One More For The Dreamers

The Stone Roses' 'Second Coming'

With rumours of a reunion stirred and quashed on the same day last month, the palpable thirst for the return of The Stone Roses was as strong as ever. The inevitable disappointment led us to remember, however, their 1994 comeback sophomore album – come with us now as we revisit the difficult and much-maligned ‘Second Coming’.

“Remember the film, Apocalypse Now?” asks producer Paul Schroeder, leaning forward on the sofa of his manager’s modest North London office. He is searching for a way of conveying the atmosphere of eight months spent at the helm of the Stone Roses’ protracted Second Coming recording sessions at Rockfield.

With genuine enthusiasm, he will later claim the group’s turbulent story should have been made into a film. Suddenly, Francis Ford Coppola’s gargantuan Vietnam epic, portraying Captain Willard’s journey into the heart of darkness springs to mind.

“I think the band just thought, ‘Never get off the boat.’ So we stayed,” he recalls of this musical voyage, “and it was like going up the river together. But that had a massive toll on the record‘s making.”

Even his studio compatriot and production successor, Simon Dawson, has insisted that the Roses’ second album was made to sound like music from the riverbank. “I didn’t think of it as my boat,” Schroeder is keen to stress as a fellow passenger on this long and winding trail. “We all helped steer it where it had to be.”

Having granted me a rare interview, I meet Schroeder in Islington before talking to fellow Roses producer John Leckie about their involvement in making one of the early Nineties’ most eagerly-anticipated records. The historical verdict on Second Coming seems to have become conclusive: while its glorious eponymous predecessor was a joy to record, this darker, troubled successor proved a nightmare.

Memories of the sessions seem to have produced something of a collective, retrospective shudder. Guitarist John Squire has conceded the uncomfortable experience of this troubling period, while bassist Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield has insisted the Roses were a dysfunctional unit whilst making this record.

After being released from their Silvertone Records contract following protracted court proceedings against the label in spring 1991, the Roses swiftly signed with American major label Geffen. They were duly given creative freedom and a substantial seven-figure advance.

Having rapidly reached the brink of an international breakthrough, the world was left to wait and wonder what on earth was happening. “They’d created this thing together,” Schroeder explains, “and people had been f***ing it up, basically. Zomba were taking them to court, not necessarily allowing them to record with anyone else. That can affect you.”

Considering the momentum and huge following behind them, Ian Brown has admitted the Roses could have worked out a follow-up LP that may have continued in the rhythmic, dance-guitar funk groove of ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘One Love’. Despite his dance background, Schroeder feels that a syncopated club music direction would have proved a creative dead-end. “They weren‘t going to want to remake anything. The idea was to get back to roots, rather than sounding like a remix of one of the best bands in the world.”

More than one insider insists that the Roses should have taken the sizeable Geffen recording advance and run. I asked Leckie whether he ever doubted their working relationship would be rekindled. “No,” Leckie chuckles down the phone line, “I never doubted it at all. I knew I would. I would have been very surprised if they’d gone in with someone else.” He did, however, anticipate a certain chaos might unfold when he reconvened with the group in the spring of 1992.

APRIL 1992

The Stone Roses are stationed in the comfortable rural locale of The Old Brewery, a centuries-old country estate in Ewloe, North Wales. The group are enjoying some downtime during the opening recording session for the follow-up to the era-defining The Stone Roses.

With few roguish distractions in this quiet corner of Clwyd, Leckie and the group have congregated around the studio TV. Easter Monday’s typically mundane television viewing throws up an inspiring new lead as they watch the classic Boer War saga Zulu. “It was that Sixties war film set in South Africa, with Michael Caine. And we were really getting off on the music,” Leckie recalls. “It was the Zulu war dance thing, and we said, ‘Hey, we should use that!’”

Having started work on an ambitious track entitled ‘Breaking Into Heaven’, Leckie resolves to record the mesmerising tribal drum pattern directly from the TV with a microphone.“That was the drumbeat that comes in and fades up in the introduction. No one has ever said it, but that’s exactly what happened. The drums and the atmosphere are an epic thing from an epic film. We’d use anything that inspired us.”

With the Roses intent on writing and working up new material, Leckie had hired the legendary, 24-track Rolling Stones Mobile recording facility. The Stones had famously used it to record Exile on Main Street, and it had played host to classic recordings by Deep Purple, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin.

