. The concept of the song is that actor John Wayne (a.k.a. The Duke) is rhyming - the song's constant refrain is "dah-ha, dah-ha", a parody of the actor's distinctive laughter. Ian met Biggie Smalls in September 1995: "He was like something out of the Bible, talking in parables, and he looked like an old '20s jazz star. Some days I have to pinch myself that I met him." (NME, October 2009). Speaking to the NME in October 2009, Ian Brown urged teachers in Britain's inner cities to show their pupils biographical films by Eminem and 50 Cent: "I think all kids should be made to watch the Biggie Smalls film (Notorious), the Eminem story (8 Mile) and the 50 Cent film (Get Rich or Die Tryin')." Yes, let's force young people to watch films glorifying extreme violence, profanity and strong sexual content. That will end well. Ian's proposal of (what would effectively be) institutional conditioning through enforced exposure to these works is not unlike Alex DeLarge being coerced into getting a bit of the ol' Ludwig van lodged in his gulliver. Such soulless generational conditioning and drilled indoctrination is very much de rigueur in the fandom-oriented Shane Meadows documentary, Made of Stone. The very last shot of the film (after the credits roll), in mawkish silhouette, tells you all you need to know about this project. Throughout, we see a series of people clamouring to prove their fan credentials, so much so that some will fashion their offspring on looking like a) a band member clone b) themself c) some Frankensteinish cross-breed of the two. Just check out that brain-dead father and son Elephant Stone exchange. At times, the moronic blind devotion knows no bounds - one man regales us with the tale he told his boss, that his father-in-law had suffered a heart attack, in order to get time off to attend the Warrington gig. I'm sure anyone tuning in who has lost a loved one to a heart attack is splitting their sides at that one, pal. A deputy head teacher (who looks as if he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown at having missed out on a Warrington wristband) tells the director that he offered a permanent job to a woman he works with in exchange for a pass for the gig (Is this how permanent teaching posts in schools are being allocated, seriously ?). When this offer was declined, he then tried to exchange his car (equally zany, but just as unsuccessful). Loitering about like a feckless Quasimodo, you are almost expecting him to bewail those immortal words, 'Why was I not made of stone like thee ?'. This grating desperation to attain überfan status can easily be sourced back to the banter brothers behind the camera, Shane Meadows, and his sidekick, Mark Herbert. Exactly when did a potbelly in a Fred Perry become the Roses 'look' because I must have missed the memo on that one. I swear, if I hear that 'I had a ticket and then I didn't' Spike Island acid trip anecdote one more freaking time, I am going to have a breakdown of Arthur Fowler proportions. The Stone Roses played dates shortly after Spike Island, including Belfast and Glasgow, and toured the length and breadth of the country on their Second Coming tour, yet Shane was still not in the area for any of these shows. Just how long did this acid trip last exactly ? That whole 'kissing a posh girl and hiding a sausage butty from her while Waterfall just so happens to be playing' shtick is just as suspect. Cranking up the hyperbole machine into overdrive, the director mused in October 2013: "Obviously I don't just like the Roses - I love the Roses . . . Anything new, one song, one chord would be enough. But a new album would be incredible. One more record would be like Christmas for the rest of our lives." What definition of Christmas are you working from here mister ? With such a puppy dog disposition to the project, it is little wonder that the director is happy to film himself marvelling at a sandwich board with 'NEWIE' written on it, speculating about a new song that never actually materializes (and considering this fit for inclusion in the final edit). I have some prime Florida swampland that these two chumps might be interested in. What emerges is a film of missed opportunities, as if Meadows had a backstage pass but squandered it drinking in the beer tent. You've been given unlimited access here, don't waste half the documentary doing a fucking fan survey. I am a Stone Roses fan. I am not a fan of Stone Roses fans. The culmination of his obsequiousness comes in Amsterdam, a cut to twitter reaction (and a Sun screengrab) to an event for which the director was given Access All Areas to film. NEWSFLASH: I don't give a rat's arse what scholesrandomtwitternumber has to say about this juncture of the tour. Note the desperation to play to the Mancunian gallery in the selection of tweets here, leading with a puerile quip about Kenny Dalglish. What is air ? And why in God's name is the Breaking Into Heaven intro playing at this point ? Is some trained chimp hitting shuffle on a Stone Roses playlist here ? What is this, amateur hour ? With all evidence suggesting that the director has just emerged from a lengthy spell insulting the porcelain, we are locked in on this rotund clown for a self-serving video diary. With all the faux distress he can muster, Meadows opens with this pearl of wisdom: "So last night was Amsterdam and obviously what happened, happened." No fucking shit, Sherlock. As I emphasize here in regard to retrospective eulogizing, some folks are trying just a little too hard to portray themselves as having been 'one of the faces' back in the day. These Proustian searches range from Shane 'robbed of my Spike Island experience' Meadows building up a Warrington warm-up gig in 2012 as "[my] Spike Island" (and also finding time to shoehorn in a "Hallelujah Moment" - hitting record on an iPhone, for the uninitiated) to flashback of an 11-year-old Bradley Wiggins witnessing some sort of Max Headroom televisual hijack in his living room. Why settle for just one disc of barrel-scraping random fandom when you can have two ? The director's insatiable quest to locate the flagship Roses fan floods over onto disc two, where a heady cocktail of inebriation and fake northern accents dominate a 'fan van' feature. Much like its vehicle, this never actually manages to go anywhere. The 'highlights' include two women who used to drum on their pencil cases to the Roses, Nirvana and Green Day, and by Jove, here they are, fourteen years later, for this gig (Quite the enchanting story arc there, ladies). Raaaaaandooooom. There are two things I can be doing without in life: one is 'zany' and the other is forced jollity, and fuck me, this has both in spades. After a stream of wallies vacate the vehicle, another degenerate muses, "I know I'm getting deep, but was Elizabeth My Dear aimed at Elizabeth II or Elizabeth I ?". Everybody knows you never go full retard. You just went full retard. Elsewhere in the extras, we come to a try-hard fan living in perpetual fear that donning a tie might lead to accusations of a corporate sell-out, thus tarnishing forever his five seconds of film fame. Hold the fucking press folks, Simon skips Elizabeth My Dear ! The flow of the documentary is, at times, utterly baffling, with shoddy narrative (right down to the lack of the possessive apostrophe in captions) and inexplicable jumps at will between eras (not to mention a Stalinesque whitewashing of unfavourable band history). "Grown men will cry", reads a simpering NME review. They will when they see the ropey editing on show here. The opening caption of the 2011 press conference segment reads 'SOHO HOTEL, LONDON, 11th October 2011', showing Ian preparing to meet the band members and face the media. The press conference took place on 18th October 2011, so unless Ian was getting himself psyched up for this conference a full seven days in advance, that's a wrong caption date right from the get-go. Fucking hell, even a Stone Roses documentary spoof manages to get that one right. Another caption reads: '20TH MARCH 1989 THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE STONE ROSES (sic) DEBUT ALBUM IS RELEASED'. This is patently not March 1989, but rather, months later, after the LP has been released. This would have been clear to Meadows had he even bothered his fat arse to watch the first minute of this 1989 Transmission interview (Ian: "We didn't have an LP out...", meaning they do now !). In addition, the interviewer later asks, in a segment used by Meadows, "Well, if you're the best band in the world, why aren't you number one ?". Squire answers, "Because the record isn't out yet." The interviewer follows up with "Why wasn't your last single number one ? Why wasn't the album number one ?". Meadows is confusing Squire's answer ("Because the record isn't out yet...") to mean their debut LP, whereas Squire is referring to their new single, She Bangs The Drums. The question (Why wasn't the album number one ?") should have been an obvious indicator to Meadows that this band have indeed released their debut LP ! Why the band split is never explained. What the band did in the 15 years they were apart is never explained. How the band reunited is never explained. There are no interviews with them apart from tiny fragments of general chitchat over ancient super 8 / VHS footage. No exploration of the difficulties of rekindling a friendship after a betrayal, the nature of identity, how you define yourself over time, how the band and its members may have evolved, how no matter what happens next you are always defined by who you were for three years, over two decades ago. No exploration of the band's work, nor of the business of being in a band. Scant detail on the nature of forming a band in Britain in the '80s, or the cultural impact of the time. A 0.5 second shot of a smashed window in Hulme is as penetrating as things get on a sociological scale. Fitting as many superlatives into one sentence as is humanly possible, the director tries to articulate his excitement that his "all-time favourite band are getting back together after twenty years." Who then, was that group who toured the globe in 1995-96, footage of which features in your film ? Try fifteen years. In a brain-rotting vision of Fool's Gold - a veritable Hieronymus Bosch spectacle of comedy northerners - the pointless cutaways include an inebriated man falling asleep against an ice cream van, topless fans punching the air or spilling their lager, and some 'character' climbing a catering van (LAD !). Might as well be Newcastle on a Saturday night. Men in yellow jackets arrest people. There's no sense of an ending or any form of closure. The film just ends. I don't want to watch footage of you pair of pound shop Mitchell brothers slogging it out for the Super Banterweight Championship of the World, getting lost in your bantmobile (subtext: Shane Meadows wants you to know he is fallible. The banter brigade is in town, watch out lads). I don't want to watch footage of you editing this film in your car while tucking in to a curry (subtext: these two tubby funsters are working class hard-core fans, don't cha know ?). Next they'll be broadcasting to the world what brew they're partial to (Oh for fuck's sake. Different drinks for different...needs). The director cannot seem to decide whether he wants to make Life is Sweet (see the opening everyone-budge-up / why-are-ice-cubes-icy staged schmaltz. Go fuck a duck, kid) or A Hard Day's Night. The Stone Roses were blooming in Technicolor in their prime, exhibiting an oeuvre of Pollock paintings translated into sound. Here, their every move is presented in black and white (for 'added authenticity' and/or to obscure the aging of its key players), draining it of any life or atmosphere. For a film catered to the 'man on the street', Made of Stone assumes an excessive amount of knowledge about the band. We are half an hour in before the musicians introduce themselves to the camera as Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani (Gary Mounfield) and Reni (Alan Wren). The FM-Revolver paint incident is briefly covered. What led up to this ? What happened as a consequence ? The viewer is left completely oblivious. Begone minutiae, let's focus on how wacky the guys still are ! Made of Stone underwent several edits at the request of the band, none too impressed by a preview they were shown (begging the question, just how bad was this film before the final cut ?). Reni did not attend the premiere at Victoria Warehouse, claiming to be ill. Perhaps the exclusive preview was all he could stomach ? A load of middle-aged blokes monkey walking with bucket hats and XXL Fred Perry tops. The only "hallelujah moment" to be found among this whole sorry mess comes from hitting the eject button on your DVD player. A most revealing video interview with Meadows can be found on The Guardian website, where the director is thrown the following softball question: "In terms of story, like story threads, is this just something you pick up as you go ?". With a rabbit in the headlights stare, Meadows responds, "What do you mean, story threads ?", further adding, "I don't ultimately know what I'm gonna end up making." Your honor, I rest my case.
