Saturday, May 13, 1989

The Stone Roses’ debut album hit the charts

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses

Released: May 2, 1989

Peak: 86 US, 5 UK, 62 CN, 36 AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK

Genre: alternative rock/Britpop


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. I Wanna Be Adored (9/14/91, 20 UK, 18 MR)
  2. She Bangs the Drums (7/29/89, 34 UK, 9 MR)
  3. Waterfall (1/11/92, 27 UK)
  4. Don’t Stop
  5. Bye Bye Badman
  6. Elizabeth My Dear
  7. (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
  8. Made of Stone (3/31/89, 20 UK)
  9. Shoot You Down
  10. This Is the One
  11. I Am the Resurrection (4/11/92, 33 UK)

Total Running Time: 49:02

The Players:

  • Ian Brown (vocals)
  • John Squire (guitars, backing vocals)
  • Mani (bass)
  • Reni (drums, backing vocals)


4.363 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)


“There’s almost no precedent for the Stone Roses…their debut was a fully formed gem that gave birth to an entire genre – Brit-pop.” – Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light, Time magazine


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“There’s almost no precedent for the Stone Roses…their debut was a fully formed gem that gave birth to an entire genre – Brit-pop.” TL “Pop hooks [are] one thing, and dance rhythms [are] another, but it’s also important to have dat swing, you know, and the band has it.” GS The album “ushered in the era of Madchester,” AZ “an indie rock phenomenon that fused guitar-pop with drug-fueled rave and dance culture.” AMG At the time, “British youth were abandoning rock music en masse for acid-house sounds and communal raves” BN “and the charts were looking less than healthy.” AD By bringing “dance music to an audience…previously obsessed with droning guitars,” AMG the Stone Roses “almost single-handedly made British rock music hip again.” BN

Through “classic psychedelia married with punk energy and rave swagger” BN, the Roses established themselves as “postmodern English, filtering folk-rock romanticism through Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain hyperromanticism.” RC “The repercussions…could be heard throughout the ‘90s” AMG as the band spawned the sound of the guitar-based pop of Oasis and Blur, “gave birth to shoegazer bands like My Bloody Valentine,” RV and were “a definite precursor of grunge.” JA

Frontman Ian Brown revived “the concept of classic pop songwriting.” AMG “Quietly melodic” PK “prime ‘sixties’ harmonies” AD “owe far more to, say, Simon & Garfunkel than to New Order.” PK The lyrics “flicked at epic romance…without veering into sentimentality.” TL The album “creates it’s own world and atmosphere whilst simultaneously reminding you of almost every great sixties English group.” AD It has “the lyrical sensibilities of John Lennon and Joe Strummer, mixes in Motown rhythms, adds a dash of Sex Pistols and tops it off with a purple haze of instrumentation and production reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix.” RV “The vocal melodies are well-written and sound fresh, sincere, and inspiring. And happy, too: this is one hell of a cheerful, optimistic record.” GS “Only The Beatles ever dared exhaust so many good tunes in the space of an hour.” IB Ultimately, the album is “a crystallization of everything there is to love about the last 40 years of pop music.” RV

Guitarist John Squire establishes himself as “a new hero for a new age,” AZ deftly heading into the world of “guitar heroism without the attendant pomp and egomania.” IB His “playing is endlessly inventive but never overwhelms the songs.” IB His “layers of simple, exceedingly catchy hooks” AMG are “a thing of magic,” AZ “recalling the British Invasion while suggesting the future with their phased, echoey effects.” AMG He “lingered over chords like the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn.” TL “Drummer Alan ‘Reni’ Wren’s galloping, hiphop-influenced beats [are] a sonic infusion that became a fixture of ‘90s alt rock.” JA Along with bassist ‘Mani’ Mounfield, the two “shift from charging beat-pop to fluid funkadelic grooves, sometimes in the space of a single song.” IB They “always imply dance rhythms without overtly going into the disco,” AMG establishing themselves as “one of the tightest British rhythm sections of the time.” GS “This is as good as guitars, bass and drums can sound together, and if you don’t get it, you probably have some disease that keeps you from liking music.” IB

“I Wanna Be Adored”

I Wanna Be Adored is “a perfect album opener” AD “with it’s slow, slow build up [and the] impeccably played musical backing” AD of Mani’s “creeping bassline,” AMG Squire’s “waves of cool guitar hooks” AMG and Reni’s “funky drummer shuffle.” QM Through it all, Brown “sings with a vitriolic verve unheard since Johnny Rotten” RV as he “reveals the band is driven by the devil to make great music.” RV

