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en: Second Coming (The Stone Roses album) [info]
There are some who will say that Second Coming is a cursed album. For many, it will forever be tainted by its overly long gestation, emerging as it did five years after The Stone Roses' masterful debut.
For others, its problems lie in the band's surrender of their hazy pop sound in favour of a dirty blues rock borrowed heavily from Led Zeppelin. And finally there is the fact that this is a document of the death throes of a once great and adored band: this is the album which destroyed them.
Second Coming was never a particularly accessible album. Breaking Into Heaven takes four-and-a-half minutes of tribal drumming, swampy atmospherics and occasional blasts of guitar before it actually gets going. When it does it is a groove-laden blues opus, complete with extensive solos (yes, plural), highlighting all the practice that John Squire put in while the Roses were spending five years in legal wrangles with their previous record company.
This guitar-led formula dominates the album, yet it only throws up one song that reaches the heights of their first: the masterful Love Spreads. There are good moments dotted throughout, the languid roll of Daybreak and the pure energy of Begging You in particular, but whereas their early days were marked by an optimism and ambition that captured the hearts of a generation, this is an altogether darker and more aggressive beast.
The softer touch that marked their eponymous debut does occasionally make an appearance. Your Star Will Shine is a stumbling, staggering folky ballad that you can't help but be touched by, while Ten Storey Lovesong takes the Roses back to their Byrds-influenced psychedelic heyday, and is the only other song after Love Spreads that runs the first album close.
Listening to it now, one cannot help think that Ian Brown's endearing everyman appeal makes as strong a case as Squire's self-indulgent guitar solos for the argument that there is more to great music than sheer technical prowess.