The Second Coming by The Stone Roses. This is the somewhat maligned, heavily delayed sophomore album to the band’s hugely acclaimed eponymous debut The Stone Roses. It’s 21 this year, by heck, and we first listened to it disappointedly in 2001 during a visit to Nottingham.
Gone were the inspiring psychedelic pop songs and jazzy riffs, and in came a really bloody heavy, Led Zeppelin sound. The press freaked out, and it got a mixed response. The band imploded shortly afterwards. But since 2001, we’ve come to appreciate it a great deal.
The Second Coming
It was released in December 1994 in the UK, 1995 in the US. The Stone Roses (singer Ian Brown, guitarist and artist John Squire, drummer Reni, and bassist Mani) had been away for 5 years. Stuck in a three year legal dispute between Silvertone Records and Geffen, they had been banned from performing live or recording music, which ultimately dissipated the momentum they had built up over the last 8 years.
Before the band collapsed, however, they were able to release the Second Coming. Not the best title, but the album remains something of a forgotten gem all the same.
Some of the problems begin with an unnecessarily long, jungle sounds fused intro to Breaking Into Heaven. This drags on a long while, but it breaks into a heck of a groovy, bluesy number which (at 11 minutes 21 seconds) is one hell of an opener.
Unfortunately, this is followed by Driving South (skip), and later in the album there’s Good Times (arguably the band’s worst song), and the pointless Straight to the Man. The latter’s not too bad, but it’s not album material. Quite why the band didn’t include the brilliant Ride On instead is beyond us. It was merely released as a B-side to one of the album’s singles.
Drummer Reni’s Masterpiece
Despite these flaws there’s a lot of fantabulous music here. Guitarist Squire’s on top form and drummer Reni is quite unbelievable. The Stone Roses are something of a cult band, so Reni remains largely unknown, but the man is a genius of the highest order. On the Second Coming he’s remarkable from start to finish and this isolated loop of his Love Spreads drumming showcases his skills.
Daybreak is the highlight for him, a tight jam with an incredible groove. It’s one of the all-time great drumming performances: complex, streamlined, dextrous, fluid, funky, controlled, and precise. It sounds so effortless it’s only when you try to replicate it that you realise you’re an idiot.
Ten Storeys of Conclusions
Drumming aside, there’s great music here. Ten Storey Love Song is beautiful, as are the acoustic numbers Your Star Will Shine and Tightrope. How Do You Sleep has an endearing charm about it, whilst Tears has one of the most glorious acoustic intros imaginable.
Things close out with the aforementioned Love Spreads, a classic which hints, had the band been allowed to be more focused, at how good the could have been.
Unfairly treated by the media, but now being recognised as a flawed gem, the Second Coming’s a low 4/5 on the strength of its best songs and the extraordinary drumming. Should the band’s third album be on the way (as bassist Mani confirmed it is) it’s a good reference point for the band on how to build on their many strengths. Innit.