The opening four-week session was a genuinely productive period, including work on the album’s eventual opening three tracks. Things looked, and sounded, good. Already earmarked as the new album’s opening track, days were spent honing the tempo, arrangement and the shuffling loop of ‘Breaking Into Heaven’.

Squire laid down constant feedback guitar to create layered harmonies, while programmer Brian Pugsley manipulated sound effects to develop its sonic texture. For Pugsley, the music was on constant loop from the moment he pressed ‘go.’ Studio session bootlegs reveal Leckie’s vetoed version as an up-tempo rendition, entering the fray after an effects-laden introduction.

Their eventual November 1994 ‘resurrection’ release ‘Love Spreads’ was already staking its claim as a clear single contender. Recorded at dawn or at dusk, with a loop running through it, or with the whole group playing together or at a slower tempo, four or five passable versions were taped.

Creatively inspired by what they were doing, the group’s old bonhomie still sparkled. But as a foretaste of things to come, the group’s equipment provided a convenient excuse for their non-productivity. “It was a bit like Spinal Tap,” Leckie remembers. ‘I can’t play my drums because I don’t have my new drumsticks’ or ‘I can’t play my bass because I don’t have the proper amp.’”

While Leckie rarely felt he’d captured that magic take, he argued the group wanted to make each song special. “They wouldn’t just bash them out; when you go back to the first album you can see that.” The Stone Roses was recorded by a well-rehearsed group strongly familiar with their material. This time, the Roses had barely played or rehearsed together since the Silvertone affair, with Squire and Brown having maybe nine months to write fresh material. “There was always a shortage of songs,” Leckie concedes.

Riding a thumping, cyclical groove, various renditions of ‘Driving South’ were also road-tested. “We had a lot of loops going, but I don’t know why ‘cos it’s a rock ‘n’ roll song! Reni was kind of keen, Mani was keen on it, but I wasn’t.” During the second half of the session, the Roses focused their attention on a fourth new song.

Working on editing loops and samples from drum solos, movie sound effects and studio feedback, they made forays into the techno-guitar crossover cut ‘Begging You’. “It was made up in the studio, and was always going to expand,” Leckie enthused. “It was there. Whatever version they used, it would have worked.”

Inside the four walls of the compact truck, Public Enemy and assorted NYC hip-hop was essential listening. “I remember them all sitting together, playing this record [Fear Of A Black Planet]. Reni, Mani and Ian would sing along to the whole record; they knew every single little nuance of it,” Leckie recalls.

Squire, meanwhile, looked to this record as an inspiration for deconstructing and reassembling the Roses’ new music. This would inevitably prove challenging for a group who played so well together. “I just kept coming back to the live take,” Schroeder emphasizes, “because it worked. I couldn’t see the point of deconstructing it.”

As band members came and went, Leckie offered a wry, knowing laugh about the Roses’ attempts at playing as a group. “Because we worked in the cellars of the house, you couldn’t set up like you would in a normal studio. That didn’t help, but they did all play together, for a few days at the beginning, as they were attempting to get something down.”

Mani’s determination and Reni’s incredible, effortless fluidity was clear to Pugsley. However, Squire was frequently playing to a click track or drum machine, with Reni and Mani adding drum and bass before an endless procession of overdubs. Hadn’t Reni, the drummer of his generation, become embittered by being sidelined? “There was no friction that I saw… but yes, there could have been that thing going on,” Leckie concedes. “I can’t say there was anything different between them. John was just the way he’s always been, really. Mani and Reni would play together, and so would John.”

Leckie insists the long-standing Squire-Brown friendship, if not their creative partnership, was perfectly amicable. Seeking solitude with his Fostex 16-track machine to work on his parts, Squire’s presence was often at a premium. “John’s kind of separate but really connected, and likes to have the final say,” Leckie concedes.

Despite a strong sense of potential, a lack of material meant progress was slow. While Mani dug in and watched Carl Sagan videos, Pugsley, a fan of the late psychedelic bard Terence McKenna, discussed Leckie’s past as a former sannyasi disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. “John expounded on a teaching that once you believe in something, your critical faculties are suspended; a kind of death in fact. I was very impressed.”

The Roses also frequently indulged their new-found archery fetish on the fields adjacent to studio owner Sandy Finlay‘s property. They found a small outhouse, whose reclusive occupant boasted musical connections of his own. “A funny little guy lived there,” Leckie recalls with glee. “He had long white hair and a bald patch. Ian and the band used to talk to him. He had a little workshop, and he hand-made acoustic guitars and mandolins. And it was Elton John’s brother!”

