John Squire, a founding member of The Stone Roses and the man behind their unique guitar sound, is far too often overlooked as one of the best guitarists of his generation, if not in British rock and roll history. We’re looking at his isolated guitar track on The Stone Roses 1994 record ‘Love Spreads’.
As soon as the first notes slam through the airwaves and John Squire is forced to rear up his thoroughbred riff you know that you’re in for a treat from the boys from Manchester. Though they would likely fight us tooth and nail for lumping them in as Britpop, it’s hard to not see The Stone Roses as the foundations of the whole scene.
Much of that scene is built on the backs of two men, Ian Brown and his bandmate John Squire. While Brown would deliver the lyrics and the unwavering stare-down he became famous for, John Squire’s mastery of the guitar would allow the band to traverse new heights that had never been reached before, an effortless melding of minds.
The pair had been friends since school, with Brown once protecting Squire from some bullies. Brown told The Guardian, “John Squire was getting his head kicked in one day at school; I saw it and thought: that’s that kid who lives up our road, so I pulled the other kid off because he’d had enough. I went round that night to see if he was all right, and I took the first Clash album.,” Brown says Squire bought the record the next day and played it on an almost continuous loop for 18 months.
While we can all appreciate the chugging beauty of The Clash and Stummer and Jones’ playing, Squire quickly rose above them in terms of playing ability. On this isolated track for the band’s ‘Love Spreads’ shows how far he had come. ‘Love Spreads’ was released on 21st November 1994 as the first single from their second album Second Coming. The record reached number two on the UK Singles Chart, the highest peak for any song by the band – it’s largely regarded as one of the greatest indie songs ever released.
The lyrics of the song have always held a special place for their ubiquitous message of love and tolerance but while that alongside the rhythm section provide a baggy bounce of benevolence, it is Squire’s guitar that moves the song into the upper echelons of the musical landscape.
On this isolated track, you can hear Squire’s empirical technique and masterful tone. Squire manages to create a sonic structure that allows the grit and salt of Britain to be gilded by the bluesmen of Americana. Combined we get one of the best guitar licks of recent memory and one of the best songs The Stone Roses ever wrote.