Monday, December 24, 2007

The Stone Roses

Ah, memories! Those bittersweet remnants of a time that has been. The reminiscence of the good old days that we may never re-live, but will always cherish.

Some people remember faces. Some others recollect places. Me, I tend to associate my memories with music. Some of my fondest memories are associated with the album I was listening to at the time. Not all albums persist in memory, mind you. Only the really special ones. The ones that are as cherished as the memories themselves.

I will always associate, for instance, my first job with Judas Priest's Painkiller. The senior year in college with Animals. My trip to Chennai with Somewhere in Time. And the last couple of months of grad school - the most traumatic, soul-wrenching couple of months that anyone can experience - when I was trying to 'write-up' my dissertation shall always, in my mind, be associated with The Stone Roses.

Now there are those of you who at this point would say , "The Stone Roses! But isn't that 80s pop". To you I shall respond, "Yes, it is 80s pop. But it is bloody good 80s pop".

To be honest, categorizing an album like The Stone Roses as 80s pop would be most unfair. Sure it is Brit pop. And sure it was released in the 80s. But it is unlike anything that was released in the 80s, or any other decade for that matter. When every other record was sticking to formulaic bubblegum pop, here was an album that not only shunned the contemporary, but quite simply invented a whole new genre.

The album, the band's self-titled debut, was released in 1989 and almost immediately had cult status conferred upon it by fans and critics alike. Cleverly blending music from the London underground with 60s rock, it introduced a completely novel sound to Brit pop (the band was among the first to incorporate wah wah guitars in a mainstream album, for instance). With its haunting guitar riffs and distinctive underground feel, the album provided a template for new age groups like Oasis and Blur, and in 2006 was ranked by NME as the number 1 album in its "100 Greatest British Albums Ever" list.

Although the album is remarkably consistent, for me the standout songs would have to be Don't Stop and I am the Resurrection. That's not to say that I don't like the other songs. It's just that these two (both songs are about perseverance and overcoming adversity) seemed to appeal especially to me at the time, given the predicament I faced.

If you haven't yet heard the album, and this apology of a review doesn't convince you of its greatness, go buy the album and listen to it for yourself. If you still remain unconvinced however, then I scoff at you. Scoff, I say. At you, no less.


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