'Suede' (March 1993) by Suede became the fastest-selling debut album in British music history, immediately going to number one on the UK album chart, and winning the Mercury Music Prize in 1993. This was a key record in Britpop's inception. The band lost guitarist Bernard Butler in 1994 and were temporarily pushed to the sidelines, but soon recovered to be among the movement's key players.
Bottom (left - right):
'Parklife' (April 1994) by Blur, the quintessential Britpop album. Blur's sound and attitude markedly defined this rekindling of British music as a new movement.
'Definitely Maybe' (August 1994) by Oasis, which became the fastest-selling British debut album ever. John Squire later described watching Oasis' debut appearance on Top Of The Pops in 1994, with 'Shakermaker', as a moment of realisation that Oasis had taken on the Roses' mantle. Although not being particularly impressed with the song, Squire felt that the band 'looked right'. With such a strong focus on the Stone Roses-Oasis changing of the guard, many commentators often overlook that the Roses' crown was stolen three years prior to the release of this Oasis album, by U2.
'Different Class' (October 1995) by Pulp. The Pulp song, 'Sorted for E's & Wizz', was inspired by The Stone Roses at Spike Island and neatly encapsulated the post-rave hangover of British pop. On a night out, Jarvis Cocker was speaking to a woman who had been to Spike Island, whose main recollection of the day was people walking around saying, "Everybody sorted for E's and Wizz ?". The single caused controversy over its description of a teenager going to a rave "somewhere in a field in Hampshire", consuming drugs ("E's and Wizz" refers to Ecstasy and Speed). Furthermore, the single's CD sleeve contained instructions on how to make a paper wallet to hold drugs, prompting tabloid condemnation from media, oblivious to its portayal of the disintegrating festival come-down. On which note, in August 1990, Fierce Recordings issued a Spike Island 7" EP, with a 'bag of grass'. The 7" featured fan interviews/crowd noises and PA announcements/post performance fireworks from the festival, with an accompanying cellophane bag. The selection of treats enclosed included grass (from backstage) and a candy cigarette.
A Hot Press feature from March 2002 credits The Stone Roses with kicking off 'the Madchester revolution' (3), but their legacy should not be confined to such a narrow capacity. They were the blueprint for Oasis (4) and integral to the reinvention of U2, a band who went on to become the biggest in the world. The Stone Roses' 1989 debut had a lightning rod effect in this era.
"They took The Stone Roses and Mondays LPs with them into the studio and came out with Achtung Baby."
Ian Brown speaking about U2 to Hot Press, March 2002. (5)
'Achtung Baby' was released two years after Bono announced the band would have to "go away for a while and dream it all up again", following the mixed reception of 1988's 'Rattle and Hum'. Brown goes on to argue that U2 realised musical potential within themselves in no small part through exposure to these LPs (6), but his assessment will also have been based, to some degree, on the rejuvenated spiritual quality of the Irish act (7). U2, in one sense, created the follow-up to The Stone Roses' debut LP that the Roses' themselves failed to deliver in the early 1990s. In a musical context, this landmark U2 LP was the Second Coming.
Left: On the track 'In God's Country', from 'The Joshua Tree', Bono dreamed that he had seen a desert rose. This vision was to materialise, as it was to be a band who took their name from a desert rose that would provide the inspiration for U2's sonic re-birth at the turn of the decade (The Mancunian heirs to The Stone Roses would also share their name with a desert feature). In 1987, Squire & Brown were beckoning a surge from Lady Justice; across the Atlantic, Bono's dream envisioned a dishevelled Liberty. Imagining America as a desert rose, the singer pokes holes in the symbol of American virtue, a siren whose dress is torn in ribbons and in bows.
Right: Desert Rose is a name given to specimens of Gypsum, Barite, Celestine and other minerals that form this particular rosette shape. The rosette crystal habit tends to occur when the crystals form in arid sandy conditions, when the mineral precipitates from the groundwater, with sandy inclusions giving the distinctive texture. This Gypsum specimen was found at the Inanamas Oasis in Algeria.
(1) Mani was correct about U2 drawing inspiration from Begging You on 'Discothèque', for their 'Pop' album (March 1997), however. Speaking to I Am Without Shoes, Mani recalls his conversation with Bono: "I was speaking to Bono about that and he said (adopts Irish accent) 'Well you've got to take from somewhere, haven’t you ?'"
(2) This reading is supported by Ian's gesticulations during the performance of this song at Manchester Hacienda on 27th February 1989.
(3) 'Madchester' was a term given to the late 1980s / early 1990s part-trippy-part-hippie Manchester music scene, in which The Stone Roses never felt entirely comfortable. Other 'Madchester' bands included The Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans and electronic music outfits such as 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald. Madchester music was a fusion of indie rock, psychedelia and dance, in many instances the product of collaboration between guitar-based groups and dance music producers. Producers such as Paul Oakenfold, Martin Hannett, Andrew Weatherall and Stephen Hague had a significant impact upon the Madchester scene, frequently incorporating elements of the mid-tempo 'Balearic' dance style associated with Ibiza nightclubs at that time. The Madchester scene was marked by an influx of drug culture into the city (predominantly Ecstasy) that helped fuel the rise of some of the most popular dance music clubs of the time, such as Fac 51 Haçienda. The Haçienda was run by Factory Records record label impresario Tony Wilson, whose label signed many of the artists associated with the Madchester scene, such as The Happy Mondays and New Order. 'Madchester' effectively happened around The Stone Roses without them being an active part of it. Speaking to Mojo magazine in Autumn 2001, Squire expressed his dissatisfaction at the Roses' association with the scene: "I was getting sick of the whole 'Madchester' thing. I felt like we were flogging something for somebody, but I didn't know what it was or who they were. A lifestyle, I suppose. An attitude." Ian Brown, speaking to Uncut magazine in February 1998, was heavily critical of the 'Madchester' roster of acts:
"I liked the Mondays, that was it. Inspiral Carpets were rubbish to me, James were rubbish. The Charlatans were rubbish. They used to support us, but they were from Northwich in Cheshire, not Manchester. They had another singer, before Tim (Burgess). And then Steve Harrison, their manager came and went, 'We've found this kid, he's like you. He's like a young version of you.' Me family still crack up where they see Tim Burgess; he's still there, inne ? Stuck in that thing. I've never gone onstage and thought I was someone else, but they have. We didn't want to be associated with 'Madchester' because it was a money-making thing and we didn't believe in it."
(Ian Brown speaking to Uncut magazine, February 1998)
(4) At the turn of the '90s, the North-West's two finest acts - The Stone Roses and then The La's - would hit brick walls. Very much a man who has mined his mind, Lee Mavers soon became the JD Salinger of pop, and the globe held by Ian Brown in 1990 was set to change hands once again. "We live in the shadows and we had the chance and threw it away" (from 'Hello') served as a knowingly fitting epitaph from Noel Gallagher to the stalled Roses. The latter appeared on the cover of Select Magazine in December 1995, two months after the release of (What's the Story) Morning Glory ?. In the feature, John Squire is seen 'mouthing' the words, "Hello ! Hello ! It's good to be back !", the (Gary Glitter penned) chorus from Hello, hinting that the Roses were fully aware of this connection. The previous month's Select magazine featured a track-by-track run through of (What's The Story) Morning Glory ?, in which Noel Gallagher made strong allusions to its cryptic connection with The Stone Roses. Noel Gallagher is pronounced in inviting the reader to decode such meanings, in this Select feature. Take, for example, this extract on Champagne Supernova: "There's a refrain that goes, 'Where were you when we were getting high ?' People have said to us that it's our message to The Stone Roses...". The opening of Hey Now ! is a Driving South synopsis: "I hitched a ride with my soul by the side of the road. Just as the sky turned black.", while Don't Look Back in Anger has concrete links with The Stone Roses' debilitating hiatus. Noel has since stated in interviews that Sally in this song refers to Sally Cinnamon. Thus, "So Sally can wait, she knows it's too late as we're walking on by" can easily be interpreted as Oasis overtaking their Mancunian mentors ('Sally'). Liam Gallagher was responsible for this addition to the song. As Noel explains on the bonus DVD ('Lock the Box') that accompanies the 'Stop the Clocks' retrospective: "I was doing it in the soundcheck and the 'So Sally...' bit, I wasn't singing that ... and he (Liam) says, "Were you singing 'So Sally can wait ?', and I said, 'No.' And he said, 'Well you should do.'" Interestingly, Noel is reluctant to reveal what he was originally singing for this line. Given the song's debt to Mavers, one suggestion I would put forward is that he was toying with the words "sad Lee / sadly" (which Liam heard as "Sally"). Cast No Shadow has a strong hint of Tears. John Squire would cast a shorter shadow with every passing day; as he faced the sun, he cast no shadow. As the sun began to set on the Roses, Oasis would dutifully dedicate Cast No Shadow to Squire in April 1996, in the wake of his departure from the band.
