The Stone Roses


Music has for close to fifty years been a key component of the jigsaw of my life. I have loved music since I was a child captured by the exotica associated with some fine recording artists including Three Bob’s, Dylan – see my earlier post here – Bob Dylan  – Marley and Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, The Eagles, The Doors, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones and Tom Waits.

In later years, and for the best part of quarter of a century, I earned my living in the Law, specifically Music Law representing some fascinating entrepreneurs, vagabonds and minstrels. It paid the bills and kept my music opiates topped up. I met some truly extraordinary people, who often lived complicated but wonderful lives devoted to engaging and entertaining others. Equally, I have met a fair proportion of consummate egoists, disinterested in those who don’t pander to them.

Simply put, music talks to my soul. It evokes memories. It causes the recall of sights, sounds and emotions.

Asked for my favourite song – that’s easy – U2’s “One”. I can rarely listen that complete wonder of a composition without tears in my eyes.

My favourite – what we used to call “Album” – being a collection of several songs that the artist (or their record company) has deliberately chosen to join together in some overall theme, concept or message. Honestly, again, that’s an easy one, the 1989 iconic debut album of the Manchester band “The Stone Roses” is simply one of the most complete and luxuriously beautiful bodies of work ever collected onto a 12” vinyl record, 4” digital CD or stream.

Depending on the format and country of release, “The Stone Roses” comprises a minimum of 12 recording that lasso a time, a mood and a vibe of the UK pre-BritPop explosion of the early 1990’s. Along with fellow Manc, The Happy Mondays, this album defined an era and is the soundtrack to the lives of me and many of my contemporaries.

Ian Brown (vocals) and John Squire (guitars) who had known each other from Altrincham Grammar School For Boys – somewhere I often played rugby on Saturday mornings in the late 1970’s – formed and disbanded several bands prior to being joined by Gary “Mani” Mounfield (bass) and Alan John “Reni” Wren (drums) to form The Stone Roses (Squire’s name), a guitar indi-rock band that sprung from the vibrant Madchester scene of the UK’s second city.


Having composed and recorded songs for a demo, the band sent out 100 demo cassettes that featured the artwork of Squire, a very talented fine artist. This was followed by touring, further production and the release of some tracks to little commercial effect.

In August 1988 the band played Dingwalls in London in the presence of A&R representatives from South African owned label, Zomba and Geoff Travis one of the founders of the seminal indie, Rough Trade.

Rough Trade paid for some studio time and suggested Peter Hook bassist with New Order as a potential producer, when Hook was unavailable, Geoff suggested John Leckie a former Abbey Road award winning producer with an amazing production pedigree including Pink Floyd, XTC and Radiohead. The Stone Rose were signed to Zomba by Roddy McKenna and appeared on Andrew Lauder and Andy Richmond’s  Silvertone inprint. Rough Trade sold their tapes of “Elephant Stone” to Zomba.

Singles from the eponymous album were released in early 1989 and drew the attention of the all important Radio One. The Album, with John Squire/Jackson Pollock inspired artwork, was released on 2nd May 1989, went on to win the NME Reader’s Poll for Best Album of the Year. The Album is certified in the UK as triple platinum, notching sales in excess of 900,000 units.

To add a copy of The Stone Roses to your collection – click the link below the image:


The Stone Roses (20th Anniversary Legacy Edition)

Images used with grateful thanks – Sony Music and Ian Tilton/NME

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Arctic Monkeys “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”


Here’s my 10 cents on the recent release by these icons of British music.

The Arctic Monkeys are not the same band they were in 2006 with “Whatever People say I am….” but twelve years on their songwriting and musicianship have matured, wonderfully.

“Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is varied, complex and above all box-fresh.

I suspect the intention may be for it to be seen as a concept album – and here an ace is scored. It is also aimed at dissuading the purchase of single tracks – the scourge of the album market – and arguably disrespectful to an artist’s creative intentions.

As a piece of standalone mastery, it is a class all its own. That said stand-out tracks for me include the title track, “Four Out Of Five”, the more classic AM “Science Fiction” and “The Ultracheese”. Alex’s delivery is as usual, Sheffield steel and the reverb is wonderful.

The homage to Bowie is well done and there are so many film soundtracks and sound beds for commerials their music publishers must be thrilled!

Great job lads, brilliantly executed.


