Made of Stone vs. Spike Island: Which one is best?
It’s been a bumper couple of weeks for Stone Roses fans, with the release of Spike Island on October 14th followed last week by the much-anticipated DVD & Blu-ray release of Shane Meadows’ documentary Made of Stone.
So which one should you buy?
They said it couldn’t happen…
Let’s begin with Made of Stone. Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes) was commissioned last year to document the reformation of one Manchester’s most legendary bands – something many fans thought would never happen. By the time Mani & Ian Brown finally dissolved the band in 1996, Reni & John Squire had already departed, and their subsequent performance at Reading Festival that year – without the original guitarist and drummer - has since become the stuff of legend, for all the wrong reasons. Hardly a fitting end to a band that had so much potential and were, for a short while, the voice of a generation.
Meadows himself describes the Stone Roses as his “favourite band of all time” and it shows – Made of Stone is very much a ‘by the fans, for the fans’ kind of documentary. It’s a film as much about Meadows’ love for the band – and indeed a whole generation’s love for them – as it is about the band itself. Right from the opening sequence, with its slow-motion shot of Ian Brown walking along the front of the crowd overlaid with a quote from Alfred Hitchcock, the hairs on the back of your neck begin to stand up and you realise just how much TLC has gone into the making of this documentary.
There is one notable omission in the lack of any new interviews with the band – the members were adamant this wasn’t something they wanted to do, but you get the feeling this wouldn’t have altered Meadows’ approach. What he does instead is document the story of the Stone Roses from their beginnings, through their acrimonious relationship with their first record label, Silvertone (culminating in the infamous destruction of their studios by the band with gallons of red paint), right through to their break-up and eventual…ahem…resurrection. There is plenty of archive footage, some of which had never been seen before the cinematic release, and the film perfectly captures the atmosphere, attitude and cultural significance of the band and what they represented.
Spike Island is a very different affair – a sort of coming-of-age story for the ‘Madchester’ generation. Mat Whitecross (The Shock Doctrine, Sex & Drugs & Rock n’ Roll) is in the director’s chair for this tale of a group of friends who will do anything to ensure they get to attend the Stone Roses’ legendary Spike Island concert in May 1990.
Starring Elliott Tittensor (Shameless), the film sees his character ‘Tits’ and his mates getting up to all sorts of shenanigans, including stealing a van, hiding in the luggage compartment of a coach and even recreating the Roses’ paint-daubing incident in their school gym.
As you watch this film you can’t help but wonder who exactly it is aimed at. Given the subject matter, one would assume the target market for a film like this is 40-something men who actually remember the Spike Island gig, but the writing, acting and general feel of the movie seem squarely aimed at teenagers. Maybe the film is pitched towards those who are getting into the band for the first time, but if nothing else though, Roses fans are bound to enjoy the soundtrack.
In truth, die-hard Roses fans will probably want both, but if you only buy one, we’d have to recommend Made of Stone. Shane Meadows is one of the best filmmakers the UK has produced in a long time and the loving care with which this documentary has been put together proves irresistible. A truly great 'rockumantary' from a man who just keeps getting better