Top left: Ian with an inflatable globe at Spike Island, 27th May 1990. The bassline intro to I Wanna Be Adored was rumbling when this photo was taken, and Ian rolled the globe out into the crowd. This prop was given to Ian by a forward-thinking Steve Adge: "'Just hold it in your hand,' I said, 'and all the journalists next week will be saying you've got the whole world in your hand. And they did.'" (Steve Adge speaking to The Guardian, 20th May 2007).
Top middle: Noel Gallagher, Definitely Maybe shoot, 1994. Noel instilled a strong work ethic in the band, rehearsing five to seven nights a week at Manchester Boardwalk in 1992 - 93, along with relentless gigging.
Top right: Here were a Manchester act with a keen eye on North America. The Stone Roses, meanwhile, were doing a dance from afar with the States, papering over the cracks with arrogance: "America doesn't deserve us yet", declared Ian, following the cancellation of a US tour in 1990. Speaking to the NME in July 1990, the band seemed in no rush to get there: "I'm really looking forward to going over but in our own time, not just to see someone whose daughter wants to see us", said Ian. John added, "I don't see it as any sort of rock 'n' roll conquest, step up the ladder. I'd rather go to Egypt or Goa or Bali or Thailand." It is rather perplexing then, to see Ian Brown go into Scrappy-Doo mode, later claiming that John Squire's decision to leave the band somehow heartlessly deprived the singer of a long-held ambition to 'crack' America. "I feel like we never actually had a shot at America. I said, 'John, give me a shot at America, and if it don't work then sack it. I waited for you, give me a chance at America. I know what I'm doing.' But no, he didn't." (Ian Brown speaking to the NME, 3rd January 1998). Compare Ian's revisionist 'Let me at 'em' plea here, with his later not-fussed 'Artie Fufkin' dramatization of events (see further down this page), and the two portrayals don't quite balance. As for the singer's claim in the same book that "some of the best shows were in America", are you listening to the same 1995 bootlegs as me, Ian ? The early North American shows were, to my ears, the nadir of that world tour. Highlights of this North American tour included Mani slamming his bass to the floor and storming off stage in Atlanta, and a shambles of a gig in Toronto where the band had to restart Waterfall halfway through. This Toronto gig review by Fab Claxton gives a feel of the band's lack of any sort of professionalism at this time: "...the sound was horrible. So horrible, in fact, that Ian stopped Waterfall halfway through because he couldn't hear himself. That was the first (and last) time I'd ever seen a professional band stop a song and start again. I felt embarrassed for them, which is strange, 'cause Ian didn't seem to care one bit. In fact, during the chorus to She Bangs The Drums, Ian didn't even bother to sing. He just stalked around the stage shaking his tambourine. It was the most bizarre thing I'd ever seen. Here was a professional singer standing in front of a few thousand adoring fans, and he can't be arsed to sing the chorus to his own song. Which is just as good, because the other twelve songs that he did manage to sing were a shambles ... Every single person that I talked to at the show felt exactly the same way. As we all filed out of the venue after the lights came back on, murmurs of 'disgrace' and 'I can't believe we waited four years for that' could be heard all around. What a massive, massive letdown." Gareth Evans cites the cancelled June 1990 American shows as a critical missed opportunity. Had they played Madison Square Garden in New York and the LA Forum, he proposes, a wave of American success would have followed: "That was where they went wrong. They had those two gigs and they didn't play them. The gigs were sold out. If they had played there and played the simple songs from the first album, America would have loved them. But they wouldn't play. They should have gone to America, played New York and LA, and then stayed in America. They could have flown back every weekend in their own private jet if they'd wanted to." (Gareth Evans speaking to the NME in April 1996). In August 1994, Oasis's debut LP was released, and the band set sail for America that very same year. With all the urgency of a snail, The Stone Roses took six years following the release of their debut LP to set foot on American soil, and the void of impact is perhaps best symbolized by Squire's Do It Yourself artwork. Oasis, like The Stone Roses before them, however, would ultimately fail to crack America. On their final tour, the Gallagher brothers' behaviour mirrored that of the Roses, with Liam and Noel opting for seperate tourbuses, just as Ian and John had done on the Second Coming tour. The only act from the British Isles to gain a firm grip on the globe in this era were U2 (hence the Napoleonic hand-in-waistcoat pose), who transformed from a monolithic arena band into a stadium filling behemoth. Following their reunion in 2011, The Stone Roses remained as lackadaisical as ever, when it came to making an imprint on American soil. The band shunned America entirely on their 2012 tour, and only dipped their toes in the States in 2013, with a Coachella festival visit. Unsurprisingly, this performance was met by a collective American shrug. From an initial 'Who are The Stone Roses ?' current of social media following their selection as Coachella headliners (co-headlining with Blur), to instant postmortems of the band's less-than-packed closing set, a run through of material some twenty-five years old was never likely to take the place by storm. That the band had been shunning festival webcasts for the previous year did little to help their profile, nor was the move to only allow Coachella to stream a three-song 'highlights' set. When we come to 2013, someone pressing Play on the Shane Meadows documentary in selected North American theatre booths is as close as stateside fans got to experiencing an American tour. The Stone Roses settled for an ill-fashioned Beatlemania in Warrington, but New York City belongs to Bono.
Middle left: "We live in the shadows and we had the chance and threw it away...". At Glasgow Green, John and Ian shut the dressing room door on the world - for five years.
Middle right: A malady always finds me.... Lee Mavers of The La's. He might live the long goodbye, but that is not for me to say.
Bottom left: Pulp at Glastonbury, 1995. Pulp taking over the headline slot from The Stone Roses at Glastonbury in 1995 was arguably the point at which the torch was handed over to 'Britpop'. For Pulp, it was the culmination of fifteen years of plugging away, always out of step. Jarvis wrote the bulk of 'Different Class' after the success of 'Common People'; bound up in an arcane Britishness, it oozes with the confidence, ambition and relief of a man who, after years of effort, was finally in the right place at the right time.
Bottom right: Jarvis Cocker's bottom-waving stage invasion interrupts Michael Jackson's Earth Song performance at the 1996 Brit awards. Filling the Glastonbury slot vacated by The Stone Roses was one of Jarvis Cocker's two finest on-stage Britpop moments. The other was the 1996 Brit Awards, when he was not even supposed to be on-stage. Michael Jackson received an 'Artist of a generation' award and in the middle of performing 'Earth Song', Jarvis Cocker invaded the stage (expertly timing his arrival to the moment when Jackson was lifted in the air by a crane, giving himself a full minute on-stage) and used his bum to express his feelings about the performance's self-glorification. In his performance, Michael Jackson appeared to be portraying himself as a redeemer of mankind, at one point stripping to reveal an all-white garment, surrounded by adoring children, an artistic image not aided by allegations of sexual abuse of children, made against him since 1993. Ironically, Cocker was subsequently questioned by the police on suspicion of causing injury towards three of the children in Jackson's performance, but no criminal proceedings were forthcoming.
Noel and brother Liam had come far since first seeing The Stone Roses at Manchester International 2, the Anti-Clause 28 gig (30th May 1988). Noel had turned 21 the day before this gig, and brought his younger brother Liam (aged 15) along for his first ever concert. Noel met guitarist Graham Lambert of Inspiral Carpets at the gig and the pair struck up a friendship. When Noel heard singer Steve Holt was leaving the band, he auditioned to become the new vocalist; he was unsuccessful, but became part of their road crew for two years. Meanwhile, The Rain (later to become Oasis) were composed of Paul McGuigan (bass guitar), Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs (guitar), Tony McCarroll (drums) and Chris Hutton (vocals). Unsatisfied with Hutton, Arthurs auditioned acquaintance Liam Gallagher as a replacement. An Inspiral Carpets tour poster that hung in the Gallagher brothers' bedroom listed the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon as one of its venues. Liam took the name Oasis from this and the band played their first ever live gig on 18th August 1991, at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Noel Gallagher, still at this stage a roadie for Inspiral Carpets, went to watch his younger brother's band perform. Whilst not overly impressed, Noel did begin to consider the possibility of using his brother's group as a vehicle for a series of songs he had been writing for several years. He soon joined the fledgling outfit, and kickstarted them into action, quickly asserting his dominance over the group. It is sometimes mistakenly claimed that Noel was first turned onto music at the aforementioned Stone Roses gig at Manchester International 2; this was certainly true of Liam, who described his epiphany thus: "That was my favourite gig of all time, killed me dead, changed me fuckin' life. If I hadn't gone that night, I'd probably be sitting in some pub in Levenshulme." An admiring Liam Gallagher was in attendance again at the band's Warrington Parr Hall comeback show in May 2012, looking on from the balcony, and was as regular a presence on the subsequent world tour as Mani's Toby Jugs. Liam's post-Oasis project, Beady Eye, would provide support for the second of three Heaton Park shows on the tour. In Noel's case, it is worth noting that the Anti-Clause 28 gig was not the first moment that made him seriously consider becoming a musician; rather, another Mancunian group, The Smiths, were the catalyst:
"First it was Steve Jones with his white Les Paul and his leather kecks. But I didn't take it seriously until I saw Johnny Marr. He had the Brian Jones haircut and the shades and the white polo neck and the big red semi-acoustic. When your Haircut 100s and your Echo & The Bunnymen and everyone were jingle-jangling up here (clasps imaginary fretboard at nipple level), Johnny was rocking out down here (stoops to mid-thigh). When The Smiths came on Top Of The Pops for the first time, that was it for me. From that day on I was... I wouldn't say... Yes, I probably would say, I wanted to be Johnny Marr."
