The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses 20th Anniversary Edition CD review (Shockhound)

(3 out of 5)

When it comes to music, British and American audiences often do not see eye to eye. The whole Blur-Oasis kerfuffle? A minor blip on the US cultural radar. Robbie Williams? Couldn’t get arrested in LA. Yet, more than any other, the Stone Roses’ 1989 debut is one of those things that really gets lost in trans-Atlantic communications. US music fans, of course, are quite familiar with the album, and “I Wanna Be Adored” is a justifiable alt-rock classic. But when, in 2006, the NME proclaimed this album the “greatest British album of all time” – yes, ALL TIME…Beatles and Stones fans can just suck on it – the sharp difference between US and UK tastes became ridiculously clear. Yet, 20 years after its initial release, THE STONE ROSES is getting a deluxe (and, if you’ve got the cash, super-deluxe) reissue treatment in the States. Does this mean that it’s now considered a justifiable classic in the US? Not so much. Like beans-on-toast, roundabouts, and the Kinks, THE STONE ROSES is very much a British phenomenon, and no amount of B-sides and bonus tracks will change that. The main album — the 11 cuts that start with “I Wanna Be Adored” and wind out with “I Am the Resurrection” – is still pretty great, although the biggest cuts are weighed down both by nostalgia and a very era-specific production quality. Worse, the middle half, with cuts like “Bye Bye Badman” and “(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister,” still sounds incredibly weak in comparison, as if Ian Brown and John Squire were shaking out their baggy pants and seeing what fell out. That said, it’s amazing that there were still enough bouncy, Madchester beats left over from the sessions to fill out all the bonus material here; there’s an entire set of demo versions, along with a baker’s dozen B-sides, of which precisely one – “Mersey Paradise” – would have been worthy of inclusion on the main album. (We won’t even discuss the three “songs” that are merely back-masked versions of album cuts.) In other words, there’s nothing here to convince non-Anglophiles of the Stone Roses’ greatness, but hey, this is the “greatest British album of all time,” so, you know, there’s that.

First appeared Sep. 8, 2009 at Shockhound.com.

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