Fortnight-long spring and early summer sessions were later booked before suffering last-minute cancellations. Leckie recalls an array of factors behind this faltering progress. “New songs weren’t ready, people were ill, Reni would go on holiday, Ian’s girlfriend was having a baby, John wanted more time to write songs. It happens all the time in studio world.”

The group returned to Ewloe between mid-July and mid-August, intending to finish what they’d started before moving on. But the days were long, often commencing at lunchtime and finishing at dawn. With copious amounts of dope being smoked, a half-hearted malaise crept in as they roamed between songs or found fault with what had been working.

With money no object, the Roses were spending £1,000 a day producing demos. The Roses have all since acknowledged this expensive creative folly. “Even at Ewloe, John [Squire] would say, ‘is this going to be the demo?’ And I’d say, ‘no it’s not – it’s the real thing.’”

A fifth new composition, ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ commanded much of their attention as Squire spent days seeking a requisite guitar sound. Leckie’s work here formed the majority of the released version, ‘a work of art’ in his estimation.

The Roses switched their attention to another reappraisal of ‘Driving South’, gradually morphing into what Leckie recognised as “a bluesy, Rolling Stones kind of thing… I daren’t say Led Zeppelin!” he laughs. His ‘mellower’ version captured Brown in a half-whispered, ‘Fool’s Gold’-like vocal mode.

Word eventually reached Brown via a primitive mobile phone of heart-warming news: the birth of his first son, Frankie. He drove into Manchester to greet his new bundle of joy. Leckie, meanwhile, advised a drifting group to return to the drawing board, avoid expensive studios, and write more songs.

Yet Geffen were content for the managerless Roses to take their time and ‘find their sound.’ Leckie dispatched rough mixes of well-received new material. “Of course, Geffen said it was great. So it was like, ‘yeah, let’s finish it.’” Leckie attempted to coax the Roses into playing an informal live show. “They’d written the songs, and there they are in the studio, having to record a definitive, satisfying version. So I said, ‘book into the pub down the road on Friday night, get your mates in, and play the songs.’”

Sensing the Roses needed to re-explore their sense of purpose, Leckie also pleaded with them to head for America. Go to New York, experience Chicago or visit LA, he urged. Take a Jack Kerouac-like road trip and re-discover yourselves. “I said, ‘Get on a train, go on a hitch hike, go to Arizona, the Grand Canyon, ‘cos they loved trekking and cycling.”

If all else fails, why not visit the record company, he suggested. “Geffen said, ‘Hey guys, come on over.’ There was their opportunity: go for three months, come back and you’ll have ten songs. It would have been great if John and Ian had done that together; things would have been different.”

JANUARY 1993

The purpose-built Square One studio, situated on a terraced street in the North Manchester suburb of Bury, stands empty. Its owner has sold the equipment and any semblance of a creative atmosphere is sadly lacking. By stifling early summer, the absence of air-conditioning will render the windowless studio room a baking oven.

Once the group’s producer arrives, recording sessions are blighted by power cuts and electrical problems. A daily rush-hour commute across Manchester from a salubrious property on the outskirts of Cheshire will prove a logistical nightmare. And with band members frequently disappearing, it was hardly the ideal scenario for a group to entrench themselves and develop a critical second album.

Reliving this fraught episode, Leckie received a call informing him that the Roses had booked Square One for a year at a discount rate to rehearse new songs. With Geffen keen to approach new managerial candidates, Leckie visited the Roses in mid-March. Pleased with their progress, he had no doubts about the calibre of the new material. “When I went to see them, it was great. They’d been coming in and writing and working on these new songs, which were ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Our Love’ and ‘JB Groover.’

In May, a taciturn Squire was found working alone when the NME’s Gina Morris tracked the Roses down. She also encountered a lead singer refusing to grant her an interview. Brown, however, always obliged when delivering his lines in the studio. “Ian always had the words; he’d never be short of words. He’d never say, ‘Oh, I haven’t written the second verse’ or ‘I wanna change the chorus.’”

But the group were struggling to find their way. Guide guitars, drums, bass and vocals were almost obligatory. “Mani wouldn’t have a bass line, or he’d want to work out another one. And you wouldn’t know what beat Reni’s on, and Ian didn’t know how strong to sing it, so you don’t know what John’s guitar will be doing.”

