This article continues the series from Part 1 and Part 2.


3. Waterfall/Don't Stop

Balls, balls, balls.  You've got to admit, the Stone Roses had balls!

Your debut album—a situation that can make or break you.  What do you do?  Play it safe?  Of course not!  You leave yourself open to a beating from both your fans and the press by doing something unthinkable and unexpected.

Like, for example, taking the backing track for the third song on your album, reversing it, and plonking down the five-minute result as your fourth track!

Art?  Garbage?  Probably both, in the grand tradition of Revolution 9 and Metal Machine Music.  But, due to the level of risk involved, Don't Stop seems more meritorious and meaningful than those two precedents.  Granted, the Roses already had a solid name and reputation before the release of their first album, but nevertheless it took courage to stand by an uncommercial artistic experiment without the cushion of an established career.

Either way, the combo was very carefully thought out, given that Don't Stop had some extremely clever additions beyond simply using Waterfall in reverse.  Forward drums were added, as well as nonsensical new lyrics which, when played backwards, phonetically sound like Waterfall's lyrics.  In effect, the two songs are as close to being mirror images as possible, with the reversed version sounding as normal as is feasible given the constraints.

Tongue-in-cheek or not, Ian Brown has said that, of all the songs the Roses did, Don't Stop is one of his favourites, and one of the few things he was satisfied with on their debut album.  And the Chemical Brothers have named Don't Stop as one of their top ten songs of all time.

Unfortunately, the impact of Waterfall/Don't Stop as an artistic statement was somewhat diminished by repeating the same trick with Guernica (Made of Stone in reverse, but with forward lyrics) and Simone (Where Angels Play reversed).  Less is more—except, perhaps, when a full five years elapse between your first and second albums!

Posted on Saturday, February 23, 2008
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