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Music

How The Stone Roses pulled a genius reversal on their debut albun

@TylerGolsen

There’s no arguing that The Stone Roses were innovative. Pairing together all the best elements of The Smiths’ indie rock sound with the emerging world of dance music, the Manchester quartet let it all hang loose on their self-titled debut album. From the opening bass rumble of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ to the final messianic proclamation of ‘I Am the Resurrection’, The Stone Roses instantly solidified their own divinity as one of alternative rock’s most important acts.

What elevates The Stones Roses above any other debut album is that the band already sound completely fully formed and confident in their ability to make an all-time classic record. The Stone Roses caught a nasty reputation for arrogance in their contemporary heyday, quick to strike down “amateur” productions or slag off some of their fellow acts as inferior, but when you have songs as potent as ‘She Bangs the Drums’ and ‘This Is the One’, who needs modesty?

The group knew the perfect way to sequence their first LP: they proclaimed their desire for love and attention during the first song, claim the future for themselves on the follow up track, and then spend the next 40 minutes proving why they deserve it all. By the time you’re either losing your mind to ‘I Am the Resurrection’ or ‘Fools Gold’ – depending on which version of the album you’re listening to – you have to simply tip your cap and admit that these cocky bastards were right. They could make anything sound glorious.

Even their own song in reverse could be a club smash. If you caught a bit of deja vu after listening to ‘Don’t Stop’, the psychedelic fourth track on the original UK version of the album, that’s because the basic track is simply the previous song, ‘Waterfall’, played backwards. Lord knows who thought of flipping the tape on ‘Waterfall’, but the results are clearly the starting point for an entirely great new song that could be played on its own merits.

Not everything in ‘Don’t Stop’ is retained from the backwards playing of ‘Waterfall’. Reni’s drums become awfully muddled in reverse, so he recorded some new percussion overdubs to keep the song driving in the right direction. He and Ian Brown also re-recorded their vocals for the track, with Brown writing some new lyrics based on what some of the garbled reversed words sounded like they were trying to say. It doesn’t make much since when viewed on a lyric sheet, but it’s the perfect reinterpretation when listened to back-to-back with ‘Waterfall’.

But The Stone Roses weren’t content with simply leaving ‘Don’t Stop’ as a studio experiment. They actually learned how to play the song live, replicating some of the finer points of the track in a band setting. If you thought it was difficult just to play John Squire’s intricate guitar lines, imagine then having to re-learn those lines in reverse. Maybe The Stone Roses had reason to believe they were what the world was waiting for: even their songs played backwards were instant classics.

Check out both ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Waterfall’ down below.