Ian Brown – Northern Star

Written by Scott Causer
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Twenty years on from the Stone Roses debut, who would have thought at the time that Ian Brown would be nurturing a hugely successful solo career, let alone on his sixth studio album.  Having followed Ian Brown’s musical career for many years from being a teenager making the pilgrimage to Blackpool to the heady days of Spike Island to where it all went horribly wrong at Reading. 

I’ve seen him do great solo shows (Manchester Apollo), not so great shows (Manchester Roadhouse), I’ve seen him at his antagonistic best (supporting the Manic Street Preachers at Wembley Arena) and play an entire set of Roses songs when it was least expected (Claremont Gardens).  However all the time he’s been there inventing, re-inventing – giving his opinion where its least wanted, always keeping it fresh and exciting.  The thing is with Ian Brown, you never know what you’re gonna get or what to expect, but you know its gonna happen...


Following Ian Brown is a bit like following your local football team. There are highs, lows, and there has of course been occasional blows, however with new album My Way he’s made a Premiership winner.  The new single Stellify is Ian Brown at his very best, up there with his Unkle collaborations, as is my album favourite Just One Look.  On paper a cover version of In The Year 2525 sounds at best downright bizarre. In truth its totally inspired. Revisiting the mariachi trumpets that gave us Time Is My Everything, Ian stamps his authority all over the song, making it his own in the process.  This is not the only thing that is inspired - the choice of album title My Way – after all what other way could we expect off a man who has made a whole career of doing things his own way?

My Way is his most diverse album to date combining Latin sounds with hip hop beats, influences going from the 80s right through to present day - all the while sounding fresh and contemporary.  No mean feat for a man who’s been doing this for the best part of 25 years. The repeated affirmations that he’s not interested in reforming the Roses could also be in danger of sounding of bravado if his current album just wasn’t so fucking good.  His previous albums have provided fleeting moments of genius but this is by far his strongest solo effort since Music from the Spheres.

In I Wanna Be Adored, Ian set out the Roses’ initial statement of intent and sang that he didn’t have to sell his soul.  True to his word he never ever has.  Some see this as an inherent awkwardness, an antagonistic stance, a complete refusal to conform.  I see this as a man of integrity and dignity self assured in his own beliefs.  It would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to reform the Roses and take the money and run. However even though they are one of the very few bands who more than deserve their payday, Ian has consistently refused to tow the line, always looking forwards, unable to bring himself to tarnish the memory of the Roses.  As much as I and many others would love to see them play just one more time, its refreshing to find a pop star in this day and age who cannot and will not be bought.  He is quite simply NOT FOR SALE!!!

 From the release of the Stone Roses, Ian Brown has been an inspiration to many. More switched on than anyone in his mid-40s has any right to be, even Robbie Williams is taking notes from the Man - just take a listen to his new single and tell me I’m wrong!!!  The fact that he still strives to be at the top of his game has to tell you something about the man.  Love him or loathe him, this non-conformist, anti-royalist is whether he likes it or not, a national treasure, although how he would respond to an offer of knighthood is pretty much a dead cert, if his intentions on his first album still remain true.

© Words Scott Causer/ZANI Media

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Read 2639 times Last modified on Monday, 27 April 2015 19:36
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