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Weekend Wig-Out: Showing their stuff

19 Feb 11 | Re: Jam hot

The people in the best bands aren’t always the best musicians, but they’re often better than you think. Alex James, for example, comes across as a bit of a foppish chancer, but I have it on good authority that he is a pretty decent bass player when he wants to be. The problem is that a lot of great pop and rock songs are quite straightforward musically, and don’t give the band much scope to show what they can really do. This is a bit of a shame - imagine if Pope Sixtus had hired Michelangelo to do his chapel and then decided he wanted the whole thing magnolia. It would have been a lovely, even, fresh coat of magnolia, but we wouldn’t have got to see the full glory of God’s creation. Equally, to get the full glory of God’s musical creation, you need a wig-out.

This week’s is:

I Am The Resurrection by the Stone Roses     Listen up!

This well-realised wig-out is the last track on the Stone Roses’ debut album (ignore anybody who tells you there are more tracks tacked on the end - that’ll be some non-canonical reissue). Having spent the album showing everyone what great songs they have, this is the track where the band cut loose and show off the musicianship they have hinted at over the preceding half hour or so. It’s a real treat: Squire, Brown, Mani and Reni were all great individually, and I’m sure I’m not the first person to say that we find them combining perfectly here.

The song starts with a few bars of drums before the bass and vocals come in. The guitar doesn’t start up until the first bridge - which, unusually for bridges, doesn’t lead into a chorus. Instead, the band alternate verses and bridges, each time making as if to go into a chorus but coming back round and starting up the next verse. (This non-standard, patient song structure is the kind of clue that suggests a longer-than-average song, and so it is to prove.)

Throughout these verses and bridges, the guitar gets steadily livelier and the drumming more urgent. Then after the third bridge comes the triumphant chorus, where Ian Brown kind of gets away with proclaiming himself the Resurrection. Then there’s one of John Squire’s lovely, melodic guitar solos, but only a quick one, before another chorus and a scratchy breakdown bit that acts as the prelude to the wigging proper. Just after three and a half minutes (when, remember, most pop songs are winding down) a crashing cymbal is the starting pistol that says to the band: on your marks, get set, jam!

For the rest of the song, the Roses display the full range of their box of tricks, from funky jamming to melodic soloing to percussive grooving to vaguely Indian chiming. After a couple of minutes they stop dead for four seconds, until a classic baggy lick from Mani starts them up again (Alex James would have been paying attention). And on they go, eventually becoming more serene as the chiming comes to the fore and the drums drop out; then the chiming fades as well, and a little bit of funk briefly fades up and down again by way of a goodbye.

Lastly, it should be noted that this tune has unusually good lyrics for a wig-out. It’s actually one of the very top, classic break-up songs, and is wickedly biting in places. So well done there.

Time to rate this wig-out:

Total wig-out points: 15

That’s actually the lowest wig-out score so far, but dismayed Roses fans might console themselves by remembering that this was a bit of a pioneering wig-out that paved the way for lots of other bands to develop the concept further.

Posted by DENVER (THE LAST DINOSAUR) at 16:22

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