Capital City Daily – circulation 265,704
THE STONE ROSES: WAR AND PEACE
THE Stone Roses combined punk and psychedlia and were the next new Manchester thing after New Order; if Tony Wilson and Factory and the Hacienda were the Manchester establishment, then the Stone Roses went against all that.
They were against Smiths-style gloominess, too, and they single-handedly made flares respectable again. Madchester, ecstasy, the Summer of Love (1990); it makes you dizzy just thinking about how long ago that was,
The Roses also had a flake for a manager – one Gareth Evans – whose eccentricity was part of the Stones Roses brand even though it wasn’t helping them move forward. By the mid-’90s the band were in trouble: their early contracts had turned into a liability and the songs had dried up.
The stress and sense of having plateaued led some of the members into heavy drug use, and the American tour fell to pieces.
Reading this book, one observes, without rancour, that apart from the band’s lack of sleaziness about girls, there is hardly a rock ‘n’ roll cliche left untouched. Even the songwriting duo of Ian Brown and John Squire ended in acrimony and 15 years of public sniping. They were in the peculiar position of being one of the defining and influential bands of the period at the same as being perceived – by themselves as much as by anyone else – as having fumbled the catch.
Other bands, such as Oasis, took much further what they started.
It would be a sadder story than it is if it didn’t also include Fools Gold and I Wanna Be Adored.
Paul Stevens – Webmaster www.stoneroses.eu
Originally planned in collaboration with Reni (and promising over 70 new interviews) it was very much discussed on the Don’t Stop Forum in the months that lead to its release and as such there was much expectation. I tried to avoid talk of the book so I could approach it with an open mind when I finally came to review it and I was thrilled to find it a genuinely enthralling read; easily my favourite of the big Roses biographies. Despite all I have read and known on the subject of the band over the years, I was surprised at the plethora of new information presented by Spence to keep me entertained, particularly in the first half of the book.
The whole thing is fiercely entertaining and flows superbly; the chapter’s subject selection is logical, he gives a focused account with them all and you can feel the author’s passion for the band in every paragraph. One of the few drawbacks for me is the sheer amount of people name-checked in some chapters (particularly around ‘Second Coming’ and the Zomba/Silvertone lawsuit) which is a little tricky to keep track of who is who at times.
The early chapters are the most informative with Spence masterfully telling the story of their formative years. It was a treat to see the vast selection of early band photos too as well as the various promotional literature and press releases from first label Thin Line and various notes from producer John Leckie.
Overall it is a joy to read that is hard to put down and a very successful Stone Roses biography that tells the band’s first two comings nicely in the time when we’re all excited about their third!
The Stone Roses reunion has been one of the most highly anticipated comebacks of our time. With the band set to reform for a world tour this summer, there’s no better time to release The Stone Roses War and Peace; a book that tells the story of a band who defined a generation.
This must have been a difficult book to write; the Manchester four-piece are notoriously media shy, but somehow Simon Spence has interviewed over 80 characters in the Stone Roses story, including seven former band members, and has gathered a collection of unseen photographs.
As with many biographies the majority of key characters are missing, however, Spence notes that the band’s reclusive drummer Reni, was keen to take part in this project before The Stone Roses announced their reformation and went into a media blackout.
The band’s early history is covered in this book, thanks to early bassist Pete Garner and second guitarist Andy Couzens. One of the most interesting interviews in The Stone Roses War and Peace is with legendary producer John Leckie, who provides a fascinating insight into the band’s recording process.
Another great thing about this book is that Squire’s use of cocaine is treated sensitively rather than for shock value, and personality clashes and fights within the band are treated with diplomacy rather than favouritism.
Whether or not you’re a fan of The Stone Roses, this book is a fascinating read, which is well written and easy to follow. It is a must have for any Stone Roses’ fans bookshelf.
Simon SpenceViking, £20;
Review: Julie Cheng
During the 1980s and 1990s, Manchester band The Stone Roses, featuring frontman Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Mani and drummer Reni, gained a massive following with ‘Fools Gold’, ‘She Bangs The Drums’ and ‘I Am the Resurrection’.
Based on hours of interviews, Simon Spence puts the story of the band into neat chapters focusing on specific people, times or events. Insights include the infamous gig on Spike Island, the recording contract with Jive/Zomba and the creation of ’Madchester’.
As the terms of the Jive/Zomba contract were questioned, the relationship between Brown and Squire broke down. In 1996, after only two albums, the guitarist quit.
Fifteen years on, and to the ecstasy of the fans, Brown and Squire are speaking. What the world is waiting for is their reunion tour this summer.
The Stone Roses: War and Peace
by Simon Spence
RATHER like the band, Simon Spence’s biography of The Stone Roses is full of hyperbole, missed opportunities and murky history. Within three pages, he says they are ‘the hottest, most notorious band in the world’ – despite the fact their 1989 debut LP charted at a lowly No.86 in the US.
Although this is a manful effort to capture the story of the Roses’ rise to British fame and infamy, it never fully engages. Some of this isn’t Spence’s fault. The book was supposed to be a collaboration with drummer Reni but the reunion was announced and he pulled out.
It means Spence has to rely on interviews with former band members who fell by the wayside, but War And Peace is crying out for some insight from Ian Brown or John Squire beyond quotes lifted from other publications. In fact, the character who comes across as most intriguing is their colourful manager, Gareth Evans – presumably not the intention.
JULY issue 2012
The Stone Roses: War And Peace (three stars)
Simon Spence Viking, £20
From scooter boys to comeback millionaires, by the man who co-wrote Stoned with Andrew Loog Oldham.
This is a loving and detailed biog, and will be a gentle revelation if your Roses knowledge extends no further than the Empress Ballroom in 1989. Among the flaccid minutiae (Mick Hucknall was a sound engineer on early records, dancer Cressa’s favourite night at the Hacienda was a Tuesday) are some gems (Geno Washington smoking weed at Ian Brown’s Hulme flat c1983; Reni playing with Pete Townshend the same night as the Roses’ first ever gig). Spence’s access is often to the bit players, and this may be no bad thing – they’ve got plenty to say (Reni, according to early member Andy Couzens, answered the phone as Renee”, with a French Accent, and “had as Rottweiler called Bella the size of a big bloke”). John Robb’s 1997 biog is also out (and updated in time for the Heaton Park reunion this summer) – read ’em both and get yourself on Mastermind.