Stone Roses - Stone Roses (20th anniversary re-issue) (4 stars)

Stone Roses - Stone Roses (20th anniversary re-issue)

Here’s a thought no one who bought The Stone Roses’ debut album on the morning it was released 20 years ago will want to be alerted to – The Album That Changed Your Life is as old today as Abbey Road was in 1989 on the day you shelled out your pocket money for that pristine cassette tape by the Manchester baggy masters. Feeling old yet? Why not stick on The Stone Roses once more to forget? There you go … feels like you never grew up, doesn’t it?

It’s comforting to think this album, born of the unassailable confidence of youth tempered by the social conscience of four men who grew up in and around the working-class Manchester of the 1980s, has so far avoided the slide towards the Heritage Rock dumper. There’s so much to love in every track – the spine-tingling bass intro to ‘She Bangs the Drums’, Ian Brown’s commanding funeral march for British imperialism ‘Waterfall’, the tide of Biblical imagery his lyrics conjure during the heart-cracking ‘Made of Stone’, John Squire’s unashamed Led Zep riffing at the close of ‘I Am the Resurrection’. Unlike, say, Definitely Maybe, each new listen feels fonder and more welcome than the last.

This triple CD reissue is overstuffed with unnecessary extras, although CD2 is essentially a rejigged version of the second best album this band ever released, the singles and B-sides compilation Turns into Stone, which includes the definitive ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘Elephant Stone’, and the under-rated ‘Standing Here’. CD3 comprises a bunch of demos that offer an inessential Wizard of Oz ‘behind the curtain’ view of the album, although the until-now-unreleased ‘Pearl Bastard’ is certainly better than previously revealed early recordings, plus there’s a bonus DVD of their now legendary Empress Ballroom set from the same era.

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