With sessions starting on June 1, the producer recalls their frustrated progress. “We couldn’t get anything. I kept saying, ‘wipe that; go over that. It’s not good enough.’” Leckie attempted to nail a Led-Zeppelin-infused ‘Our Love.’ Later re-titled as ‘Tears‘, it was a track which consistently left the band unconvinced. “I never got it,” he admits.

They also undertook rough run-throughs of ‘Severed Head’ (a working version of the stately ‘How Do You Sleep’), while an instrumental blues jam, JB Groover, also emerged. The band traced a ‘live’ outline for new number ‘Good Times’ and ‘Love Spreads‘ morphed into a Mississippi-derived acoustic number. Leckie also strove to translate the swamp-blues groove on ‘Driving South.’

Stationed at millionaire businessman Derek Bull’s Marple property near Stockport, band members weren’t surfacing until mid-afternoon and hadn’t eaten before Leckie arrived. A pizza delivery boy at the time, Elbow guitarist Mark Potter was astonished to find the now semi-exiled group hunkered down in the studio. “It was nine o’clock by the time we got started,” Leckie continued, “and we’d work until three or four in the morning, then drive all the way back to Marple. You’d have to drop people off, do ‘errands’ on the way the next day. It was a nightmare.” Leckie duly moved the recording to Marple for a second fortnight session.

From an acoustic campfire session came a ragged rehearsal of ‘Tightrope’. Oozing a murky, languid charm, it captures the sound of a group who’d imbibed too many substances, spent too much money and taken too long to record their songs. A Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-inspired electric version was later attempted before Schroeder insisted the group went with an acoustic version.

Wondering if he’d done enough to pull Second Coming together, Leckie’s sense of disenchantment peaked by the middle of June. “Everyone was keen, but nothing seemed to happen. Reni would go home. John would say, ‘I‘ve got the guitar part together, let‘s do it.’ But when we did it, it had to go in a different direction. Nothing blended for me to say, ‘this is the definitive version of the song.’”

Despite several assurances, meetings with Geffen A&R Gary Gersh never transpired. “I’m used to having a record company there, even if they have very strong opinions on what the record should be.” But as costs spiralled after three months, the record company were increasingly keen to hear the recordings. Squire has claimed that Leckie’s growing financial concerns pressured the group.

Working without payment, Leckie admits that “after a few months you have to ask, ‘are we on schedule here?’” Against his better judgement, he agreed to book Rockfield for July 26. “I said, ‘there’s no point going there if we’re going to do a demo.’ So I’d say, ‘can you please give me the real thing?’” With three-quarters of Second Coming written, Leckie knew this still didn’t constitute an album. Squire realised this too, and the Roses decamped to 16-track Manor Park Studio rooms at Clapton’s, a nightclub in Tintwistle near Glossop, to record a new demo that eventually reached their producer.

Spending fifteen days spread across three weeks of July sessions, engineer Mark Tolle recalled a sense of the Roses’ grievance. “They specifically said they weren’t happy and Leckie had taken too long. I think Leckie still wanted to be in control, so they were struggling with that.” Tackling one or two tracks each day, the Roses worked 12 to 16-hour shifts. Squire was fired up on the first day. Local tape op Al Shaw turned to Tolle and asked incredulously, ‘eh, is that Jimmy Page in there?!’ During a later take, an exuberant Mani snapped the neck of his Rickenbacker bass. “Mani and Reni were enthusiastic, and got stuck in,” Tolle recounts.

Tolle and Shaw were credited for their work on ‘Tears‘, ‘Tightrope’ and the rolling groove of ‘Daybreak‘, wonderfully captured live in Clapton’s rehearsal room. While Brown completed numerous unfinished lyrics in the studio, he added his final vocal for the track at Rockfield. To prevent any bootlegging of new material, Squire left Clapton’s each night armed with the multi-track masters and mixdown tapes.

The Glossop demo which Leckie heard included a lengthy ‘Severed Head’ replete with vintage Neil Young guitar licks, and a mid-tempo blues take on ‘Love Spreads’. Creative as ever, Squire’s cine camera captured footage from the Tintwistle sessions, later appearing in the ‘Love Spreads’ video.

JULY 1993

Having been persuaded to persist with the project, Leckie describes the situation in the Roses camp as “shaky” upon his arrival at Rockfield’s Old Coach House studio. “I knew it before I got there, and I think they knew it as well. We were gonna start at midday, but the gear hadn’t arrived. And the next day [July 27] I said, ‘We’re going to start at twelve o’clock’. Reni had gone home and Mani hadn’t gone to bed until 6am. No one was ready to start, and I got the sense nothing was going to change.”

