ANY OTHER NAME
With the Stone Roses” biggest Scottish gig about to take place, Alastair Mabbott prunes their myth.
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, freaking hysterical stoned. But this was 1984, not 1967, and ifthey weren‘t the best minds oftheir generation, they were at least pretty good people to hang out with of a long evening. And as far as they knew, they were living the dying echoes of a bygone era, clinging to dog-cared copies of Crowley. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test or maybe some more obscure tomes passed down by an older brother lucky enough actually to remember the halcyon days of hippy.
The funny thing was that the idea that the pendulum would swing back again, and a new drug’n‘vibes culture would explode into something huge and tantalisingly dangerous, never occurred to the retro-hippies until the thing was in full swing. And the ironic thing is that many ofthem, with their inbuilt disdain for dance music, couldn‘t get into it when it did, but stayed at home with their Floyd records like they had for the better part of a decade. Missed the boat again.
In 1986—87 the music press was casting around for the New Punk, working on the spurious rule of thumb that musical revolutions
occurred about every 10 years, and settled on American rap as the revolutionary new thing. It was an unsatisfying answer to a boring question, and the constant harping about punk confused the issue anyway. Meanwhile. in Manchester‘s famous Hacienda nightclub, groovers of all persuasions were getting down to the House Sound ofChicago, before the rest ofthe country knew that it existed. The movement that expressed itself in such diverse places as 808 State‘s ‘Pacific State‘ and the 21-inch cuffs of Ian Brown‘s trousers (even Prince's announcement of ‘the new power generation‘ seemed more in tune with the happenings in the north of England than those in Paisley Park studios) was incubated in a scene that resembled more the Northern Soul weekenders than nights down the 1()()Club.
Tony Wilson, Chieftain of Manchester's Factory Records, Granada presenter and all-round trumpet-blower, overstated the case in his accustomed manner.
‘This movement now is the only one created by the working class. McCartney was middle class, The Beatles were middle class, The Clash
were middle class, the hippies were middle class.‘
Under all the tosh was a kernel of truth, that a working class phenomenon is in the ascendant, in its initial stages at least undiluted by the music industry. Its no coincidence that music and football have never been so close, or that the England world cup song should be by confirmed Mancunian dance fans New Order.
The hyper-elitist clubbing explosion that was the first movement of note in the 80s had filtered down to a democratic base. The warehouse parties and the acid house all—nighters that followed them were, like the Northern Soul nights, for dedicated marathon-dancers; and, like the Mods‘ nights out, alcohol was a less central factor than other stimulants. Mods, working class hipsters, took speed to keep them dancing the whole weekend. The new breed dropped Ecstasy, similar in construction to speed, which created a milder form of the LSD trip. and from there on, parallels break down. Because this eclectic cult — Stone Roses singer Ian Brown recalls going to Northern Soul all-nighters in Rotherham and Doncaster at the
2The List 1- l4June 1990.