This tiny sceptred isle that we know as Great Britain has a colourful history when it comes to the arts. It’s almost as if the grey landscapes and perennial boredom that are inherent to existence on this strange land have deep within them a sort of elusive and inspiring magic, the kind of one that Geoffrey of Monmouth helped to establish in 1136 with his account of King Arthur in History of the Kings of Britain.
Or if we were going to be less politically engaged, we could say that Britain is a peculiar place. One could argue it has been lucky that a conflation of different factors has helped to produce some of the most important creatives in history. Only a brief mention of economics brings this argument into full view.
It’s no accident that the ‘Western’ world has had a huge proliferation of artists. We live in a western-centric world, and a bi-product and prerequisite of this come to the fact that western creatives, much like anything else hailing from this socio-economic clime have always had an easier route to success than say their West African contemporaries.
Concentrating solely on music, the past 60 years have seen an incredible amount of British musicians dominating global charts. Whether it be The Beatles, David Bowie or Adele, there’s been a heavy British presence on the charts since they began. Aside from huge artists, Britain has also produced a whole load of culturally significant bands that never really make a splash outside of the UK. Oasis instantly spring to mind.
Another example of this was their Manchester peers, The Stone Roses. The spearhead of the ‘Madchester’ movement, their fusion of indie and dance music, also known as the iconic ‘baggy’, is timeless. For everyone who listens to them, their music contains nostalgia, even for those who weren’t around to enjoy the music at the time.
There’s a sense of hedonistic abandon intrinsic to The Stone Roses’ music. It stems from a time when The Berlin Wall had fallen, The Cold War was coming to an end, and ‘The Second Summer of Love’ had occurred. The young people were moving into this orgiastic future head-on, aided by copious amounts of ecstasy and alcohol.
An iconic band with an iconic sound, each member of The Stone Roses is a legend in their own right, regardless of their opinions outside of the music. Frontman Ian Brown’s vocals are unmistakable, John Squire’s busy guitar work inspired a generation, as did drummer Reni’s grooves.
Then we come to bass player Mani. An incredible bass guitarist, who is often regarded as the most amiable of the four, he makes a strong claim for being the most underrated British bass player of all time.
The band’s two albums are smattered with his funky but driving basslines, and in many ways, he was the glue that held the whole thing together. Even after The Stone Roses split in 1996, he went on to have a fruitful career with Scottish rockers Primal Scream. He’s also released an album with the band Freebass alongside Peter Hook of Joy Division New Order and Andy Rourke of The Smiths, has played alongside his heroes The Damned and even joined Paul Weller on stage.
A bass player with an unforgettable style, we think it’s time Mani’s bass playing got more attention. We’ve decided to compile a list of five tracks that show just how good he is and the huge extent of his legacy.
Mani’s top five basslines:
‘Fools Gold’ – The Stone Roses (1989)
Mani’s best-known bassline, and just like the rest of the song it is a classic. There’s so much swagger in the bassline. It drops in and out during the verse, giving it that groovy syncopation that gets you moving instantly. It’s got everything you want from a bassline; funk, attitude and a bit of that Madchester flair that the band were loved for.
Interestingly, the bassline was inspired by the track ‘Know How’ by Young MC, which was itself a sample of Isaac Hayes iconic Shaft theme song. When listening, you instantly lock into Mani’s bassline and that pedal note he plays towards the end, giving the song a heavy edge, is genius.
‘I Am the Ressurection’ – The Stone Roses (1989)
One of the band’s most enduring songs, the beat starts the song, before Mani’s typically busy part comes in. A somewhat walking bassline, it’s also one of Mani’s funkiest. According to Reni, the track originated when Mani played the riff of The Beatles classic ‘Taxman’ backwards.
Reni said: “Mani would play the riff backwards during sound-checks and we played along over the top for a laugh. Finally, we said, Let’s do this joke-song properly and see what happens.”
Mani seems to have an uncanny knack of reappropriating other people’s ideas, how postmodern. The way he carries the track through the jam at the end reflects clearly how underrated he is.
‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – The Stone Roses (1989)
The intro to 1989’s ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ is about as atmospheric as indie gets, and yes, it would be nowhere without Mani’s brooding bassline that cuts through all the sparkling textures that start off the song. It gradually increases in volume in the mix, as Squire then adds some of his most iconic, treble driven licks over the top.
Guaranteed to get you moving, it’s a simple bassline, but so effective. It’s so atmospheric that you could maybe argue that there are flecks of goth inherent to it. Trudging along, sat in Reni’s pocket, this is Mani at some of his finest. Restrained but swaggering, that’s the name of Mani’s game.
‘Swastika Eyes’ – XTRMNTR (2000)
Busy as hell, the Primal Scream version of Mani was a beast to be reckoned with. He augmented their dance sensibilities in every way. He’d teased these sorts of basslines on later Stone Roses tracks like ‘Begging You’, but on this entry, it’s one of his most abrasive moments.
Driving and almost industrial, the bass line is so funky. It’s almost an arpeggio, and alongside the electronic arpeggios that make up the song, it helped to lift the lead single from Primal Scream’s underrated 2000 outing, XTRMNTR. Mani’s droning bassline carries the song, with like everything he does; within two seconds your head is bobbing along.
‘She Bangs The Drums’ – The Stone Roses (1989)
Not the most technically difficult bassline, but that doesn’t matter. It has that push feel that makes ‘She Bangs the Drums’ the most euphoric song in the whole of The Stone Roses’ back catalogue.
It’s here that you clearly perceive just how vital to the band Mani was. Squire riffs off his basslines, and the way he locks in with Reni is brilliant.