(Noel Gallagher speaking to Q magazine, February 1996)
Five years is a sizeable gap between brothers. Noel Gallagher (born 29th May 1967) was of The Smiths' generation, while Liam (born 21st September 1972) was more of the Roses'. The Smiths, formed in 1982, rose to prominence when Noel was in his teens, while the Roses broke through in the late 1980s, when Liam was in his teens. After the synth-heavy early 1980s, guitar bands were to enjoy a renaissance in the latter half of the decade, with Johnny Marr a key figure in rescuing the guitar pop genre. For those who grew up on punk, the '60s were not the cultural comfort blanket they have since become, as Ian Brown explained to Q magazine in February 1990. The Smiths were a key act in reigniting an interest in Sixties pop culture: "In the Sixties, records were actually worth something. People went out and bought a seven inch piece of plastic and they treasured it, which they don't seem to do any more. We're trying to bring back that precious element which is, I suppose, reminiscent of an earlier time, but then so what ? It's good to take a part of pop culture and bring it alive again and bring the human spirit back into it." (Johnny Marr speaking to Sounds, 19th November 1983). The Smiths were the archetypal indie group and first The Stone Roses, and then The La's, appeared to be the rightful heir to the indie crown; instead, it fell into the clutches of Oasis, running so fast that they radically redefined indie in the process. Speaking on the 10th Anniversary of Definitely Maybe, Oasis drummer Tony McCarroll reflected: "I think we stole the crown that The Stone Roses left up there for grabs as such." Spike Island's gathering of thirty thousand was dwarfed by Oasis performing to a quarter of a million over two nights at Knebworth in August 1996, as Britpop witnessed the independent music scene losing an integrity and intimacy that had once been cherished by their predecessors of the 1980s. 'Indie' became a meaningless label in a media-saturated environment, where its two leading figureheads, Blur and Oasis, seemed more than content to embellish rivalry in order to embrace a mainstream audience. A music scene which had once set its face against commercialism was now using sales figures to determine who was the superior act. The Britpop years witnessed indie music move out of the treasured domain of specialist record shops and onto the shelves at supermarkets. With major labels devouring the indie sound while discarding its ethos, indie music was no longer about being outside the mainstream - it was the mainstream. With no taste filter, it now became a catch-all term for the sound of mainstream British rock. The indie scene ultimately lost its roots and would only begin to re-establish them in the following decade, performing in clubs and bars, with acts such as The Libertines going one step further and entertaining in front rooms.
Top: The NME fuel the chart battle between Blur and Oasis in the most hyped head to head of the decade. On 14th August 1995, Blur broke the gentleman's agreement, releasing 'Country House' on the very same day as 'Roll With It', and emerged victorious. The press portrayed the spat as a class war, with the public encouraged to take sides in a battle between the southern, art school Blur and northern, working class Oasis. 'The Battle of Britpop' extended beyond the music industry, regularly featuring on the national news. In September 1995, Blur's 'The Great Escape' soared to the top of the album charts and the band appeared to be generally accepted as the 'kings' of Britpop. However, the following month, Oasis' second album, '(What's the Story) Morning Glory ?', became the 3rd best selling UK album of all time, vastly outselling Blur's release; Blur won the 'battle' of Britpop but Oasis had won the war. Both factions took turns to antagonise the other and keep the rivalry in the spotlight: Blur mocked Oasis on MTV's Most Wanted with a spoof version of 'Roll With It'. A none too pleased Noel Gallagher said that he wanted Damon and bassist Alex James "to catch AIDS and die." He later retracted the comment following pressure from the media. The Gallaghers taunted Blur at the 1996 Brit Awards by singing a rendition of 'Parklife' when they collected their 'Best British Band' award, with the lyric 'Parklife' changed to "Shite-life." Noel Gallagher maintains that the rivalry was conceived by the NME magazine and members of Blur's entourage as a ploy to raise their respective profiles on the back of Oasis' success, while Albarn takes the view that the roots of the feud were much more personal.
Bottom: The two competing August 1995 singles.
(5) This is a view shared by other figures in music. Speaking about U2 in an NME article from 17th December 1994, Noel Gallagher said:
"I know U2 are naff, but they took five years off and came back with 'Achtung Baby' and, as far as I could tell, they'd actually listened to the Mondays and the Roses and learnt. And it was good. They could have made 'Joshua Tree' for the rest of their careers. But they had the guts to break their own mould."
Indeed, Bono himself has often described the album as "the sound of four men trying to chop down The Joshua Tree." U2 closed out their 1989 Lovetown Tour with a series of shows at the Point Depot in Dublin, and on the third night (30th December 1989), Bono announced, "This is just the end of something for U2. ... We've got to go away for a while and dream it all up again." This sparked rumours of a U2 break up, which was not Bono's intention. The band knew they needed a new direction but were struggling to find it; key players in the Manchester music scene showed the way. In conversation with Gavin Martin of the NME in December 1989, Bono expressed a fondness for the Roses, which must have seemed a little incongruous at the time. All became clear in November 1991,
when U2 re-emerged with an LP unlike anything they had ever created in the past, in its fusion of dance beats with a harder industrial edge. Prior to this, a break up was considered, and even became likely, until 'One' came together quickly and U2 were on their way again. The band had shown their stadium potential at 1985's Live Aid, with Bono's embrace of a woman from the crowd becoming a defining image of the event. Ian Brown was critical of this profile-boosting moment in conversation with The Guardian in 2005, levelling the charge against the U2 frontman - not for the last time - of hijacking a benefit concert:
Through those years, he says, he was always sure the Roses would make it. Why ? "Because I knew we loved music and I knew what time of day it was, and I knew Bono was faking. He's such a fake, isn't he ? When he did Live Aid which made them a worldwide group and he looked out and seen that black girl in the middle of all them people, and she's from Hackney or something, and he was like, 'Here's a great shot for me around the world to show I'm Mr Africa'. It's like colonialist times with a big white hat."
(Ian Brown speaking to The Guardian, Friday 23rd September 2005)
Bono-bashing is the preserve of the intellectually lazy. The reasons why The Stone Roses never really became as big as they should have are often dissected and debated by fans and journalists alike. A range of factors contributed to this, such as an unwillingness to embrace the mainstream, legal wrangles breaking their momentum, a lethargy setting in, band members being on different drugs
circa Second Coming, the deterioration of inter-band relationships, a lack of professional video product for the MTV age, and a reluctance at making a concerted effort to crack America. This floral bandwagon rolled up at Madison Square Garden a quarter of a century too late. Ian Brown offers this rather lame excuse, in the 2009 John Robb book, 'The North Will Rise Again: Manchester Music City 1976 - 1996', for the band failing to make significant headway in the United States: "We soon realised that America is all pressing the flesh and meeting all the Artie Fufkins and meeting all the retailers - every single night having a game of pool with the lads from the local HMV or whatever - that's how you get on in America and we were not the sort of people who would do that. We went to a couple of them things and it was nice to meet people but we realised that's how you do it in America and it's not about how great your chorus is, it's how about how many hands you're going to shake and that just wasn't us." (Ian took this 'It doesn't matter how great your chorus is' attitude to the extreme in the 1995 Toronto performance, detailed above !). Whereas the norm for bands aspiring to reach (or maintain) major status is to block-book a large arena over a series of nights, The Stone Roses refused to follow this route, instead preferring unique, one-off events. Ian explained to the NME in July 1990, "We're not going to get stuck into all that 40-date tour shit, the main reason being that I don't believe anyone's got enough energy to make every gig as good as the last one. It'd just turn you into morons." A prime example of the band's desired irregularity in this respect can be found in their gigging activity for May and June of 1990. Within the space of a fortnight, The Stone Roses performed to 30,000 fans next to a chemical plant at Spike Island, and the gym of Belfast Maysfield Leisure Centre, on the basketball courts. Speaking to the NME in December 1989 about the Alexandra Palace gig, Ian explained: "The promoter said, 'I've never met people like this, you could sell this place out three nights and make a load of money.' But I just couldn't do that. I couldn't say to people, 'Come and see me tonight. Then come and see me tomorrow night and see what different clothes I've got on.'" (The workings of the group would take on an altogether more professional feel for their 2012 reunion tour; the first move of the band was to announce a three-night residency at Heaton Park, Manchester, for which 225,000 tickets sold out in 68 minutes - making these the fastest selling rock concerts in British history. The merchandising machine cranked into action for this reunion tour, with the official site flogging (everything from) leisurewear to mugs (to £20 phone cases). A ruthless photography contract for the world tour, whereby The Stone Roses demanded a £1 'all rights' buyout of photographers' work, alienated those who had captured their rise some 25 years earlier. Dismayed by this, Ian Tilton and hundreds of other photographers boycotted the Heaton Park shows and subsequent tour. In a letter to The Stone Roses' Press and Publicity Agent, Murray Chalmers, Ian Tilton reasoned: "They were exploited by record companies and managers so I hoped they would have empathy and understanding for us photographer/artists, borne out of their difficult past personal experiences."). On an L.A. radio interview in January 1995 (Tom Calderon, Modern Rock Live), Ian Brown took umbrage at advertisements for the U.S. Airforce, asking the very first caller on the show, "What do you think of that advert... Join the U.S. Airforce, bomb some babies ?" When the presenter of the show was wrapping up the interview, Ian tersely reminded him, "Don't be playing them adverts any more." Such blunt incisiveness epitomized the Roses' lack of mainstream biz sensibility, and one can imagine Geffen promptly crossing the band off the 'high promotion' list when they heard it.