Hoping his departure might shake them into action, Leckie left Rockfield after just one night. “I think the Roses were happy that something fresh was going to happen,” his successor Paul Schroeder recalls, “a fresh view on things.”

Echoing Ian Brown‘s sentiment that they‘d knock the album out to short order, the backing tracks were laid down inside three weeks. With Schroeder’s preference for the energy of live recording, a mutual appreciation for twilight creativity meant studio days often ran from 2pm until around four in the morning.

One of the highlights for Schroeder was ‘Good Times’, a slice of classic live rock ‘n’ roll. “It was fantastic. I loved the whole feel of it; they’re great lyrics. Ian does a great vocal on that.” Serious time was given to listening back over material. “We had people constantly saying, ‘Can we get this any better?’ ‘Well, we can try, but I really like this: it’s got it.’”

Brown has admitted growing impatient with the months of late night blues jams that ensued before Squire contributed endless layers of Fender Twin parts to the mix. The guitarist’s growing autonomy within the group became clear to Schroeder. “I don’t think John liked what we were doing. I think he thought it was going in a completely different direction to what he had in mind.”

Squire claims the growing difficulties in his partnership with Brown stemmed from the singer’s lack of input and disapproval of the new direction. “It had always been John and Ian in close collaboration,” Leckie notes, “but this seemed to be more of a separate thing.”

Despite the Brown-Squire dynamic having changed during Schroeder’s first three months, it was certainly workable. “You just get on with it if people aren’t communicating,” he insists. “They’ve been together since they were kids, they can communicate.”

Brown has repeatedly claimed the once tight-knit Roses sadly morphed into “the John Squire Experience.” “I guess that’s what it became,” John Leckie concurs. “They made it collectively, but it’s John’s LP. Musical democracy doesn’t always work in the studio.” The Roses had clearly ceded control of Second Coming to Squire. “There‘s nothing worse than figuring you’ve given away something you shouldn’t have done,” Schroeder observed, “and you can‘t get it back.”

Schroeder’s pedigree as a dance producer proved instrumental on ‘Begging You’, a boundary-testing dance record that explored its crossover guitar rock potential. Replete with a propulsive rhythm section, something heroic was sought to make it work. “We knew it had to sound massive, so we added helicopters and jets.” Meanwhile a rising ‘lift’ sound was sampled at Loco Studios to compliment Wren’s fantastic drum intro on ‘Ten Storey Love Song.’ The group’s enthusiasm was matched by Geffen’s excitement over its marketable quality.

Due to Geffen’s ownership of Chicago’s Chess Records, the group received boxes of blues back catalogue, containing classic recordings from John Lee Hooker and his legendary label mates. With Wren and Squire keen to explore this musical goldmine on the studio stereo, these influences were reflected in their work. Schroeder envisaged recording Brown’s voice going through an amplifier to replicate an old blues sound, while tiresome comparisons would be made between the guitar heroics of Squire and Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

Schroeder recalls encouraging Wren and Mounfield through a more “urban” version of ‘Love Spreads,’ while on ‘Driving South’ Squire was encouraged to play his cherished Page-like riff with a controlled wildness that avoided blues pastiche. The producer also recognised a tangible ‘protest’ vibe in the attitude of the songs.

‘Daybreak’ name-checked Rosalee Parks, who’d helped galvanise the American civil rights movement in the Montgomery bus boycott. Schroeder experienced something of this fervour when Brown played him a vinyl recording of a stirring Martin Luther King address. “We listened to that great speech a couple of times, and it was fantastic to hear it in its entirety through those big speakers. It’s a super emotional recording. You could feel the spirit coming down.”

Left on the backburner for some time, a question mark hung over the lengthy epic ‘Tears’. Recorded in around six hours, the Roses had doubts about the song’s strength. “I don’t know what they wanted to do with it,” admits Schroeder of his strident, melodious version. “For me, you get the passion off of it; it’s a nice take. Maybe the feel might have been too sweet.”

Brown’s insistence on recording whole vocal takes inevitably caused a few problems, taking him some time to ‘find his voice’. Engineer Mark Tolle recalled their herbal indulgences earlier that summer. “Ian did smoke a lot. They all did. But I remember Ian doing more than anyone else.” Schroeder insists the drugs certainly didn’t hamper things. “It wasn’t like a big druggy session. Don’t think that it was, because it wasn’t.”

