Monday, October 05, 2009

Ian Brown - My Way

well, as i am for the moment blessed with an internet connection (see previous post) i guess i had better use it to do something of both substance and importance, which i think you will agree means giving my musings on the latest Ian Brown album.

i say musings rather than "review" for a couple of reasons. firstly, as we're now a week after the album was released, it's unlikely that this particular post is going to persuade anyone to pay any interest in it that hasn't already. secondly, if we're honest (and we are in the business of honesty here), it's not at all likely that i am going to give a negative review of the original King Monkey. thirdly, which this well written review in The Guardian expertly sums up, you either "get" Ian Brown or you don't. who is and who isn't, as it were.

for those of us who very much do "get" Ian Brown, this is an exceptional album. it's not his greatest album (Music Of The Spheres takes that title) and nor does it feature his greatest song (that would be F.E.A.R. if you asked most fans, Keep What Ya Got would be my choice). whilst not featuring anything that could be called the greatest he has ever done, it all the same features his most cohesive set of tracks yet, which is to say this is a "proper album" rather than just a bunch of songs slammed together.

beyond the ace lead single, Stellify (which has caused some bizarre comparisons to the theme from Grange Hill), there's much to get excited about here. best for me so far is an interesting three track segue, linking Just Like You, a cover of In The Year 2525 which is as inspired as it is strange that he pulled this song, and Always Remember Me, possibly the best track on the album.

if the cover of In The Year 2525 is strange, it is at least not the strangest thing on the album. that honour goes, by a country mile, to a tune called Own Brain, featuring the lyric "i've got my own brain, it's an anagram of my own name". not since Hendrix sang "oh, move over, rover, and let jimi take over" on Fire has a musician sound so out there when name-checking themselves. well, as i said, you either get King Monkey or you do not......

...and for those that think they get him but clearly do not, two tracks have turned heads. they would be For The Glory and So High, the last track on the album. both have inescapable references to Ian Brown's inescapable past as the frontman of The Stone Roses. yeah, he's released three times as many albums as a solo artist, but he will never, ever escape the mighty shadow he cast as the face of that band. in regards of the former, well, yes. there's no way that For The Glory is about anything other that The Stone Roses. and it reeks of nothing but pride in what they did and his unreserved love of being in the band with his mates.

as far as So High goes, any review you read that says it's about John Squire is just plain lazy. for a start, Ian pretty much nailed his feelings on his former songwriting partner firmly to the mast on his debut album, Unfinished Monkey Business - there's not much more he could say that wasn't in What Happened To Ya and in particular Deep Pile Dreams. secondly, the lyrics refer to "mercenaries". yeah, plural = more than one. Ian Brown once called the music scene "the filthiest business in the world", so i think it's safe to say this is a go at all he's encountered who have wasted away talents as he's kept going.

there is, alas, a big gaping hole on this album. whereas there's no real chance of a Stone Roses reunion (and i am not sure who really wants one, leave memories as they are) as such, Ian Brown announced to an astonished world that he was offered a song composed by John Squire for the album. whereas Ian liked the track, he decided against recording it on the advice of his children. had he recorded it, well, reunion talk would have gone into overdrive. as it stands, one old lifelong friend has offered a track written with his old mate in mind, and the other rather liked it, but not quite enough to forgive, forget and move on. on the one hand you'd wish that two old friends could just get along again, never mind the limitless possibilities they could achieve. on the other, however, Ian Brown was left to do things by himself all those years ago, and as this album shows, he's very much doing it his way and his way alone.

so, as i said, if you have an interest in Ian, you've probably picked up this album anyway. for what my view is worth, yeah, this is indeed a very (very) close second to the Manics' Journal For Plague Lovers as the best album you will hear all year.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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