Somehow in my mind I confused the Stone Roses with the Happy Mondays so my initial listen was kind of confusing. Anyway…
I have read that this is the record that started Madchester/Baggy but listening to the first side of it it’s certainly hard to understand. You have to get to the second half before much resembling Madchester rears it’s head. Genres evolve, and not knowing about the history of this one my guess is that it evolved because of the second half of this record, rather than they just dabbled in an already existing sound. But I honestly don’t know. It feels like one of those records where the reputation it has and the actual product don’t quite align. (It is quite hard listening to some of these tracks to understand why some people believe this record is the foundational document of Madchester.)
What’s surprising to me is how much like Brit Pop the rest of this record sounds like. It feels like its importance is as much in how it helped Brit Pop emerge as with Madchester (particularly since the former scene was much more enduring).
I am not really a fan of either genre: most Brit Pop bands are not musically interesting enough for me, and Madchester has dated as a sound and, moreover, introduced the curse of the Funky Drummer to the 1990s.
But the songs are pretty damn strong, particularly on the side which is closer to Brit Pop. But the vamping on the longer tracks is also often quite compelling and more so than some of the later Madchester records I’ve heard.
It’s a good record. I’m not sure how important it actually is, as it feels like it’s only Madchester tangentially and you have to think that somebody else put out a record with more of a dance influence before this one (or soon after). But I must say I like it a lot more than I though I would, perhaps in part because I was happy to learn that the Stone Roses are definitely not the Happy Mondays.