Age is an often overlooked factor in the band's descent. To draw comparison with that other Fab Four, when The Stone Roses got down to the business of recording their second LP in 1992, they were collectively approximately the same age as when The Beatles recorded their final studio album, Abbey Road (and they were at a Voodoo Lounge age when they finally got down to the business of recording their third !). Each member of The Stone Roses was in the process of settling down, and the gang mentality had gone. They had moved away from one another, no longer consuming the same broth in a shared rented house, and Brown's inability to play an instrument limited his songwriting capacity. Left as the sole initiator, Squire was left to his own devices. Perhaps feeling an inadequacy in his own technical ability, Squire seemingly did not want to return until he could compete with Page, and duly lost himself in a Led Zeppelin fantasy duel. Squire unquestionably improved technically in the interim period, but lost a personality and originality in his playing which had been so resonant on the first LP. With Brown's only solo contribution in a five year period being an insipid Straight To The Man, the singer was left with no option but to play the monkey to Squire's organ grinder. These are some of the main factors, but one crucial factor was the character of their manager, ex-hairdresser turned robber baron, Gareth Evans. Evans was, quite literally, promising the world to Silvertone in a woefully one-sided contract. The reach of the Silvertone deal, bizarrely, encompassed "the earth and the solar system". The label was not obliged to release Stone Roses records anywhere else in the world, and the group was only entitled to half-rate royalties on any greatest hits package. Evans' maverick nature and various wheeling and dealing undoubtedly played a role in the band's ascent, but it also served to hasten their downfall. Duping the band in business deals while, at the same time, penny-pinching on big events like Spike Island, were the hallmarks of a manager whose business acumen was less in the mould of a Brian Epstein or Paul McGuinness, and more in line with an Arthur Daley or Derek Trotter (Peter Hook's description of Evans as an "anti-management manager" is very befitting). The Stone Roses were not entirely blameless in this respect, and were, it seems, all too willing at times to play the role of fall guy. As Ian Brown readily admits in his sleevenotes for the 20th Anniversary release of the Roses' debut LP, "...the thing with us was, the more people that would say to us, "Don't get him (Gareth), he's a dick," the more we'd think, "No, he's the man !". In conversation with The Guardian on 21st April 2012, Tina Street recalls first seeing The Stone Roses in 1985 at a rave near Piccadilly station, and becoming friends with the group: "They played Manchester University early on and their manager Gareth Evans paid me and my friend Debbie Turner (both of whom would later work in Identity) £5 to get on stage and 'mob' Ian Brown. We had to get really drunk to get up the courage and I remember Debbie clinging to Ian's legs at one point and he said, 'Debbie, what are you doing ?' It was a bit embarrassing." Myth and mendacity abounds in the BBC3 documentary, Blood on the Turntables, in which Evans is a hilarious cartoon of managerial hyperbole; he takes credit for the
band's success, style, sound, ideas, guitarist John Squire's Pollock-inspired cover paintings - just about everything, in fact, short of actually writing and recording the songs. With sheer farcical chutzpah, Evans at one point pronounces "I am The Stone Roses !". While The Stone Roses were to disappear from view not long after their shoddily organised Spike Island festival, U2 were soon to take touring to a whole new level. A game changer for stadium gigs, the Zoo TV Tour was an elaborately-staged, multimedia-intensive concert tour, running from February 1992 to December 1993, designed to instill a feeling of "sensory overload" in its audience and using the video age for much of its inspiration. In 2002, Q magazine described it as "still the most spectacular rock tour staged by any band." It comprised five legs, 157 shows, was seen by approximately 5.4 million people, and was the highest-grossing tour in North America of 1992. The extravaganza marked a shift from the band's previous achingly earnest stage performances that had typified their tours in the 1980s.
Bono at Live Aid, 1985 (left) and The Zoo TV Outside Broadcast stage (right). The wholesale stylistic transmutation seen in U2 in the four-year period from 1987 to 1991 was every bit as remarkable and unexpected as that of The Stone Roses between 1985 and 1989 (see comments made by Mick Middles here). Ian Brown once declared that he wanted The Stone Roses to be the first band to play on the moon, but it was U2 who would come closest to achieving such lofty ideals. In a 2002 interview (Bono: Up in the blue with the feet on the ground), the U2 frontman - latching on to Brown's blueprint - announced, "We'll be the first band on the moon !". During their 2011 Glastonbury set, Bono was aided in the introduction to 'Beautiful Day' by NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, via video link-up from the International Space Station.
(6) "They heard the records and thought, 'We can do a bit of Beatles, a bit of Jimi. Add a few dance beats and away we go'. Which is what great groups do."
Top: What time is it in the world ? What time is it in the world ? What time is it in the world ? Show time.
Despite their songwriting having comparable biblical aspects, The Stone Roses and U2 are at opposite ends of the religious spectrum. The U2 frontman would be more inclined to lead you on the path travelled by Flannery O'Connor, whereas The Stone Roses' frontman will, ultimately, bring you to the door of Sinead O'Connor. And that is one door I sure as hell do not want to be knocking on. Speaking to Melody Maker on 3rd June 1989, John Squire claimed, "You don't have to rally round the flag of some church to celebrate humanity." Questioned further on his secular creed, the guitarist responded, "I haven't found anything yet. Individualism, that's what I believe in. Freedom." Individualism is not freedom.
When the modern world says freedom, they mean licence. Freedom, in and of itself, is not a good - it is a neutral. The idea that liberty is the 'freedom' to choose good or evil is a fatal error of modernism. The more we master our nature, the more freedom we enjoy. Supernatural virtue enriches our freedom since we not only master our nature but surpass it. Freedom untethered from moral truth, in which, human reason is a law unto itself, invites self-destruction and a dethroning of morality. Make your self-indulgence your religion - neither discipline for the mind nor curb for the passions, Do what thou wilt is the law here. Liberty, rightly understood, means only the freedom to choose the good (for everyone who sins is a slave to sin). The freedom of my fist ends where your nose begins. Your freedom to wield sharp kitchen utensils ends where my wrist begins. Freedom has to be exercised in accordance with truth, otherwise it is not true freedom. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Free thought has exhausted its own freedom. To adore liberalism is to adore an insatiable Moloch. In the spectrum of lawless liberty, evil always wants more. The idea of total license with no discipline of thought whatever, that there is liberty to choose evil (a licence to sin, in which freedom is cherished as an absolute), has caused incalculable suffering to men and nations, and is an affront to God Almighty. The Church is not the enemy of freedom but of liberalism, which is the enemy of the Church no less than of freedom. Political and social Liberalism is the reign of individualism. We live in a world where freedom means using the wrong restroom. The liberal relativism of our time slaughters the preborn in the name of freedom. Liberalism is the adoration of liberty, a masonic endeavor operating under the mask of human progress. Under the pretence of labouring to enfranchise human thought, the liberal seeks only to give free rein to the iniquities occupying the human conscience. For liberals, 'slavery' is the ultimate evil, because for liberals, liberty is the ultimate good. Liberty is not the ultimate good. Almighty God is the ultimate good. As an aside, Ian Brown in interviews will often go off on one about slavery (frequently binding it with Catholicism in a 'West must pay for its sins' narrative), as if we should all be walking around with an interminable white guilt complex. Speaking to The Quietus in September 2009, the singer pinpoints Charles II in 1642 as an embodiment of England's foundation on slavery. Keep in mind that this prodigious slave driver was only twelve years old at the time ! The Catholic Church does not "celebrate humanity" in the context offered by Squire here; rather, she rejoices that Divinity took on humanity. As Divine Love made flesh, God took on human nature, raised it through the angelic realm, and placed it on the throne of heaven. Heaven crossed the frontiers of earth when God coded Himself into humanity. The Catholic Church is the holy, loving communion of divinity and humanity within the person of Christ. The people are not in any way necessary in order for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered to be 'life' for the faithful. It remains the one true Sacrifice that is ever propitiatory and efficacious. The people 'act' in the liturgy inasmuch as they assist in a way proper to their state, but the liturgy itself is not 'the action of the people'. What Squire is providing here - whether he is aware of it or not - is a working definition of modernism. But modernist ideology is not the true faith and modernism in practice cannot be the true religion. No, the true bride of Christ does not "celebrate humanity", but she has always defended the sanctity of human life. All human beings are endowed with an inalienable right to life, and no body exalts the sanctity of life, from the womb to the tomb, more than the Roman Catholic Church. Atheism is all about social cachet. A John Squire artwork from 2008, 'Have Faith' (Oil and oil pastel on Board, 33" x 28", second row, left), features a quote by British ethologist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins. The 2006 television documentary, 'The Root of All Evil ?' (second row, right), contains the following deification of Darwin: "How do we explain the mysteries of life ? Science has steadily overturned old religious myths about how all this came to be. Yet those who adhere to Judaism, Christianity, or Islam still prefer to ignore reason and have faith in their forever unprovable, omniscient creator." In the artwork, the sentence is split, with the words "Have faith" isolated in the sky, in God's 'imagined position'. Two blocks of impasto colour, the stormy grey sky and textured brown earth, are divided by an ominous black line, with the words gouged out in pastel 'underground' (as if science has buried God). Myth-making in an age of science; sexual repression in an age of erotic emancipation; rigid hierarchy in an egalitarian society; patriarchal authority in an age of feminized religion... just some of the armoury in secular media's blitzkrieg offensive against the Catholic Church. The dominant cultural atmosphere in Western society considers religion in general as something primitive, at most a 'placebo' for weak spirits, as something intimately predisposed to intolerance and violence. Monotheistic religions in a special way. Theoretically all of them, but then, in practice, in the widespread public discourse, almost only Christianity, and above all Catholicism - therefore, to the exclusion of Judaism and Islam. The views held by The Stone Roses on religion, which fall somewhere in the region of agnostic or a gnostic, make utterly depressing reading. Agnosticism and vital immanence constitute the philosophical foundations of modernism. In modern philosophy, the standard for what is true is disconnected from reality and transposed into the individual so that the criteria of truth is interior rather than exterior to us. The Analysis section of this site shows that Ian Brown, through a slew of woefully misguided attacks, is vociferous in his abhorrence of the Roman Catholic Church, and has aversion to the very concept of an organised religion. John Squire too, is firmly ensconced in the anti-organised religion camp (though the pair are mute to fawning in specificity to Islam). Note carefully the special mention given to Christianity by Squire in the Satan-disavowing NME extract here (evidently