Solarized – Ian Brown
In just seven years Ian Brown has managed to double the output he managed to release under the Stone Roses banner in ten. Granted none of his solo offerings have been as easily accessible and ‘poppy’ as his former band but he has nevertheless produced four musically unique and diverse long-players as well as a remix album. Newcomers might not recognise his dry wit and cheeky humour. Indeed some might say he hasn’t got one, but I’d hastily point them to the two Michael Jackson covers (b-sides to Dolphins were monkeys and Golden Gaze) “Thriller” and “Beat It”. He’s a funny guy who isn’t too precious about his own perceived godlike status (contrary to popular belief). Remember, the simian one named his debut solo outing “Unfinished Monkey-business”!
So here’s album number four. More menacing than the last, Solarized embraces plenty of Eastern and mariachi influence. More than one track has a Mexican tinge and it’s a suit that Brown wears well. “One way ticket to paradise” has an addictive Turkish rhythm spiralling round with jaggedy distorted guitar courtesy of live band stalwart Aziz Abringham plus you get some fabulous virtuoso percussion from the extremely talented Inder Goldfinger. Not one blessed with a great vocal range, Brown stays in the comfort of the mid-tones whilst sonic atmospheres blast around him. First single and collaboration with Oasis’ Noel Gallagher “Keep what ya got” is a rocker that’ll be in the live set for some time, possibly a set closer – it’s massive and anthemic as any great Ian Brown track should be. Some tracks are more overtly political than we’ve heard before – “Kiss ya lips (no I.D)” is possibly the first song about the proposed national ID card. Brown opposes the introduction of this policy over a driving, funky backdrop somewhat reminiscent of the Roses’ “Begging you”. Solarized is definitely the most consistent of Ian Brown’s releases and will make for some interesting live interpretations. A deserving five stars.