Brown was a vociferous critic of Squire’s dalliances with cocaine, often leading to narcissistic solo guitar indulgences in the studio. Reluctant to discuss their drug intake, Schroeder denies any problems over Squire’s drug use. Squire has since claimed that a disinterested Reni had the worst attendance record, often ascribed to unsubstantiated reports of an alleged drug problem. “He was there a lot of the time, but he’d be away some of the time. If you spend so long on a record, it can get really frustrating. You either have a fight or you f**k off. It’s very simple.”

Schroeder’s admiration for Reni’s musical genius is clear. “He could play anything; a total showman. Mani was coming up with some great basslines, but Reni on bass…! He was always thinking of new ways of adding to the songs. And it took very little time to do his drums. He’d bought lots of Tibetan cymbals and he used a lot of that when he played on the ‘Breaking Into Heaven‘ intro.”

Aside from splicing a few studio touches into Leckie’s epic introduction, Schroeder had no intention of re-working his predecessor’s creation. “It does grate that one of the best things on that record isn’t me, but c’est la vie. It’s all about making the perfect record.”

Schroeder’s steady relationship with the group would inevitably be tested whilst confined to Rockfield. “I like quick records, and I thought, ‘we gotta have three weeks away from the studio!’ I thought it was unhealthy that we should all just stay there until it was done. I thought it was ridiculous. And a waste of money.”

Pressure continued to mount, not least from Geffen. A&R Tom Zutaut made three visits to Rockfield in the second half of 1993. “I’m sure they had their little beef about ‘it’s taking too long,’ but the band said, ‘It’s not ready, you can’t release something we don’t want to release.’ I don’t think the band took anything from him. It was very much, ‘you’re our business partners in the States, but let us make the record.’”

It’s highly likely that Second Coming may have emerged in early 1994, and Schroeder concedes that Geffen could have been firmer on a February release. “If we’d have come out with the record when my involvement finished, we’d have just pipped Primal Scream [and their Screamadelica follow-up Give Out But Don’t Give Up]. But they stole our thunder a little bit.”

The saddest factor to occur was the death of recently-appointed manager Philip Hall in January 1994. “I remember when Philip said that he’d have to give it up, because he was ill [with cancer],” Schroeder reflects. The news shook everyone. “He was well loved, and it was a really bittersweet thing that happened when he died.” Hall’s death was a major loss, perhaps adding an extra three months to the album’s progress, as the band came to terms with this. Second Coming would be dedicated to his memory.

Feeling responsible for ensuring Second Coming reached at least the mixing stage, Schroeder claims the album was almost ninety per cent complete when he made his exit due to prior commitments and the record’s time-devouring creation. “Things had come to an end anyway,” Schroeder admits. “The only thing to spur them into finishing it was for me to not come back: ‘you’re going to have to finish it now.’ ”
After spending the best part of eight months working alongside Schroeder, Dawson would ultimately be responsible for bringing the album, and its final two tracks (Squire‘s plaintive, melancholia-drenched ‘Your Star Will Shine’ and the affable, roaming groove of Brown‘s ‘Straight To The Man’) to completion.

Often flying a mini-plane into the Rockfield sessions, Dawson would contact the group to relay his arrival time. One day, John and Mani prepared a 50-foot phallic-shaped landing strip made out of flour.

With Oasis, the Roses’ heirs-in-waiting, busy recording Definitely Maybe down the road at Monnow Valley, the Roses were keen to hear the work-in-progress. It’s possible the material the Roses heard contributed to the months spent making song revisions and refining Squire’s guitar sound during 1994…

Squire has since conceded that an overworked Second Coming suffered due to free studio rein and lack of financial constraints. “Second Coming was always going to get slated,” insists Schroeder, who‘d envisaged a dry, funky Stevie Wonder-influenced sound as opposed to the final, reverb-swamped release, “but it was the album that they wanted to make. People seem to forget that.”

Schroeder reflects on his time during this defining experience. “Eight months..” He stares down ruefully at the cigarette in his hand, and gives a shake of the head. “It’s a long time. A long time…”

A raft of reviews in December 1994 offered as much relief as praise for the group’s long-anticipated return. Given the business pressures, relationship problems, musical challenges and personal setbacks, perhaps the dark, sprawling Second Coming’s single greatest achievement was that it ever saw the light of day.

Words by Richard White
Photos by Steve Double & John Leckie

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