In case you thought I was alone in loving this new album, then you’d be wrong! The judging panel of influential Q Magazine have just announced that “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” has been given the accolade of “Album of the Year 2018”.

Read the report here from the Irish Independent Tranquility Base Album of the Year 2018 – Q Magazine

Do yourself a favour and get a copy for the car and/or the turntable by clicking the Amazon link below the image on the album’s cover.


Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

In case you have not already heard the stunning debut album by the Arctic Monkeys from 2006 “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” please click on the Amazon link below the image to secure a CD or vinyl.

Remember this album not only won the Mercury Prize it was also the fastest selling debut Album ever in the history of the UK Charts!


Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Image credits – with grateful thanks – Domino Recordings Limited

Banksy – at last unmasked?

Banksy 2

Dominic Baker, in his excellent Aestheticons piece a few weeks ago, cast an artist’s view over the work and influence of the iconic street artist “Banksy”. See Dominic’s piece here Banksy

Dominic’s piece drew an amazing reaction from our Aestheticons’ audience, who clearly enjoyed not only his excellent study but also revealed a profound interest in Banksy, his work and rather sadly, his identity.

Tantalising pieces appear in publications all over the world seeking to unmask Banksy – today’s Daily Mail being a typical example – here Banksy at last unmasked

Why? I am not sure what difference it would make. I like the guerrilla even anonymous nature of his work, often under cover of darkness, a new and challenging piece of art is born.

Banksy by Dominic Baker

Artist and regular Aestheticons’ contributor, Dominic Baker, looks at the work of Banksy who challenges, amuses and views the “purpose” of Art thus: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” 

Banksy FI

Where do I begin to describe one of the most influential artists of our generation? Unless you have no discernible interest in popular culture, you will certainly have found yourself looking at one of Banksy’ many sensationalist works.

Banksy 1

His mission is to shock and awe. To make you consider your surroundings, open your eyes to the many ways that capitalism, war, censorship and systems of control oppress you. To turn taste on its head. Banksy is massively relevant, shocking and uses a brand new format that took traditional graffiti art by storm.

Banksy Police

The cardboard stencil known as the ‘throw up’. It is quick to spray, accurate and detailed. His modus allows him to hit several spots in one night and do small eye catching pieces in very public places that are unavailable to others. Thus he avoids capture and has remained largely anonymous to this day.

Banksy 2

Originating from Bristol in the early 1990’s, most early work was freehand. Known for  its massive graff scene and underground music with a subversive  anti-culture bubbling just under the surface. Banksy was heavily influenced by the graffiti artist and rapper, Robert “3D” del Naja and Grant Marshall who went on to form  Massive Attack with Tricky and others.

Banksy met the photographer Steve Lazarides who sold some of his works eventually becoming his agent. He travelled all over the UK, but especially London, to deliver his politically charged messages.

Banksy ILNY

In the early 2000’s he started to do exhibitions: 2002 – Existencilism in Los Angeles, 2003 – Turf Wars in London – where he gave a very rare interview. In 2005, he went to Palestine and did some iconic work on the infamous Israeli West Bank Wall.

2006 saw an exhibition called Barely Legal which featured a famously painted with Indian motifs and very much alive elephant thereby courting controversy with animal rights activists.

2009 saw Banksy’s biggest exhibition to date, at the Bristol Museum featuring over 100 works, which proved hugely popular. Banksy and Lazarides also parted company in 2009.

In 2010, ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop‘ was aired at Robert Redford’s Sundance Festival in Utah and went on to be nominated for an Oscar.

2015 saw the opening of ‘Dismaland‘ a bemusement park – a none too subtle dig at Disneyland – in collaboration with other iconic artists including Damien Hurst and Jenny Holzer. Everything was supposed to be disappointing, dull, darkly humorous with digs at capitalism and the pro-environmental lobby, even the staff were told to be sullen and uncooperative!

This Behemoth of a social and cultural icon who so cleverly reflects on social ethics, will, I believe, be studied by art student in years to come. He will be as revered and revolutionary in 100 years time as Salvador Dali, Matisse & Picasso were to their era.

Banksy is still out there challenging the status quo, still ‘flipping the bird’ to the authorities and pushing the malleable boundaries in taste. Much of his artwork is now sold for millions and not covered over, which some have said has killed the underground scene.

For now, we pay our respects to the world’s most successful living and still anonymous artist, Banksy.

Banksy statement image