“Emerging through a thick, but parting musical fog of winding, digitally echoed guitars, a disembodied bass line and the lone pull of a steam train, Brown audaciously announces, ‘I don’t need to sell my soul / He’s already in me.’” AG-21 The song is “a meditation on achieving immortality through success” AG-21 and “a shameless but catchy blast of sheer self-promotion.” AG-21 However, one could also say it “doesn’t seem like an egotistical statement from a band in its infancy as much as it is a prelude to greatness.” RV

Besides, the song is “far more vulnerable…than it appears. On the surface, the repetition of the song’s title in the framework reveals a desperate yearning for success and adoration, but deeper than that, it’s a shameless almost adolescent search for approval.” AG-24 In the end, the song is “The Stone Roses’ piece de resistance, the song that provides a titular thesis and gives the subsequent numbers their steam, both sonically and thematicall.” AG-26

“She Bangs the Drums”

On She Bangs the Drums “the ‘60s hooks and the rolling beats manage to convey the colorful, neo-psychedelic world of acid house” AMG and “wind into the rhythm inseparably” AMG while displaying “a rush of guitars not heard since The Byrds invented folk rock.” AD

It’s also “a great example of the Stone Roses’ almost preternatural talent for knowing how to deliver a winning blow in a pop song.” AG-33 It “is the kind of song that bands spend their careers trying to write; it’s verses are rousing, its chorus exhileratin and in between all that, the notion of ‘the future’s mine,’ is an inspiring proclamation by a band staking their claim on a new era and cheering the death of the old one.” AG-33

Contextually, the song fits into the late ‘80s atmosphere of England when the lower class were feeling trampled by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policies and turning to ecstasy-fueled rave parties for escapism. Thus the song “comes off as a rallying cr for governmental change.” AG-30 The Stone Roses weren’t “considered a political band, but Brown was quick to remind the press in the late eighties that they had no qualms engaging in civil discourse.” AG-30


Waterfall “is an astonishing and exquisite” AG-52 “luminous, druggy, Byrds-style ballad.” JA It showcases “delicate repeating guitar figure and its dramatic ending” AD leans on “sixties-influenced studio gimmicks like backwards tracks and phasing.” JA Brown told Uncut magazine that while recording the song, it “was the first time we went, ‘Wow, this is it.’” AG-52

“Sonically, it’s a gentle, swirling number that demonstrates the band’s finesse and range.” AG-55 Lyrically, however, it is “like many of the Stone Roses’ songs…purposely impenentrable and open to interpretation” AG-53 but “it appears to be about a young woman who finds her physical, emotional, and possibly spiritual freedom through the use of drugs.” AG-53 It’s a song “about growing up by taking a trip – or tripping and then growing up.” AG-56

“Don’t Stop”

“With touches of psychedelia powered by a loopy back-masked shuffle, ‘Don’t Stop’ – rumored to be Brown’s favorite track on the album – is an artful and adventurous composition.” AG-63 “Thanks to its murmured vocals and dizzyingly manipulated instrumentation, [Don’t Stop] sounds both backward and forward at the same time. And that’s because it is.” AG-62 Squire explained that “it’s the tape of ‘Waterfall’ backwards with the bass drum triggered…and the only real overdubs are the vocals and a bit of cowbell.” AG-62

“Bye Bye Badman”

This song was inspired by the 1968 student riots in Paris. Brown had been contemplating a song on the subject matter after he and his girlfriend encountered a Frenchaman while on a hitchhiking journey through Europe. He had been in the riots and relayed a story of using lemons to counteract the effect of tear gas. AG-69 When Brown and Squire saw a documentary celebrating the 20th anniversary of the riots “and subsequent riots that all but paralyzed France,” AG-68 it proved to be the catalyst to write the song.

“Beginning with Squire’s muted guitar and ending with a flanged solo, all propelled by Brown’s thoughtful hush, ‘Bye Bye Badman’ manages…to achieve a lilting pop momentum.” AG-71

“Elizabeth My Dear”

This “dark and angry anthem” AG-78 is a “gently strummed 59-second ad hominem attack on the Queen” AG-75 which uses the melody from “Scarborough Fair.” While some were stunned that the Stone Roses “would have the gall to reinterpret a Simon and Garfunkel classic” AG-75 the song is actually an English ballad from the 16th century. AG-74

While this song lacks the venom of the Sex Pistols’ classic “God Save the Queen,” “Elizabeth My Dear” “is haunted by a subdued sense of menace.” AG-75 It is “beautifully played and lyrically direct…Its irresistibility lies somewhere between Brown’s saccharine vocals, Squire’s gentle picking, and the sheer force of its political subversion.” AG-78

