Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Stone Roses - All For One

Good things come to those who wait.

Except they don't, do they?

Ten years ago, no-one expected ever to hear new material by The Stone Roses. Even five years ago, it seemed unlikely - they'd hammer the arse off the nostalgia tour, then disintegrate with a whimper, John Squire's ego wrestling with Ian Brown's pride and Reni's disinterest to put an end to the reunion they'd all said could and would never happen.

So anyone who says they've been waiting 22 years for All For One is a fucking liar. And anyone who claims it was worth a 22-year wait is trying far too hard.

This is The Stone Roses in name only. There's none of the hushed psychedelia of their first album, none of the cocksure groove of their mid-period EPs, none of the thunderous Zep-aping rock swagger of their second incarnation.

All For One is a Britpop anthem as written by men in their 50s who were never Britpop first time around. All of what made the Roses The Best Band In The World is missing, and instead we get a shrill, over-produced mess.

The lyrics are dreadful - what few lyrics there are. "All for one, one for all, if we all join hands we'll make a wall" - didn't Pink Floyd spell out the dangers of that 37 years ago?

I initially misheard the verse lyrics as: "A tragedy, a catastrophe", which would have been apt. It's actually some faux Flower Power guff that would have sounded trite in 1966, and just sounds embarrassing 50 years later.

Musically, the biggest crimes are against the rhythm section. Mani's bass, a key component of the Roses sound,  is barely audible.

Reni, master of the indie breakbeat and a drummer second only to Ginger Baker in the pantheon of the greats, is made to sound like any bog standard, four beats in the bar, hit them hard indie drummer.

John Squire's final howling guitar solo manages a late salvage job, but by then I'd all but given up.

I stick by my initial assessment - that it sounds like The Fratellis. More specifically, like The Fratellis labouring over a Seahorses album track for 20 years.

The internet enthusiasm for All For One has been baffling.  Maybe people are just desperate to love it. Maybe they genuinely DO love it.

But as the enduring popularity of Donald Trump, Ed Sheeran and Mrs Brown's Boys show, the general public aren't to be trusted with important decisions.

(Says I, who heard it twice, didn't like it either time and immediately bought it on iTunes anyway.)

I'm going to resort to parental cliché - I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed.

I certainly don't feel like I'm missing out by not seeing the Roses for a third time when they tour this summer.

I can't envisage where All For One will comfortably sit in their setlist - unless it's going to be surrounded by more new songs of similar quality midway through the gigs.

It was never going to live up to the expectation, and it continues the Stone Roses Law of Diminishing Returns.

By the time of their Fifth Coming in 2045, their comeback single will be Ian Brown bludgeoning Michael Jackson's Billie Jean to death.