Album Reviews

Ian Brown – My Way

(Polydor) UK release date: 28 September 2009

Say what you like about artistic integrity. To stick to your guns in the face of being offered anamount of money so large it comes with free entry to the G20, for something that would beridiculously easy to do, is something to be appreciated.

So the more Ian Brown resists the filthy lucre of the Stone Roses reunion tour the more it comes to definehis solo career and the more caps are doffed to a man being firm to his beliefs and true to his values.Not to get too teary-eyed about it, but it almost restores your faith in humanity. Man.

Of course it also means that if he now agrees to a 120 date reunion tour of aircraft hangers upand down the country, the shoots of optimism sprouting in thousands of souls would immediately bedestroyed by the icy blast of cynicism that would sweep over their very being. They’d probablyhave to kill themselves. Or at least download the entire The Smiths back catalogue to listen to on anendless loop while writing some god-awful poetry.

Which would probably be of no concern to Messrs. Brown, Squire, Mani and Reni as they flew tothe moon in their solid platinum spaceships. But it could be construed as a bit of added pressure.Particularly as Brown’s last album – The World Is Yours – was probably his wobbliest to date. Aclumsy hodge-podge of half-hearted soapboxing, clumsy lyrics and a deficit of hooks.

But My Way bucks the trend. In fact, if the trend had happened to be riding on the back of this,it would now be buried in the dirt having been repeatedly gored, trampled and then laughed at bya bloodthirsty mob.

It’s clearly an Ian Brown record, but there’s an easy mastery of things previously introduced.The string-beds, the mariachi horns, the deep mystical groove, they’re all elements which haveappeared in isolation on separate outings, but here are brought together in spectacular fashion.

Stellify swaggers around confidently, built around an insistent synth-coda and marching beat. Butit’s not a confrontational confidence – this isn’t a song that struts around the pub looking fora fight and inappropriately leering at your girlfriend. It’s a song that would stride up, warmlywrap you in an embrace and point at the stars, whispering of the marvels of the universe.

It’s near genius. As is the way he takes a dreadful novelty record from the ’60s (In The Year2525) and turns it into something you can bear for more than 30 seconds. As is the way hemanages to make a song based around the concept of playing Boggle with his own name sound like aDetroit techno remix of a good idea. As for the near-ballad grandstanding of For The Glory, well that’s just a triumphant, euphoric masterpiece.

Ian Brown just keeps on getting better. As it stands, his way seems like the only way to go.

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More on Ian Brown
Ian Brown – Ripples
Ian Brown @ Brixton Academy, London
Ian Brown – My Way
Ian Brown – The World Is Yours
Ian Brown + Scratch Perverts @ Islington Academy, London