drinking the same Kool-Aid as Ian Brown in drawing this distinction). Mani, in conversation with Will Odell of Stone Roses website I Am Without Shoes in January 2001, made the following diabolical claim: "Let me tell you Will, religion is bullshit, and God is a total wanker !" Returning to the featured John Squire artwork, this strawman polemic from Dawkins has several lies and falsehoods packaged within its displacement of God. I have explained here why the successor of Peter uses the first person plural pronoun, we. At the outset, I am interested to know in what capacity Dawkins is using the same first person plural pronoun here. Science is a tool or a collection of tools for the study of material reality, the reality that can be perceived by our senses. Natural scientists seek to explain the mechanism of life, how it comes into being, but that question pertains more to the material world. Before the how question comes the why question. Why would life begin in the first place ? What would be the purpose ? What forces would lay behind whatever purpose ? These are inquiries beyond the scope of the natural sciences. They can only be answered by the greater science, the metascience of philosophy. Little wonder that when hitting a roadblock here, Dawkins's only response is "The why question is just a silly question" (see his debate with William Lane Craig). Science is permeated with why questions. The why question, certainly, can be worded in a silly manner, but the why question is not a silly question. Dawkins is not going to be solving too many 'mysteries of life' if he expunges that interrogative word from his scientific vocabulary. Science is knowledge through causes; wisdom is knowledge through the highest or ultimate causes. Philosophy (philosophia) is the 'love of wisdom'. Philosophy is knowledge of all things through highest causes, proceeding under the natural light of human reason. The philosopher is above all the guardian of the principles of reason. Dawkins's modus operandi at this point in the debate is to mock Christians for believing in the impression of design (teleology) in nature, and the intricate fine-tuning of the universe, as suggestive of a creative agent. He also berates those who ask the why question by comparing them to children who "apparently haven't grown up." This is illustrative of a subpar, snide and backhanded attempt to confront philosophy that is threatening his naturalistic, atheistic worldview. This is what happens when you let biologists out of the lab. This is not science versus religion. This is religion versus religion. Evolution is nothing more than a pagan religion. Around us today is a philosophy called scientism which preaches that science is the only way to truth. Einstein once mused that "The man of science is a poor philosopher." Philosophy is a science that gives certitude to the mind. Many questions that philosophy deals with cannot be answered by science. Biology sets out to explain the functions, likeness and unlikeness of living things, but it cannot answer the origin, principle and purpose of life. You're nothing but a pack of neurons. No experiment can tell you whether the Holocaust was wrong or not. One cannot have sound notion of what is proper human behaviour (Ethics) unless one has a correct understanding of what is human nature (Philosophical Psychology), or of the existence of God as our last end (Metaphysics). The principles of reason are employed in every branch of true philosophy: Logic; Cosmology; Philosophical Psychology; Metaphysics; Poietics; Ethics, and the rest. Science presupposes a certain philosophy. Indeed, science cannot function without philosophy. Science presupposes logic. Logic is arrived at only through contemplation which is the method of philosophy. In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, is Himself Logic and Reason. Therefore, Dawkins is the one guilty of ignoring reason here. Since God revealed Himself through the Word (the eternal Logos), philosophy must be rooted in truth and logic. The philosophy of the Catholic Church is airtight. Evelyn Waugh, a convert to Catholicism, said of the Catholic Church that "in considering it, any man has to know that it is true because it presents a coherent philosophical system that makes intransigent historical claims." The Enlightenment ideal, on the surface level, was a rebellion against the absurd Protestant notion of 'faith alone', giving birth to 'reason alone'. A war against scholasticism, at its heart a rage against Thomism, the Enlightenment purported to bring the light of reason, of science, of de-supernaturalization to a world benighted by the Catholic Church. The celebrated and nearly worshipped philosophers of the so-called Enlightenment were hell-bent on divorcing man from God, Church from State, morality from truth. The modern-day heirs of their deficient philosophical thought, imagining themselves freed from the shackles of 'irrational faith', stumble along trying to provide an answer to the question of life. For the hyper-rationalist Dawkins, propped up by Darwin, there is nothing beyond the five senses. The intellect is limited only to the knowledge of phenomena. Reading between the lines here, the enlightened man is a superior animal, not bound by the slave morality of the common herd; moral sense is dismissed as an illusion in a grand capitulation to vice. In the end, when all is said and done, Catholicism is the last one standing. The first challenge I would make concerns the separation of Church and Science, the theory that religious faith is somehow in competition with science ("Science has steadily overturned old religious myths..."). Catholicism isn't opposed to science, but the Church is vehemently opposed to the misapplication of science. For the record, when science is misapplied, or on some imagined crusade to rollback religious belief, it ceases to be science. It becomes a perverted science. Conscience. Conscience. The true conscience is with science. Science means knowledge, and knowledge directly corresponds to truth (hence, omniscient, all-knowing). When scientists step outside of the arena of truth and begin using the tools of their trade to wage war on truth, they cease to be scientists. Mystery (Greek mysterion) leads to the mystical contemplation of the divine. In its strict sense a mystery is a supernatural truth, one that of its very nature lies above the finite intelligence. Rationalists object that supernatural mysteries are degrading to reason. Their favourite argument is based on the principle that no medium exists between the reasonable and the unreasonable, from which they conclude that the mysterious is opposed to reason. This argumentation is fallacious, since it confounds incomprehensibility with inconceivableness, superiority to reason with contradiction. The nature of God which is infinite and eternal, must be incomprehensible to an intelligence that is not capable of perfect knowledge. The God of Christianity is not a 'God of the gaps' ('I can't explain it, therefore God did it'). The God of Christianity created the whole show; the harmony of the created universe is guided by divine providence. In the atheistic vocabulary, science means 'evidence', while faith is corrupt shorthand for 'unsubstantiated personal belief'. But not all true beliefs are knowledge, and not all unknown beliefs are false. If something is true according to reason, it cannot be false according to faith; if something is true according to faith, it cannot be false according to reason. Here, Dawkins is redefining faith to mean what we would normally term blind faith. This sets up a spurious 'active seeking' versus 'blind faith' contention. Modernism drives a wedge between the extrinsic and the intrinsic, the empirical and the philosophical, science and wisdom. The loser here, of course, is always wisdom. The conflict is not between science and God. Gravity does not compete with God. There are hierarchies of explanation. The existence of a mechanism or a law that does or describes something is not in itself an argument against the existence of an agent who designed it. A watch demands a watchmaker. A design demands a designer. A creation demands a creator. As the uncreated Creator, God is an explicator at the level of an agent, not a mechanism. The greatest delusion of modernism is that the laws of nature are explanations of the phenomena of nature. They are not - they are descriptions. God and science provide compatible descriptions from different perspectives of the very same universe. The conflict is between science and atheism. Evolution is philosophically untenable. It is against the basic laws of thermodynamics. Evolution is the very definition of superstition, for it grants to lesser things more power than they actually have. Whether they believe in God or not, every single person walking the face of this planet has a belief system. Faith is a multivalent word, but the atheist will deceptively use it as a blanket term for religion. The normal meaning of faith (Latin fides, fidelity) is trust. Science involves faith at the deepest levels. The formulation 'science and faith' is an atheistic one, not Christian. The corresponding discipline of science is theology. That which in philosophy functions as principles, in theology is faith. Theology is thus a scientia subalternata, a science which draws its legitimation from the light of a 'higher' science, namely the knowledge of God and of the blessed. Practically no important field is untouched by the discipline of theology. Theology is the queen of the sciences, and philosophy is her handmaiden. Theology is arguably the most comprehensive integrative discipline around. Theology is a science. It is a body of knowledge, and it has the greatest of all certitude. Not only is the hierarchy of sciences disregarded today, but it has been perniciously inverted. Anyone who implies that God forbids man to pursue knowledge is a snake. This is the devil's gospel. The burning question in Eden was whether man would trust God or fall prey to the seduction of experiential knowledge. Sacred Scripture is not the product of a credulous pre-scientific era. God set the scientific ball rolling in the beginning of Genesis, by encouraging man to name each living creature (taxonomy). The Bible is saturated with encouragement to seek knowledge and gain wisdom. With the arrival of Christianity, God opened His own mind to man. Let us reason together, saith the LORD (Isa 1: 18). The Catholic Church established the university system. You will find 35 lunar craters named in honour of Jesuit scientists. Science - when it is a true scientific endeavor carried out without biases - confirms her faith. Who does not see that knowledge precedes faith ? For Dawkins, moral idealism has no role in the realisation of reason in history. This is not reason. This is the cunning of reason. Science is not the opposite of faith; refusal to believe is the opposite of faith. Only when science starts acting like a religion or if religion jettisons reason will any such clash occur. Secularist notions of tolerance, inclusivity, equality and human rights are empty slogans that the State fills as it decides. They are a pseudo-morality, a cover for 'might is right'. In a world of creeping secularism and godless humanism, we are looking at the progressive dehumanisation of man, and an escalating asphyxiation of society. Fundamentally, Secularism is a religion of despair, and despair is the capital city of hell. Like all Christian heresies, Secularism 'works' only because of the remaining traces of Catholicism it still contains. But as these traces are bleached out, it becomes ever more irrational, oppressive and destructive. Religion makes claims about matters on which science has something to say. And some scientific discoveries are relevant to important philosophical questions. So theology cannot be walled off from science. Furthermore, science itself is often influenced by wider currents of thought. The crux of the New Atheism a là Richard Dawkins is that he absolutizes his own preconceptions, leaving no quarter for metaphysical questions. Certainly, every scientific discipline must confine itself to the methodological restrictions proper to its own field, but outside the methodology there's a grey area. Law implies a lawgiver, and a command implies a superior, but there is no place for natural law in the primal struggle of evolutionary mythology; it must start from a primordial soup of nothingness. Dawkins needs philosophy to relativize even that which is absolute so that science and technology might enjoy moral autonomy in a laboratory of social engineering. Eritis sicut Deus. Little wonder that Dawkins himself has no qualms about playing God, pronouncing in August 2014 that babies with Down's syndrome should be aborted. The faith builds on natural law. Where natural law is not enough, Divine Truth shines light. It was only after hearing the truths of Catholicism that the Aztecs stopped massacring their own. True faith is not infra-rational but rather supra-rational. That is to say, not below reason but above reason and inclusive of it. Faith transcends the law of sight. Faith comes through hearing. "Faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source." (Pope Pius X, The Oath against Modernism). Faith is a supernatural virtue given to us by God by which we give intellectual assent to divinely revealed truths. The virtue of faith is the pupil of the intellect, the eye of the soul. Faith is not 'pretending to know things you don't know'. Faith is God's work in you, to which you respond. