Instagram Soundcloud Spotify

Review: The Stone Roses’ “All For One”

Written by:

It’s SO good to have the Stone Roses back.

They look great, they sound great and they’re about to release a new album, so after 22 years away, all is well.

Or is it?

22 years can do a lot of stuff to a person, to a life and to a band.

“Time flies over us,” Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote. “But leaves its shadow behind.”

The Stone Roses left a mighty shadow behind when they called it a day, even though when they did they were two members shy of the band they once were. Already a skeleton of their former selves, they pulled their baggy bus to the side of the road in 1996 and let Britpop whoosh past them in a flurry of Gallaghers and Albarns who had studied the ‘Roses playbook and were employing the Masters’ tactics to great effect.

But all that’s water under the bridge, yes? No need to break down what tore the band apart or even what’s put them back together.

Today is a momentous day: The Stone Roses are back. The album is on the way, but the single has arrived.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

The Stone Roses–“All For One”

00:00: I’m troubled by the title of this song. It’s so…common. And I fear on the other end of an “all for one” there’s surely to be a “one for all.”

00:07: A slow fade in gives way to a lone John Squire guitar lick that twists and turns with welcome melodic muscle.

00:08: Welcome back, Ian Brown! Though certainly never blessed with Liam-like pipes, Brown’s familiar croon sounds fabulous. Ageless, strong and marvelous.

00:17: Brown’s first strike is a mention of the song’s title and I have no issue with that.

00:20: However, as I thought, the flip of that is an “…and one for all.” It sounds good, but it’s so cliche’, it’s hard to get past it. But we must. It’s far too early to call the fight and things are sure to get better, so…

00:26: Brown just followed that bit up with, “If we all join hands/We’ll make a wall.” What the fuck? I know he’s going for a “One Love” stadium uniting vibe here, but not only does it make little sense, it seems perfectly suited for Trump to blare from the rafters on his presidential campaign of xenophobia…

00:26: Had to hit pause. Feeling slightly teary.

00:27: The rhythm section just kicked the fuck in. Mani and Reni sound awesome and their collective crunch will surely wash away one of the worst couplets in rock and roll history. Yes, I said it. History.

00:42: All is just about forgiven. Ten seconds of utter ‘Roses instrumental heaven–chiming, swerving perfection.

00:43: Brown is back and he’s repeating the “all for one” bit and it’s just awful.

1:09: He’s still doing it. He won’t stop. This can’t be the song, can it? The band sounds great, but this is insufferable. Only two minutes or so to go–can anything save this?

1:20: HELLO. Now we’ve got something. Brown has shifted the lyrics and the band has shifted with him. Brown sings, “Inside of me, for all to see/In harmony, all designed to be/The mystery, all eyes can see/Chemistry, all one family” while the rhythm section wails behind him with heart and nerve. AWESOME. If only the song started here. Because this is where it really starts. Holy shit. The ‘Roses are back!!!!!

1:48: After twenty seconds of pure pop perfection, we’re back to the wall bit again. Brown is clinging to this the way you cling to the side of the pool when you’re first learning to swim. For fuck’s sake, boy, get some confidence.

1:57: Well, he mixed it up with an “If we take a stand/We shall not fall.” But is that enough? And what does that mean?

2:02: Back to the propulsive “Inside of me” jam–it’s rock solid, so it’s a welcome return. But does this song only have these components?

2:30: Almost thirty seconds of greatness–I feel like there’s two songs here on top of each other. Problem is, one of them sucks.

2:30: Spacey breakdown gives way to a fucking killer Squire solo.

2:52: Back to the “Inside of me” verse.  Or is it the chorus? I’m still not sure. But it rules. And Reni is destroying behind the kit. That my friends, is a rock and roll drummer.

3:00″ And we’re back to building a wall again. A chanting outro that’s a premeditated plea for an audience to act it out, all unified, drunk and weird. What kind of wall would that be? A wobbly one, at best. Still, this is a likely rousing show-stopper, but altogether, it’s not a great song.

Verdict: A mixed start, but not an unpromising one. The band still has majesty, but it’s not here.