Ian Brown – Golden Greats – Review

Ian Brown

Golden Greats (Interscope)
by Tim Den

I’m going to try my hardest not to say what every other review has already said about Ian Brown. Yes, he was the singer of The Stone Roses. Yes, his former band revolutionized the British music scene in the late ’80s/early ’90s. Yes, The Stone Roses were the last of the great swagger, British “acid house” bands that mattered (and fathers of such late-comers as Oasis, The Charlatans UK, etc.). And no, Ian Brown takes no shit from a flight stewardess: He went to prison to prove it. The man is unique; a visionary who stands by his contradicting philosophies that in turn make him such an idealist and a confident individual. Part angry punk, part love preacher, part cultural icon… where can he go next? Well, after the semi-flop of his first solo record, Unfinished Monkey Business (as well as the turbulent last few years of the ’90s, when he made a mess of The Stone Roses’ demise and his own personal life), it seemed getting a little respect would be a step in the right direction. With Golden Greats, Brown succeeds. There is barely a hint of his past band on this electronica-fueled, daring new album.

Starting with the ancient Chinese intro of “Gettin’ High” that morphs into a stomping Zeppelin monster riff (yes, you read right), Brown has given up his insecurities and taken in everything he thinks makes a good song: no matter what style it is. It’s this kind of courageous effort that results in the cybersexy number “Love Like a Fountain,” the hip-hop rhythms of “Set My Baby Free,” and the Dire Straits-ish “Dolphins Were Monkeys” (who else can get away with a title like that?). That and the good sense to throw in a beautiful acoustic number like “Free My Way,” has finally proven to the world that Ian Brown is not just the lead singer of a band tagged with “legendary” status, he’s “hip” to the new millennium, his creative fire still burns, and he is definitely not the least talented of the Roses (which many claim). Golden Greats could’ve been an album made by a fresh talent bringing a new hybrid of rock and electronica into the market, but it’s not. It was made by a man who, a decade ago, set the standard for British cool.