Here’s a clip of Ex-Stone Roses axeman and all-around Brit-pop guitar hero John Squire with his band The Seahorses, playing their sole 1997 hit “Love is the Law” as taken from their album Do It Yourself.
In Britain the Stone Roses cast a long shadow, having been nearly universally loved by both indie fans and dance music fans. The band, co-led by Squire and singer Ian Brown, had been successful in bringing the two seemingly disparate worlds together along with other bands of the early 90s era like Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, and Inspiral Carpets. But, the Roses had the distinct advantage over and above their peers; they put out a signature album that was lauded as a masterpiece of the scene, that being their self-titled debut in 1989.
The debut record seemed like the resurrection of the rock scene. The genius of it was that it took many of its cues from the Manchester dance club scene too, as typified by what was going on at the Hacienda where bands like New Order were the leaders of the scene. The debut ensured that the Roses would be recognized as one of the great British bands of the era, with many fans eager to hear what they would come up with next.
However, the follow-up album took five years to make, and when it hit, it came off as something of a disappointment even though it is a solid effort. Brown and Squire were at odds creatively and personally. And with a record killed by its own hype, plus inter-band tensions, the group understandably disbanded officially in 1996.
For me, by the time I’d heard this record, I’d yet to hear anything from the Roses. I was living in England at the time, and knew the Roses only by reputation. This helped my view of “Love is the Law”, which is a bit more ‘rock’ than anything off of The Stone Roses. Squire’s chops as a guitarist were undeniable, pulling from the styles of 60s and 70s influences, yet sounding thoroughly modern and fresh at the same time. Much like the eagerness fans experienced in waiting for the Roses to follow up their debut, there was a great deal of expectation surrounding this new band and their new album too.
But, I just thought it was a great slab of British rock music – anthemic, melodic, and with sterling guitar playing too without being flashy. Unfortunately, it went nowhere in terms of establishing a new career and band for Squire. After the innovations of the Stone Roses, this new band were largely looked upon as being ordinary, which wasn’t what Squire had been known for by any stretch. After a tour, and studio disagreements, the group split in 1999, not having put out a follow-up.
Squire is clearly a gifted player, with an ability of taking his influences and doing something really new and musically energizing. His career and ability are not unlike another arguably underachieving Mancunian guitar hero – Johnny Marr. Yet, even Marr found his way on to the records of others, and eventually found a new band too in Modest Mouse. Let’s hope Squire’s solo career, with two albums put out, will frame his playing as it should.
For more information about John Squire, check out http://www.john-squire.com/