Saturday, 13 October 2012

Music: Keep or Cull No.18: Ian Brown - Unfinished Monkey Business (1998)

I first got into the Stone Roses when I was 15. A mate of mine bought the Complete Stone Roses from the second-hand section of the now long-defunct Mike Lloyd’s Records in Wolverhampton. Every weekend, my mates and I would go around each others’ houses, instruments in tow, and jam, often covering some of the easier-to-play Stone Roses songs like ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and ‘Made of Stone’ . We wrote our own songs which were sub-Manic Street Preachers teenage-angst fused with a guitar style that tried to emulate Bernard Butler and John Squire – we weren’t very good, but we always had fun. Every few weeks we’d go around a mate’s house who was more into video games and anime than music. He was fast-tracked through puberty at the age of 12, and was the only 15 year-old I knew with thick mutton-chops and real moustache. He was also the only 15 year old I knew who could get served alcohol – and so that’s what he did. His parents had split up, and he’d moved in with his dad who lived a free and easy bachelor lifestyle. His dad has some great music in his collection (New Order, Stone Roses, Primal Scream, etc.) and we’d always ended up listening to the Stone Roses and drinking really bad whiskey.

It was about this time when it was announced in Select magazine that Ian Brown was set to release a solo album and I remember feeling a triumphant rush of excitement. The first single from the album, ‘My Star’, was great. I was glad that Brown had departed from the Stone Roses’ trademark sound and produced an ambitious and catchy track that seemed perfect at the time. I remember how pleased I was that the single utilised the magic of CD-ROM technology and included the music video on the disc to play on my PC. The sound was crap and the picture was grainy and jerky, but at the time this was the coolest thing ever. This was the first single I’d owned where the music video was on the disc, and I loved the fact that I could watch it any time I wanted without having to wait for it to fortuitously come on MTV, or call one of those other music channels where you could choose what was played so long as you were willing to phone a premium-rate number – I wasn’t.

When the album was released, I made real effort to like it. On first listen I thought it was terrible, but as I listened to it more and skipped past some of the dodgier tracks, I realised that it was quite a good album. It was nowhere near as good as the Stone Roses, but it was still pretty decent. ...

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