Songs that Live On: ‘Fools Gold’ by The Stone Roses
British rapper Aitch samples the Madchester classic for his latest ‘1989’
In 1989, British rock band The Stone Roses released the double A-side singles “Fools Gold” and “What The World Is Waiting For.” “Fools Gold” ended up becoming the bigger hit, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K., peaking at #8. The song helped define a budding music scene that would later be dubbed as Madchester, given the prominence of countless artists from the English city of Manchester in the late Eighties. The music was indie-dance merging the pop/rock sensibilities of the 1960s with acid house and psychedelia. The Stone Roses fit perfectly into this category that would also include bands like James, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays and more.
What made “Fools Good” stand out from the pack was its drum beat, a funky rhythm written over “Funky Drummer” by James Brown. The band had been heavily influenced by the ‘Godfather of Soul’ and it shouldn’t then come as a surprise that their breakthrough single had major crossover appeal, not just catching the attention of the indie scene but also Top 40 and the hip-hop community.
The hip-hop community, in fact, quickly embraced The Stone Roses’ single, with legendary rap group Run DMC sampling “Fools Gold” just a year later in 1990 with their own single, “What’s It All About.” Since then, it seems the single has made its way into countless hits alongside the band themselves releasing and re-releasing countless mixes of the song.
In 2011, Wretch 32 released “Unorthodox” featuring Example as the first single from his second album, Black and White. His single made it all the way to the Top 2 on the UK charts. The track was the first of several blockbuster hits for the British rapper during that era and remains one of his most successful singles to date.
Now, more than a decade later, we have The Stone Roses getting songwriting credit again for their funky guitar work and more, with “Fools Gold” being heavily sampled by British rapper and Manchester’s own Aitch on his latest single – ironically titled “1989.”
The single happens to feature another Madchester era legend, Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays, who agreed to feature on the new track for “four cans of Guinness,” according to the rapper himself.
The track is likely to explode on the British charts in the weeks to come and once again, “Fools Gold” will continue its seemingly never-ending chart run, now into its fourth decade.
It’s a noteworthy feat in music history that a song rooted in funk and soul would go on to become an indie-dance classic and then get sampled and featured back again in future soul hits.
It seems that no matter how much time goes by, every few years, we seem to go back and remember a time when Manchester got really funky and we went mad for it!