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Joyful trust, as opposed to a naive hope. In the end, these three remain - faith, hope and love - but the greatest of these is love. What Dawkins seeks to do in the above extract is prepare the ground for a cult of reason by putting faith on trial: cancel God out of the calculus, and quarantine the theological virtue of faith, thereby starving it of the source of life. Science, which deals with the material world, is going to pronounce judgement on the immaterial world. Any scientist on such a venture is outside of his field. The immaterial rules the material, but modern thought - itching for a privatization of the faith and immunity from the one true God - doesn't want to entertain the existence of the immaterial. That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him: But to us God hath revealed by his Spirit. The Catholic Church has been the leading proponent of scientific research for most of her history; I would advise Dawkins to watch the 13-part Thomas Woods series, 'How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization'. The contribution of the Catholic Church to sustaining Western civilization is without parallel. Second, Christ is no "old religious myth", nor is our God identical to the Muslim Allah and the Talmudic Shekinah. Other religions must answer for themselves; is Christianity evidence-based or not ? The historical narrative of Jesus Christ happens not in a galaxy far, far away, but in time, at a concrete point in history. The crucifixion of Christ is no myth. It is grounded in history, supported by a unanimity of historical data (Greek historians, Roman historians, pagan historians, Jewish historians, Christian historians). He suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures. Not only is Dawkins not taking the discipline of Philosophy seriously; he is not taking History seriously. Not content with dismissing God as "forever unprovable", Dawkins in debate has gone as far as to deny that Jesus even existed. In one head-to-head with John Lennox, he backtracks on this claim, after being confronted with insurmountable evidence to the contrary. Third, Christianity does not "ignore reason"; Saint Thomas Aquinas took the realist epistemology of Aristotle and formed the synthesis of reason and faith; Aquinas understood reason as that by which we know. Simple secularists still talk as if the Church had introduced a sort of schism between reason and religion. The truth is that the Church was actually the first thing that ever tried to combine reason and faith. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. Faith without reason withers into myth or superstition. The sleep of reason produces monsters. The existence of God can be known by reason alone. But without faith, reason becomes a nightmare. Keep awake. It is rather, Dawkins who, in his 'I don't believe in what my eyes don't see' contracted state, is working from a reduction of the radius of reason. Dawkins is a reductionist, and more specifically, a logical positivist. Logical positivism went the way of the dodo in scientific circles some 50 years ago. Note the verbal conjuring at work by Dawkins here, reducing reason to what he calls science. Science is not reason. Science is not reason justified by reason. Science is observation put together into mathematical or verbal models which are then put together into the highest level of science known as theories. Science cannot lay sole claim to objective truth. Science is not the only mode of knowing. Science is not the only paradigm for understanding. Man lives in a triple dimension: physical, psychological and spiritual. The European endarkenment, usually referred to as the 'Enlightenment', reduced the scope of reason to the explicit dimension, but we live our lives by intangibles. When reason is limited strictly to the empirical and denied of its capacity to reach objective moral truth, relativism runs rampant. Today, there is an inversion of the dependence of freedom on truth. No longer does the truth set us free. Rather, we are free to make true what we desire by the will to power. In the end, the individual who is dismissive of objective moral law will be swayed either by gut feeling, personal interests, or popular liberal sentiment. The moral compass for the multitude today is experience (a very close cousin to emotion). When you replace the teaching authority of the Catholic Church with the primacy of the human conscience, the result is moral chaos. Conscience is not the final arbiter of what is morally right. In its truest sense, conscience is the intellectual apprehension of the Divine Law. For this reason, Divine Law is primary. The culture today, with a built-in animus against anything that speaks of God, regards conscience not as a judgement as to an objective moral right, but as merely a personal preferential decision. Finally, regarding God being "forever unprovable", I am reminded of the man who told Bishop Sheen he did not believe in hell, to which the Bishop replied, "You will when you get there." Sanctimonious secularists often wimpishly bewail a 'lost connection' between Athens and Jerusalem supposedly severed by monotheism; but this is precisely when the lights came on. This is the beginning of a new day. To modern man, reason is a disembodied rationality that declares itself free from any true subjectivity, a geometric postulate that has no relation to a thinking person. The reason that we're here, nobody knows in all creation ? That's the sort of corrupt reasoning you'd expect from a Darwin monkey. God provided the works of creation as means by which the Maker might be known. The reason that we're here is to move toward the Creator of all creation. The soul is created for Christ. All things were created through Him, all things were created for Him. One immortal soul is worth more than the whole created universe. Life came from an uncaused living being, being came from an uncaused essence, and motion or cause came from a mover, or an uncaused effect. Life is not produced out of nothingness, being cannot be without essence, and motion cannot exist unless an outside force acts. The ancient Greeks were seeking the answer to these questions, and when Paul approaches the seat of philosophical inquiry he answers all of their questions in this statement: In Him, we live, move, and have our being. God is relational unto Himself. Our God is profoundly different from the lifeless gods of the pagans. The Greek philosophers understood God to be basically static, the "unmoved mover". For them, God was distant, aloof - uninvolved in their lives. The Hebrews, on the other hand, understood God to be dynamic. Even his name is a verb: I Am Who I Am. Essence and existence are the same thing in God. Their God was intimately involved in their lives, and supremely powerful. Jesus' revelation of the Blessed Trinity specifies for us the source and essence of this power, which is in fact the very nature of God Himself. And this nature, this essence, is love. Since love only exists in relationship, it follows that God is relational in the very core of his being. His nature is one, just as love is one, but this single divine nature subsists in three divine persons, who each invest all of their divine personhood in the others. And just as the total gift of self in married love tends by its own internal dynamism to extend outward to create and sustain new life, so also the self-giving of the three persons of the Trinity extends outward to create and sustain life. The Father's love pours forth in the creation and maintenance of the world. The Son's love pours forth in His total self-sacrifice for our redemption. And the Spirit's love pours forth to strengthen us in the face of all the temptations and challenges that lie ahead. God's love is dynamic, full of power and always relational - the source of our life, our being, our salvation and our hope of eternal life. Our faith is not static in the least. This Ruler will not isolate Himself from His subjects, as is the custom of Oriental sovereigns. He will show Himself, and with the magic of His beauty He will capture all hearts. The soul is created by God in His own image, having the power to know what is true (intellect) and love what is good (will). Reason illumined by faith and will moved by charity. Ultimately, truth and goodness are God. They don't just reside in God, they are God. What God hath prepared for those who love Him, essentially, is Himself. Your destiny is to partake of the divine nature. You were made to be divinized.
"He took an open top Beetle through the eye of a needle...". While Ian Brown's mindset seems closely aligned to that of Dan Brown, Bono, in contrast, is tuning in to the frequency of C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. On the bottom left, he can be seen visiting Pope John Paul II's summer residence in Castelgandolfo, Italy, in September 1999 to seek support for debt relief. The pope is trying on Bono's Fly shades, in exchange for which, Bono received a Rosary by the pope, which the singer keeps in his pocket during live performance. Speaking in 2005 about secular unease with the demand of faith made by Christ, Bono said, "Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: 'I'm the Messiah.' I'm saying: 'I am God incarnate.'" Echoing Lewis's trilemma, Bono concludes, "So what you're left with is either Christ was who He said He was - the Messiah - or a complete nutcase. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that's farfetched." In the 1995 animated music video for 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me', Bono is run over by a car (driven by Elvis) while reading C.S. Lewis's 'The Screwtape Letters' (bottom right). Following the death of Pope John Paul II, Bono delivered a heartfelt tribute from the United States; Ian Brown, meanwhile, was penning the infernal All Ablaze. While I would not for a second advocate Bono's template for Christianity (the U2 frontman too often tries to tinker with church teaching in order to serve a humanitarian palate), I would unquestionably, if forced to choose between the two, be pro Bono.
"When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed..."
(Charles Darwin, 1863)
"Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, of bold, often ill-founded extrapolations, a pseudo-science has been created. It is taking root in the very heart of biology and is leading astray many biochemists and biologists..."
(Pierre-Paul Grassé, evolutionary zoologist, 1973)
Although U2 were extensively using the Bible in their work prior to the release of The Stone Roses' debut LP, the influence of the Mancunian act on U2 in this regard would be worthy of investigation. Phased through the hedonism and decadence of Madchester, Bono's previously ascetic prose now took on the form of what could be described as a more secularized Christianity, an altogether more left-wing philosophy, blended with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. Reflecting on the hard-left taken by U2 with Achtung Baby, Bono commented, "It took U2 fifteen years to get from Psalms to Ecclesiastes, and it's only one book !". Formed in 1976, the band's 1991 offering marked not just a new chapter in their venture, but a new book. In this new guise, Bono was as likely to glamorize Satan's Fall, as celebrate our Saviour's Ascent. No longer content with surveying the vast expanse of God's Country, the singer was now setting up shop in the devil's domain. On The Fly, Bono reels off a stream of single-line aphorisms like a demon letting loose the secrets of his trade. A high-energy sonic barrage leads into an angelic chorus: Love, we shine like a burning star / We're falling from the sky tonight, formed around the words of Jesus in Luke (10: 18): "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."
