The Stone Roses’ frontman Ian Brown once quipped that the only thing Manchester lacked was a beach. Obviously he’ll not be going apeshit to get one of these lush box sets like the rest of us, then. Twenty years down the line and the dust has robustly settled on the sleeve of this eponymous debut, today seen as the cultural touchstone for a generation and an album that genuinely changed lives.
This Collector’s Edition could equally be titled the ‘Obsessive Fan Edition’, such is its comprehensive documenting of the Roses’ first flowering. It presents a remastered version of the album (by original producer John Leckie and Ian Brown himself), an Extras disc drawing together the band’s always-essential b-sides and single edits, and a further disc of Lost Demos, made up of work-in-progress sketches of the album’s tracks. It’s a unique window into the cast-in-stone LP versions. Its biggest attraction is the previously unreleased song, ‘Pearl Bastard’ – exciting news to any Roses fan indeed, but sadly it’s not up to that other ‘previously unreleased’ Roses song, ‘Where Angels Play’, and its gossamer gorgeousness.
You also get the album and the contents of the Extras disc on vinyl, a DVD of the legendary Blackpool Empress Ballroom show, a 48-page book and a lemon-shaped USB stick with digital versions of all the audio tracks, amongst some rather unnecessary content. (Five backwards versions and ringtones? We could have lived without them.)
Clearly not intended for the casual listener, the Collector’s Edition will find a willing market with those original fans, now in their mid-30s and with cash enough to splurge, or for fresh indie hopefuls who worship at the church of the Roses, or just for anyone who wants the most complete take on the peerless first phase of the Roses’ heartbreakingly curtailed career.
Effectively serving as a time capsule for generations of music fans to come, ‘The Stone Roses’ is the faultless example of a debut album presented in a lovingly crafted package with all the pomp and circumstance it deserves. You need this in your lives.
Also available is the two-CD, one-DVD Legacy version – a cheaper, but far less comprehensive repackaging.
The Stone Roses