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THE STONE ROSES

While The Stone Roses’ self-titled debut album is an all-time classic that the band never came close to bettering, it could have turned out a very different record. As The Stone Roses turns 30, John Earls speaks to producer John Leckie… and also hears from Peter Hook about how he nearly produced the album instead…

By the time The Stone Roses started work on their debut album, they’d already used three different producers on their first three singles. Released in 1985, debut single So Young dates from when the band were still a five-piece, featuring original bassist Pete Garner and additional guitarist Andy Couzens. So Young was produced by Martin Hannett. He may have worked magic on fellow Mancs Joy Division and later Happy Mondays, but Hannett’s doomy default sound was all wrong for The Stone Roses.

Early, muddier versions of This Is The One and I Wanna Be Adored were part of the Hannett sessions, eventually released against the band’s wishes in 1996 as the album Garage Flower. Couzens had left by the time Sally Cinnamon became the Roses’ first single as a four-piece. Released in 1987 on Revolver, Sally Cinnamon was recorded at The Cottage, a Macclesfield studio funded by Ian Curtis and produced by the band alongside Curtis’ widow Deborah Curtis’ then-partner, Simon Machan.

It wasn’t until Mani replaced Garner in autumn 1987 that, three years after their first gig, The Stone Roses were ready. With one of rock ‘n’ roll’s all-time great rhythm sections now in place, recording Elephant Stone at the start of 1988 was the first work of the classic Roses. It was produced by New Order bassist Peter Hook.

Hook had befriended Roses manager Gareth Evans when he and Bernard Sumner frequented Evans’ club International. “Gareth was, and is, fucking bonkers,” says Hook.

“Whenever we were in his club, he’d leave me eight cans of Red Stripe and Bernard a bottle of Pernod and a bottle of orange juice. Then he’d scamper off, so you never really got to talk to him.” It was during a “rare” chat about music that Evans asked Hook to produce the Roses. “They’d not had a great time with Martin and they’d had to do Sally Cinnamon themselves,” says Hook. “At that point, I’d have produced anybody, I was so in love with music. And the Roses were great, very cool, and as mad as their manager.”

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