The Great British Songbook #7: ‘Fool’s Gold’

The Stone Roses, 1988

Songwriters are not the only musicians to see their work appreciated and appropriated by other musicians. What about the groovemakers? The funketeers? When compiling a list of the greatest British contributions to the art of popular song, we have to make some space for the people whose names don’t always get to appear in the publishing credits for the songs they were largely responsible for making magical.

Take the Stone Roses. In “Fool’s Gold” they created a liquid funk, icy-cold one minute and bubbling hot the next. A groove of imperious cool, and the kind of delightful musical nugget that, in its own field, is as valid and praise-worthy as “She Loves You” or “Stairway To Heaven” are in theirs.

As proof, I offer this song. “What’s It All About,” by Run DMC: a song which is heavily indebted to Public Enemy in production style, but which features at its heart a very clear sample of “Fool’s Gold.” And it came out a year after the Roses original, which does indicate how quickly that groove was assimilated by people who know about such things.

And of course, it’s a groove that just keeps coming back, as the UK rapper Wretch 32 proved last year with his own Roses recreation – “Unorthodox.”

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2. He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage. Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
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