“(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister”

This song is said to be about a relationship with a prostitute and the union “is not the PG-rated fare of Pretty Woman.” AG-85 This, however, is “more than just a post-coital shrug of the shoulders; it’s an unconventional love song, charged with longing and regret.” AG-86 “Brown’s delivery goes from intimate and confessional to angry and accusing, without ever sacrificing an instant of loveliness.” AG-84 His “heartsick melancholy indicates that the financial and emotional math of this relationship is not only taking its toll and driving him nuts, but like any proper addict, he’s unable to stop.” AG-84

It’s accompanied by “minor changes in which Squire’s guitar fades up and down like the sound of someone changing his mind.” AG-85

“Made of Stone”

Made of Stone is an “atmospheric” and “heartbreaking, swoon-some classic pop rock song.” AD “The band were justly proud of this and released it as a single.” AD It “is one of the band’s most enduring pop songs” AG-92 and “may very well be one of the greatest outsider pop songs.” AG-92 The song “builds on the idea that with the right navigation one can drive through alienation.” AG-94

It “depicts the destruction of Manchester under dwindling industrialization and Margaret Thatcher’s iron fist. ‘When the streets are cold and lonely / And the cars they burn below me / Are you all alone / Are you made of stone?’” RV British magazine New Musical Express called it “the final, painful, unanswered question.” AG-96

“Shoot You Down”

Brown and Squire discussed openly how much they were influenced by the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but tended to deny that their debut album was influenced by ‘60s pop. Still, the did acknowledge a love of Jimi Hendrix, “an influence most apparent on ‘Shoot You Down,’ a slow-burning and blurry ballad that brings to mind ‘The Wind Cries Mary,’ but unlike its forbearer, boasts an threatening undercurrent of emotional and physical violence.” AG-100

“Yet it’s all delivered so smoothly, making the elegant menace that surfaces through its placid currents all the more disturbing.” AG-101 “Set against its airy instrumentation, Brown shadowboxes behind Squire’s sleepy riffs, just ahead of Mani’s drowsy bass and in between the shuffle of Reni’s nimble drumming.” AG-100 It makes for a “gliding, predatory classic.” AG-105

“This Is the One”

This Is the One is “all about getting the hell out of town,” AG-109 an ironic statement considering how the Stone Roses put their hometown, Manchester, on the map as the center of the escstasy-fueled rave culture in which its followers wore clothes that made them look “possessed by relaxation and utterly chilled out.” AG-107

It is “an inspiring pop song boasting stirring background vocals and a textured melodic attack.” AG-109 “On the strength of Brown’s starry murmur, Squire’s clamoring power chords, Reni’s rushing cymbals and Mani’s metronomic but breezy bass line, the song surges into an accelerated sige of lush, layered harmonies that rise and sail over each other in continuously flowing bursts of pure mellisonance.” AG-110 Melody Maker called it “the centerpiece of the record.” AG-110

“I Am the Resurrection”

While every song on the album “is knocking on the door of perfection…[the epic finale I Am the Resurrection] kicks it down, taking in bubblegum, Motown, and psychedelic funk on the way to a glorious instrumental climax that’ll having you shaking your head in disbelief.” IB It is “an eight-minute blast of pomposity, impiety, and sheer pop toughness” AG-115 that “moves from cascading pop to an inspired and experimental instrumental jam the likes of which weren’t found on indie guitar albums at the time.” AG-116 “Lyrically, the song thumbs its nose at everything from organized religion to love to death, and is fueled by both irreverence…and omniscience.” AG-116 Ultimately the song “declares itself to be bigger and more important than anything in the world.” AG-115“It takes a certain amount of arrogance for a band to claim its [sic] the second coming, let alone an upstart. The Roses pull it off with ease. Brown snarls, ‘I am the resurrection and I am the light / I couldn’t ever bring myself to hate you as I fly,’ sounding more like a villain than the messiah…By the time the band reaches its instrumental climax, it’s easy to adore the Roses.” RV


The band would never find a way to equal their debut. With their fame came subsequent legal battles to move from independent status to a major label. They eventually signed with Geffen and, five years after their debut, “reemerged…with the stodgy and wrongly titled Second Coming. The Stone Roses, however, remains a stellar contribution to the canon of classic debuts.” BN It is “one of the finest records of the past 30 years.” CL “Some albums really can change the world, and in 1989 this was one of them.” AZ


There are versions of the album which include the singles “Elephant Stone” and “Fools Gold.”

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First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 11/30/2022.

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