Bono described the song as "a crank call from Hell... but [the caller] likes it there." (U2 by U2. McCormick, Neil. 2006, pp. 224 - 225, 232). This devil's advocate of Lewis's Screwtape Letters would find further expression in Bono's MacPhisto alter ego, a greasy-haired, red-horned, decrepit has-been rock star named after Mephistopheles of the Faust legend. The Irish poet Brendan Kennelly's series of poems about the betrayal of Christ, 'The Book of Judas' (1991), imbued the mood of the whole Zoo TV Tour. Kennelly's directive, "The best way to serve the age is to betray it.", became U2's mantra for that illustrious two-year period, to do everything the band weren't supposed to do. U2's euphoric embrace of dance grooves, with jarring clashes of dissonance amid a previously verboten sensuous atmosphere, was undoubtedly kick-started by Manchester's leading lights. Gone were the gravely serious post-Live Aid polemics, the chastely strident rhythms, and The Edge's trademark crystalline guitar textures. "I always remember the intense embarrassment when I happened to be in a club and a generous-spirited DJ would put on one of our tunes from the War album. It was so evident we had never been thinking about how it would go down in clubs. So we just wanted to stretch ourselves in the area of rhythm and backbeat and groove." (The Edge speaking to Rolling Stone, 24th October 2011). Bono has described Mysterious Ways as "U2 at our funkiest... Sly and The Family Stone meets Madchester baggy." (McCormick, 2006, p. 227). It feels almost as if a body swap of some description took place between The Stone Roses and U2 in late 1990. The Stone Roses were blooming in Technicolor in 1989, boasting an effortless groove; meanwhile, as the '80s gave way to the '90s, a decade-old post-punk band was set to ditch its rootsy Americana obsession to submerse itself in a Technicolor European futurism, turning club remix culture into an art form (quite literally, in the case of this Trabant ensemble). Shorn of their Technicolor dreamcoat and club credentials, the Mancunian pace-setters regressed to a muso-leaning, staid American rock, trading on re-exporting the Blues (even a disjointed stab at techno-guitar experimentation was given a welcome upgrade by the Irish act). Shirley Manson, speaking to Mojo magazine in January 2002, discussed the impact and legacy of The Stone Roses: "The (debut) record ran parallel with the rise of ecstasy and listening to the Roses in that context felt like some kind of movement, a rock band (who) could infiltrate dance culture....to this day I've seen everybody from Liam Gallagher to Bono ripping off his moves." Compare Bono's act either side of 1990 and it's clear that his band were moving to a different beat; for example, Bono's infectious shift from foot to foot in The Fly would fit seamlessly in the One Love video. Masked by a rockstar identikit persona, the U2 frontman's newfound insouciant swagger at the turn of the '90s, much like Liam Gallagher's loping gait and bravado, was straight out of the Ian Brown indie handbook.
"I wish it was the sixties, I wish we could be happy..."
Top row: The Stone Roses remain the most significant influence on the contemporary UK rock scene, with Ian Brown influencing a generation of frontmen: (left to right) Bono, Liam Gallagher, Tim Burgess, Mark Morriss and Alex Turner.
Second row: "I'd like to be somebody else...". Liam Gallagher's peripatetic mode, fashioned after Brown, would see the singer prowl and saunter across the stage, staring at fans with a detached curiosity and breaking down the boundary between performer and audience. The Oasis frontman's guise would tend to alternate between that of Ian Brown and John Lennon, depending on his mood. When questioned about The Stone Roses' '60s leanings in interviews, Ian Brown was often rather guarded in discussion, keen to establish that the band were a forward-thinking unit. The time is now. "The Stone Roses' album hasn't been around before. It might remind people of certain records. It might remind people of the sound of the '60s, the sound of the '70s, who cares ? It's not been done before, has it ?" (Ian Brown speaking to Rapido TV, September 1989). The hippie counterculture, in Ian's eyes, had "copped out ... They didn't achieve anything." Speaking to Melody Maker in June 1989, the singer elaborated, "That was someone else's time. Anyway, they say it was different then, but for most people it was just the same as now. It's irritating, all these 'back to the Sixties', 'back to the Seventies' hankerings: we should be going forward. But the Eighties are about nothing. Nothing in England anyway. I like a lot of that Chicago stuff. House music. It's different. In 20 years, when all the barriers have fallen down between countries, it should be quite exciting." In conversation with Dave Simpson of Uncut magazine in February 1998, Ian claims that The Stone Roses would discard songs if they bore too close a resemblance to The Beatles: "Me and him (Squire) used to write loads of songs, but they'd be Beatles songs. We'd go, 'Oh shit, it's I Feel Fine' or 'Shit, it's Day Tripper' and we'd sack it." Oasis, in contrast, had no hesitation in plundering that particular field, nor disguising it either. A performance of Live Forever at Maine Road, Manchester, in April 1996, culminated in the Oasis frontman worshipping a huge projected image of John Lennon. Chin-stroking reverence on such a scale prompted Ian Brown to dismiss Oasis as "babies pretending to be The Beatles", when speaking to the NME on 21st March 1998.
Third row: The Stone Roses, while deeply indebted to the late '60s, stopped short of worshipping at the altar of the Fab Four and psychedelia. As Squire explained to the NME in December 1989, the band were fine with the mind-expanding, broadened colour palette of psychedelia; the ostrich feather aspect, however, not so. In this regard, it is easy to appreciate how the band were so strongly drawn towards Love's Forever Changes, a glorious song cycle exploring the dark side of hippiedom. Released in the fall of 1967, Forever Changes rejected flower power clichés; instead, Arthur Lee's psyche located the dark underbelly of the 'peace and love' generation and cast an eye on a world that was about to descend into post-coital chaos at the hands of Charles Manson, Altamont, and the Vietnam War. Bookending Forever Changes is a song striving to out-jangle The Byrds, and another, aiming a symphonic trigger dead at The Beatles. The Stone Roses' relationship with their future producer John Leckie was settled when they all agreed that Forever Changes was the "best record ever". The mantra which sets the scene of Spike Island, The time, the time is now, do it now, do it now, the only words spoken by Ian at this event, channels the spirit of Arthur Lee on this LP's spine-tingling finale. Love would still serve as a focal point for members of the band years later, with John, Mani and Reni attending a Love with Arthur Lee concert in 2005.
Fourth row: When The Stone Roses were asked by the NME in December 1989 to recreate the famous Beatles' 'Help!' cover (left), the idea was given very short shrift. Rather than a reverent semaphoric homage, the band instead opted for a celebratory 'Top of the World' projection (right).
Penultimate row: "Reckon we'll get another one...". Back for one last shot at the title, this 'Top of the World' template would become the defining image of the group's 2012 reunion tour.
Bottom row: Part of the Roses' insurrectional manifesto was to smash the old guard, of which U2 and Phil Collins were considered the embodiment. "We started out to finish groups like U2 - that was what it was all about. And they're still the biggest band in the world, so we failed.", conceded Ian to The Guardian on 2nd February 2002. Oasis had no such combative aspirations, keenly accepting a support slot on the Oakland legs of U2's PopMart Tour. Ian Brown maintained his long-held stance on U2 at The Stone Roses' reunion press conference in 2011, joking, "I think they're bobbins. You can put that on record - they're actually bobbins.", much to the amusement of John Squire. Reni and Mani, in contrast, were more than complimentary to the Irish rock act (clearly at unease and anticipating the inevitable ensuing U2-bashing, Reni commented: "U2 are wonderful. I quite like U2. There's nothing wrong with U2. U2 are awesome... They're good players and they're great songwriters... One's made me cry." Mani: "I like Bono, he's my mate man."). The metamorphosis of U2 was perhaps nowhere more manifest than in the band's muted acceptance, via satellite, of a 1992 Billboard Award for Best Rock Artist, from Phil Collins. Nursing pints of Guinness, the band show little enthusiasm at winning the award, nor communicating with Collins. A jovial offer from Collins to support the Irish act is met with the bare minimum of acknowledgement. Irreverent digs permeate the transmission, and as the banter gets going, Adam Clayton and the barman combine to deliver a comical put-down of the Genesis drummer. As the band (sans Larry Mullen) are being presented with the award by Paddy the barman, Clayton jibes Collins via camera: "I'll tell ya, Phil, Paddy's a very good fan of your music. And so are all our parents." The barman immediately recoils, "I'm not that old !", much to the amusement of the band. As the terse responses from the band are accentuated by satellite delay, a visibly flustered Collins is seen wiping the sweat from his brow at one point. Later in the exchange, he mistakenly imagines that Bono was about to speak to him, in a classic 'blood out of a stone' live tv moment. When the U2 frontman did address Collins, it seems as if he is finally about to extend an air of gratitude to his fellow artist ("I was just gonna say, it's really..."). The Genesis drummer's hopes are soon dashed, as Bono merely wishes to state that it's great to be back home in Ireland. To confound matters more, Bono fits in one last snub by humorously informing Collins that President George Bush is calling on his mobile phone, and thus, he would have to curtail the satellite link-up. U2, much to the frustration of Collins, were now in very different company indeed. The Zoo TV Tour was media manipulation at its finest, and here, the band use every trick in the book to flummox and outmanoeuvre a former ally. With this rite of passage, U2 here completely break rank with the British rock royalty of the 1980s, in spectacular fashion. U2, only a couple of years previously, questioning the relevance of Phil Collins head-to-head in front of an audience of millions, would have been unthinkable. Ultimately, The Stone Roses were unable to smash U2 because of their own retreat, in which void, U2 effortlessly assimilated into the new order. 1991 saw a shuffle of the old guard, and here was a band more than ready for the deal.
Modal analysis (by Steve Davidson):
This one starts with A major and D major, with the emphasis or tonal centre being the A major chord. So we are in A Ionian.
The notes are:
(A B C# D E F# G# A)
The verse chords are A major, C# minor, D major and E major. So everything is still in A Ionian. The chorus chords are to start with A major and D major and the melody is still in A Ionian. Then we have a D major to G major sequence. Now the Key centre still returns to the A major chord. So what we have here is a modal change to A mixolydian.
Here are the notes:
(A B C# D E F# G A)
It goes back to the A Ionian mode for the rest of the song.
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