The album closer of The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut album from 1989 is an epic. No denying that. Starting off with a basic drumbeat, it builds and builds and becomes this thunderous, choral experience.
As a messianic anthem, it’s up there with the very best from Led Zeppelin to… other fantastic Led Zeppelin stuff.
And we’re here to celebrate I am the Resurrection. It represented an incredible band at its creative peak and it’s still something to behold over 30 years later.
Prophetic Affirmations (and hope) in I am the Resurrection
Starting off with drummer Reni’s bopping beat, bassist Mani soon swoops in over the top, and then singer Ian Brown kicks in.
Down, down, you bring me down,
I hear you knocking down my door,
And I can’t sleep at night.
Your face it has no place,
No room for you inside my house,
I need to be alone.
And then guitarist John Squire kicks in, beginning the clever, structured nature of the colossal track proper.
The lyrics seem to hint at some sort of collapsed relationship. But given the revolutionary nature of the album, a barbed attack at British institutions the monarchy and the Tory party (see the soaring Waterfall), you could take the lyrics in other directions.
Don’t waste your words,
I don’t need anything from you,
I don’t care where you’ve been,
Or what you plan to do.
The chorus seems to consolidate all the band’s sentiments into one proclamation towards something new and better. Suggesting glorious days are ahead or, if not, that’s of no concern to this youthful revolutionary.
I am the resurrection and I am the life,
I couldn’t ever bring myself to hate you as I’d like,
I am the resurrection and I am the life,
I couldn’t ever bring myself to hate you as I’d like.
After its opening faze, I am the Resurrection then does one with the lyrics. Instead, it cuts into a furious groove with a funky as all hell shuffle from Reni and genius work from Squire over the top.
This was improvised by the band across various sessions, including a famous pause from the members at the 5:20 mark. That was a spontaneous decision between them, playing on the Madchester dance culture of pausing between dance numbers to catch a breather.
But it just sounds cool, too.
And after the onslaught, there’s a real cut back to mark out the album as the best of its era. From 6:40, the song takes on a different level entirely and becomes this chiming, anthemic number you’d never really expect to emerge out of Manchester.
It reminds us a bit of The Who’s genius in A Quick One, While He’s Away. It just builds and builds and becomes orchestral, operatic.
One hell of a way to close your debut album off.
According to the band’s drummer, the song came about after bassist Mani was messing about playing The Beatles’ riff off Taxman. Mani would play a looping backwards version and Reni would improvise over the top. John Squire would then join in.
Eventually, they decided to turn it into a full song. You can hear an early demo of this all right here, which was released to the public for the first time in 2009.
The finished version ensured the band could end every gig with this unforgettable rave to send Madchester youths of the day off into rapture. Whether out of it on pills or not, they weren’t going to forget this one in a hurry.
Quite rightly, I am the Resurrection has appeared on many Best Songs Ever lists. As well as being considered one of the most exhilarating songs you can listen to.
Q Magazine also placed it #10 on its list of greatest ever guitar tracks, which is a fitting tribute to John Squire’s often ignored brilliance.
And the song is, arguably, the crowning moment of genius off the debut.
We consider it a prophetic statement. Not the expectation it’d work for England, but one of hope and a desire for a better future.
The 1992 Single Release of I am the Resurrection
Bizarrely, and as a cash grab, the band’s former label Silvertone released I am the Resurrection as a single in March 1992.
This one just includes the opening section of the song in rather cut back fashion. And it also cuts off the final segments in a decision that still makes no sense. Why not just release the whole song as a single? People would have bought it.
Regardless, at this point it all just adds up to the band’s mythos. But it’s worth pointing out The Stone Roses had no input on this one.
The Best of I am the Resurrection Live
The Glasgow Green version here is from June 1990. The band was at its absolute peak, prior to a legal case ruining its momentum.
This one has the opening section nailed to perfection, with Brown and Reni’s gorgeous backing vocals sounding great. It represents a momentous moment akin to Woodstock ’69. The Madchester, baggy clothes version at any rate.
This one is up there with The Who’s Substitute from Leeds 1970. Just the perfection of the opening with the backing vocals.
But our favourite live version of I am the Resurrection is from the August 1989 Blackpool live gig at the Empress Ballroom.
Brown sounds like crap on this one (his smoking habit hindering him), but once it gets into its mid-section, the boys just explode with it.
And the song heads off into an instrumental later on, which Reni leads the whole of from the 8:00 mark. That includes a quite alarming unleashing of his loose-limbed skills, showing just how much he held back during his live performances.
He proceeds to fly around the kit, merging different drumming styles like it’s a lark.
From rock, to subtle jazzy fills, then a Bonham shuffle, with nods to Jaki Liebezeit’s motorik beat. Reni’s genius was just off the charts. The most alarming thing about it remains just how easy it was for him, making it look like a stroll in the park.
But as a performance as a band, it’s exhilarating—this is one of our exercise tunes of choice when we’re on our bike. Really gets you going.
Just on a final note as well, it’s important to remember this band defined a generation. Across the UK, The Stone Roses were the band of 1989, 1990—that generations The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin. And every bit as good and worthy.
That creative effort was paid homage to in the 2012 film Spike Island, a tribute to The Stone Roses’ legendary festival thrown for themselves in May 1990.
That film stars one Emilia Clarke, who’s pretty familiar to Game of Thrones fans as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Bit of a fact there.
Er… we haven’t seen the film. We went to the Heaton park reunion gigs in 2012 instead and saw the band play the song live.
That makes us reet proper! But you’re reet proper, too, for reading this. Champion.