I came home to an empty house recently and the Fluffy Cat followed me around, meowing. This was normal. However, I was unintentionally ignoring her since I was thinking about the newly released Stone Roses single All for One.
Aside #1 – Roses made of Stone
The Stone Roses screamed onto the British, European and world music scene in the late 80s with their self-titled, lemon-splattered album that is, to quote Noel Gallagher of Oasis, “perfect” and according to the British music journalism magazine NME “the greatest album of all time.” When I first heard it as a teenager, I realized, for the first time, that new music could be awesome and I shouldn’t be so hung up on the music of the 1960s. But… they took a while to release their second album. I waited and waited. Rumours swirled like melodies. My impatience grew to cacophony. Five years later, the Toronto radio station 102.1 The Edge announced the new Stone Roses single “Love Spreads.” I tuned in. I was… lukewarm. I wasn’t jazzed.
Hit the skip button to 2016. My question was: would I have the same reaction to All for One?
Anyway, I’d listened to the recent single All for One maybe a half-dozen times before I came home to the Fluffy Cat. I wanted to like it, and I thought I liked it. Actually, I loved it. I admired the heavily produced studio work; the bassline was awesome; the drums were characteristically perfect; and the guitar was supreme with an excellent solo. The lyrics were, well… but that’s normal for the Roses, as was the case for their “perfect” album.
So what was bugging me?
I finally noticed the Fluffy Cat’s pleas for attention and decided to give her a treat, as she was being particularly affectionate that day.
Aside #2 – Cat treats
Fluffy Cat Sophie was a rescue cat, believed (but not proven) feral with a litter of four. She was caught, separated from her kittens and put under foster care with the Toronto Cat Rescue program. My wife and I later took her home. At about the time of the release of All for One, Sophie started to make her mark. She began to demand attention from her co-feline Xander, and from my wife and me. She curtailed her habit of hiding under a chair, decided to chirp and make her opinion noticed, and seemed happy to pursue any and all attention.
Okay, let me resume. So, Fluffy Cat was prancing and meowing enough to solicit a treat from me. “Here you go, Sophie. And while I have your attention, can I ask your opinion on something?” When I’m home alone with the Fluffy Cat, I speak to her like a person… in this case like another music aficionado. (Please note I’ve edited out such comments as “aren’t you cute” and “don’t scratch that” from the transcripts, in the spirit of editing.)
“What do you think of the new Stone Roses?” I asked.
“Merowr. Mew,” she replied.
“Exactly. I think it reminds me of something. Well, I have a suspicion. Do you mind if I throw on an album while I prepare dinner, and see if any song here resembles All for One? I haven’t played the record for a while, so it will make good background music anyway. Let’s spin the Monkees.”
“Great,” I nodded. “I have only one album by the Monkees. It’s called Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd. Ya. No idea where that title came from.”
Aside #3 – 60s primates
The Monkees were a weird band. We all know them as being created for a TV show to tap into the Beatles’ popularity, essentially pretending to play pre-recorded songs (although a couple members offered limited support in the studio). However, this quartet began to pursue more influence as the TV show progressed (and ended), and exercised a measure of creative control of their song choices from their handlers. Eventually, they started producing and writing their own songs. In fact, Michael Stipe commented that he’d refuse R.E.M.’s entry into the Rock and Roll & Roll Hall of Fame if the Monkees weren’t inducted first (but didn’t follow up on that declaration). Anyway, for Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd., Michael Nesmith of the Monkees sang a song called Love is Only Sleeping.
Fluffy Cat and I let the album play until the fourth song, Love is Only Sleeping, came on. I stopped chopping onions for a moment, then tilted my head to listen.
I was right. I thought.
“Sophie. I think the main riff of All for One is very similar to the main riff of Love is Only Sleeping.
I needed a second opinion. “Okay, Sophie – here’s an edit, side by side. Stone Roses and Monkees. Just the main riffs. Listen closely.”
All for One by the Stone Roses (selection)
Love is Only Sleeping by the Monkees (selection)
“Well Sophie? What do you think? Yes I know the lyrics, vocals, harmonies, choruses and mood of the songs are totally different – but ain’t the riffs kinda similar?
Okay, I thought. The Fluffy Cat was right. Not a big deal. Time to get on with dinner. Maybe I’ll put on the Beatles next.