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The Stone Roses: War and Peace
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
When I read the fantastic Intro to this book, I thought Spence had at last done what Stone Roses fans wanted -- delivered a scholarly, well-researched and sources-cited, well-written, thorough account of the band's rise and fall. The introduction details the famous Spike Island concert on May 27th, 1990, and does a wonderful job of painting a portrait of it, far better than any descriptions we've yet seen.

From there, however, the book declines. Strangely, the early sections about Squire, Brown, and co.'s youth, and the latter sections about the Second Coming and its 1995 tour, are for some reason far more interesting and well-written than the coverage of the classic 1989-90 period when the band was at its peak of musical/cultural importance. Those sections seem to speed by, and reveal nothing new or of particular interest. After the band disappear in mid-1990 (for four-and-a-half years, as it turned out), the tone of the book becomes clinical and technical, far too tied up in legal matters and we lose sight of The Roses themselves (you know, those people who actually make the music). Kudos to Spence, however, for revealing lots of new information about this period and about the Second Coming... however, by this point in the narrative, he's lost all touch with the people that are the band. If you're curious what, say, John Squire thought and felt about becoming a famous guitar-slinger in the course of a few months, or how this affected his personal life, you've come to the wrong book, because you won't find out here. Spence also falls well short on musical analysis, of which there's nearly none.

Few band's histories have been as error-laden as The Roses', through three full-length books (two not bad -- this one and Robb's; one atrocious -- Middles'). As one random example of an error by Spence, here's a quote regarding the first 'comeback' concert in Oslo, on April 19th, 1995:

"The gig, the Roses' first live date since June 1991, did not go well. After twenty minutes, frustrated with how the band were sounding, Squire smashed his guitar and walked off stage. Mani smashed his bass." [p.230]

In actual fact:
-- It was the first live date since June 1990 -- Spence is off by an entire year
-- After twenty minutes, the band were into 'Daybreak', which Squire played through in its entirely
-- Squire did not smash his guitar at this gig at all (he did, several days later, in Copenhagen)
-- Squire did not walk off stage at all
-- Mani did not smash his bass at all (he did this in Atlanta, USA, a month later)

So, there's four errors in just two sentences. All the sources carefully cited by Spence thus amount to nothing, since the book clearly wasn't fact-checked.

Whether a curious fan chooses John Robb's zealous, exciting, and horribly written and edited bio, or this adequate-in-most-respects-but-lacking-zeal product depends on one's preference. Robb is more like a excitable fanboy, and Spence more of a proud but distant researcher -- unfortunately, neither is much of a writer and the Roses are ill-served again (which makes me think that Ian Brown's telling Reni -- at the moment the Roses decided to reform -- to cut off all ties with Spence was a very good idea!).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you agree with the latter part of this review title you'll love this. I consider myself a fan but learnt a great deal from the story, which rollercoasters like any good tale. After reading on the Kindle I'm even keen to buy the hard copy for the photos! A fantastic account.
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