This is the One! In September Ian Brown returns to the fray with his best solo album yet. Its his first release since 2004’s ‘Solarized’ and 2005’s ‘The Greatest’ compilation which brought phase one of the Ian Brown’s highly successful maverick solo career to an end. Whilst the first four albums were smart and original with an eclectic flavour, ‘The World Is Yours’ is a very different work. A lush, orchestral workout that recalls Marvin Gaye’s classic ‘What’s Going On’ and Ennio Morricone’s classic spaghetti western soundtracks it comes armed with politicised lyrics and some special guests.
The album oozes a certain maturity and wisdom with Brown at his lyrical best. He’s always had an edge to what he sings about, always been searching, sometimes spiritual, mystical and always been political- that’s the inner punk speaking out. Brown comes from a maverick generation who fought back. You don’t love the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley for nothing, There is a righteousness and a focus about the album that comes from nine months of laying off the weed, Brown himself claims he was determined to get straight and worked his hardest on the record, getting it right, honing down his message. In these crazy times we need clear minds, we need people to speak out. ‘The World Is Yours’ is velvet music packing an iron fist. It punches harder than Ian Brown’s boyhood idols Mohammed Ali and Bruce Lee but this righteousness is bedded in with the lush orchestration that is swooping and powerful- sitting on top of clear-cut grooves.
This is Ian Brown’s breakout record, the one that will define his whole career and finally dispel the myths of his glorious past. Ian Brown comes with a history and its one that has cemented his iconic status for a whole generation. The music has always been great and now it moves up a level. Can it really be 20 years ago since the Stone Roses were Manchester’s best-kept secret.Those underground gigs, those packed Mancunian nights as the Roses created the legend that was about to take the nation. It was a beautiful moment, the eighties had been crap and suddenly here was a band that was going to take the world, their songs were anthems and the frontman was the coolest fucker in town.
Oasis may have stolen the Roses thunder in sales terms but they would always pay respect to the real simian king. Liam acknowledges the Brownman's swagger and the city is still seething with mini versions of the real Manchester icon. Manchester is a city of mavericks and hooligan poets, individuals making their own mad mash up music, Ian Brown is the king monkey of this clan. He got the charisma and he got the talent to pull these unlikely combinations off. The Roses had the world in the palm of their hand, their debut album is still in all those top fives that matter, America was calling, they culd have been the biggest band in the world.
But they let it go, the bond was broken and cynics thought that this was the last we had heard of the errant frontman. However, Ian bounced back with a solo career that confounded the doubters. He kept his edge and his king monkey cool- not even a spell inside Strangeways affected that swagger. Brown gets respect because he cuts great tunes, never sold out and brokes no bullshit whether its in the recording studio or on live TV. He seems to know no fear. Whilst every British band went off and copied the Roses he set of in the opposite direction and invented his own multi cultural polyglot mix of music that has a cutting edge cool to it.
Instead of coasting it with a sub Roses guitar workout Ian went out on his own path. Not so much white indie music this was a multiracial, multi styled modern music. There were distinct flavours of everything in there, from post techno meltdown to hip hop to touches of the Roses melodic guitar with an edge to, well, Ian Brown music. ‘Unfinished Monkey Business ‘ was a gem; funny, dark and charismatic it set Ian up as a solo star with an agenda of his own, answering to no one. The next three albums continued this theme, experimental, ground breaking but always pop armed with a rough edge so often lacking in modern British music- Brown did what the fuck he felt like, born a punk, die a punk- this was the sprit of adventure that punk had promised. The albums showed a restless spirit listening to all the music out there and making his own version of it.
Second album ‘Golden Greats’ was smoother, ‘Music Of The Spheres’ more atmospheric and ‘Solarized’ was the best yet with its super funky urban guerrilla tunes and even touches of mariachi in its make up. Now more than a decade since the Roses bailed out Brown is back with his best solo album.
He’s honed this to perfection now, ‘The World Is Yours’, is the sound of someone at the top of their game. Like a boxer at the pinnacle of his career limbering up at the ringside Brown’s nonchalant swagger and diamond hard attitude are all over the album. Lyrically tough and mature there is a wisdom dripping out of the songs and some great guests calling in to give the album a flavour. Sinéad O’Connor sounds as beautiful and militantly fragile as ever on ‘Illegal Attacks’ which deals with the Iraq. Whilst a couple of ex Pistols lurk around on ‘Sister Rose’. Getting Cook and Jones to play on the album is a dream for Ian Brown. Growing up in the Manchester suburbs his life was changed by the power and attitude of the Sex Pistols, a band whose rebel mantle the Roses readily took on in their brief tenure as the UK’s hottest band. The Pistols pair don’t disappoint, they sound as thuggish and fantastic as they did 30 years ago. When Ian Brown gets guests on his records they give him their best shot. Lets not forget Paul Ryder, the erstwhile brother of Happy Monday Sean, whose loping bass line gives the same two tracks a dirty northern funk. Ian always said that Paul was the greatest bass player in town and Mani would always agree.
When you got one great Manc bass player on your album, why not get another? ex Smiths Andy Rourke plays on ‘Goodbye To The Broken’ and ‘On Track’ in a neat nod to the classic Manchester band lineage. ‘The World Is Yours’ is lush and respectful to the louche sexuality of the groove. Its got attitude with Brown’s husky vocals that combine a very northern in your face attitude with the wisdom of the soul singer, course and affecting they are also Brown’s best vocals yet. A masterpiece, the album is Ian Brown burying all his ghosts and setting the world to rights, making a stand and recording a masterful album. When Geno Washington met the young Brown in 1984 and told the skinny kid that he was a star he could never dream that nearly a quarter of a century later he would cut an album that oozed pure soul class.