Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Stone Roses - Fools Gold

Widely viewed as possibly The Stone Roses best track, Fool's Gold was originally not meant to be an A-side at all. The song's first introduction to the public came when it featured as the B-side to What The World Is Waiting For. However, when promo copies of the song were sent out, feedback was almost unanimously positive for the B-side, which had a very distinctive funky sound to it. As such, it was eventually remade an A-side for the second pressing  and it went on to become 1989's biggest selling independent single. It was also to become the groups first top 10 hit in the UK and they performed the song on Top of The Pops in what was to be their only appearance on the show. The song is based around a sample from James Brown's track "Funky Drummer", which John Squire discovered in a rather unusual situation. Following a singing of the bands then-current single, She Bangs The Drums, each band member were given the opportunity to select a number of albums by way of a thank you. John Squire chose a breakbeats album, purely because the artwork of the album appealed to him, and on this compilation was Funky Drummer. John then looped the sample, and wrote a guitar riff over the top. The bassline is also sampled from Young MC's "Know How". Mani was a frequent visitor to the Hacienda nightclub and would hear the track on regular rotation. It more or less goes without saying then that this track sees the band at their most funk oriented, and it definitely is a shift from their seminal self titled debut album in terms of sound. Even though it was included on the 1989 re-release edition of The Stone Roses, I personally don't think it fits in very well really. The album is mostly guitar pop in sound but ends with a longer and much harder sounding groove-oriented track. Lyrically, the song is about greed and the corruptions that come with it. The lyrics themselves were inspired by the 1948 movie "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" which tells the story of three men who decide to come together to go in search of gold in 1920's Mexico. One of the members of the group predicts trouble ahead in their quest, but this doesn't deter them. Sure enough, they end up turning against each other as their quest for gold corrupts them as power struggles sit in. Its basic story has happened many times in the music industry, and the lyrics were also a reflection of such troubles brewing within the Stone Roses camp itself. The song comes in a shorter edit thats not much over 4 minutes, but for me the best way to enjoy this song is the longer version which winds up nearing 10 minutes long. The song has such an irresistible and understated groove to it that the minutes literally fly in whilst listening to it! The song is still widely praised to this day and has been sampled in numerous recordings since from Run DMC to Bananaramma and it's not hard to see why, this is one of the finest songs to come out of a city that has a vast amount of brilliant music to choose from. A masterpiece!

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