Released on 8th October 1990 on Avalantic Records on LP / MC / CD formats.
At the end of the decade the UK alternative music scene was going through dramatic change. There was a history of underground music genres bubbling under the main single & album chart, with the bigger acts of those genres occasionally breaking through into the charts alongside the mainstream established acts. Remember this was back in the 1980′s when single sales were still significant enough to represent a challenge for any underground / Indie act to break the Top 40.
The “alternative” or “Goth” genre had enjoyed a pretty unrivaled run as the largest of these genres for the majority of the 1980′s, with bands like The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, All About Eve, The Cult all breaking into the Top 40 charts. However towards the end of the decade, “Goth” was suddenly replaced as the top dog by a number of emerging genres.
The “second summer of love” saw Acid House & Dance break out from the underground of illegal raves and clubs into the mainstream charts. “Shoegazing” bands dominated the Indie Charts, and Madchester exploded in the late 80′s / early 90′s.
Suddenly bands like The Mission who were previously untouchable, suddenly found themselves torn apart by personnel changes, and in the desire to innovate their sound, released disastrous albums like “Masque” where they attempted to associate themselves with the new younger credible bands on the scene like Utah Saints. Unfortunately they only succeeded in alienating their existing fan base, and failing to attract any new fans in the process.
The Rose too faced this new market dynamic, their response being “String ‘A’ Beads”. Indie rock was quickly picking up the dance influences, and bands like Jesus Jones and EMF suddenly were becoming huge mainstream acts. The Rose had experimented in the studio with tracks like “I Believe Dub Track 1990″, and “Stringa” saw the delivery of 10 new tracks, drawing from this new sound and marking a significant shift from the previous album, “Never Another Sunset”.
The musical dynamic of the band had changed significantly. With Paul as the single guitarist, compositions were much simpler and cleaner. The bass became to the forefront in songs to compensate for the loss of the second guitar. Most notably the fresh approach to the drumming sound from Andy Porter sought to add the dance / electronic element to the sound, via the heavy use of electronic and sequenced drums.
The album opens with “Your Lights On”, which is a strong, fast paced catchy song, doing a good job of teasing up the rest of the album. The opening verse always slightly irritated me lyrically as Phil chooses to use a couple of phrases that are indelibly linked with The Doors & The Stones:
“Come on baby light my fire take me right away / I need your satisfaction girl, I need it here today”
Next up we have “All We Want” which is another solid, simple, straight ahead tune.
“Make It Right” slows things down, and has a catchy piano hook but Phil’s vocal is very deep on the verses.
“If You Only Knew” builds nicely. This then seamlessly runs into the short, acoustic “A Certain Truth”.
The title track “String ‘A’ Beads” is dominated by the dance style drum beat, and rhythmic guitar playing, but is a highlight of the album. “String ‘A’ Beads” is Yorkshire rhyming slang for Leeds, the bands home town. The song opens with a great lyric:
“We are what you want now, we are what you need / Fly me out to LA man, no take me back to Leeds / Home is where is the heart is I heard somebody say / Well my heart is in the gutter, that’s surely Leeds today”
“If It’s Right For You” is another straight ahead song, not one of the stronger on the album, and Phil struggles to adapt to the tune.
“A Second Sight” was only available as a bonus track on the CD. It’s ok, but doesn’t stand out.
Even though the complexity of their earlier work had been stripped away, “A Different Child” carries on the bands history of delivering touching ballads. A beautiful song with a compassionate lyric it works really well. Phil often joked his knew how to reach out to the girls with his lyrics, this one shows why!
“Be True To Your Love” closes things out with a quality up tempo dancey, with a real catchy guitar line. It feels fresh and is Phil’s best performance on the album.
There is a remix of “Lights On” on the CD which is basically an entirely new song, reworked and remixed by Jon Dasilva who was an up and coming DJ / Producer, DJ’ing at Manchester’s Haçienda, which the band felt was a bit of a coup at the time.
Although ignored in the UK, and with no UK tours to promote the record, the album quickly outsold “Never Another Sunset”, with it being especially well received in mainland Europe.
Your Lights On (The Rose of Avalanche) (3:58)
All We Want (The Rose of Avalanche) (4:04)
Make It Right (The Rose of Avalanche) (4:54)
If You Only Knew / A Certain Truth (The Rose of Avalanche) (7:17)
String ‘A’ Beads (The Rose of Avalanche) (3:51)
If It’s Right For You (The Rose of Avalanche) (3:47)
Second Sight* (The Rose of Avalanche) (5:04)
A Different Child (The Rose of Avalanche) (5:22)
Be True To Your Love (The Rose of Avalanche) (6:30)
Lights On* (Dasilva’s Dark Dub Digig Mix) (6:45)
Catalogue Number: AVE CD002
* Bonus tracks on CD only