When the Roses fell apart the first time there was a feeling, from some people, that Ian Brown would struggle – certainly the music business had no interest in him and he was quietly dropped by his label. The Roses fan base didn’t agree and the singer’s iconic status would have meant he could have coasted through a solo career.
The cool thing is that he didn’t coast and set out on his own idiosyncratic root- his debut album, Unfinished Money Business, was the sound of someone learning from scratch about a new way of writing and recording and all the better for it.
Its lo-fi recording added to the mystique of the tracks and the collaborations provided some great pop moments. These collaborations provided the template for the run of albums that established Ian as a solo star outside the Roses as it documented his life from untouchable street icon to prison and back out again with that defiant walk.
He had the vision and the ideas and the collaborators had the tools and between them they carved out a very non Roses style of music that drew in from hip hop, trip hop, electronic music with a dash of indie and post punk experimentalism in a series of records that were fantastically dark and always full of unexpected twists and laced with a mystical edge.
1. My Star
The 1998 comeback single went top 5 and its smart cross between the neo Dear Prudence guitar riff from guitar guru Aziz Ibrahim gave it a post Roses edge and the new lo fi electronics made the song a great kick off to the post Roses era. It was like Johnny Rotten coming back with the Public Image single- it sounded the same as the old band but yet totally different. This was Ian Brown washing his hands of the Roses and at the same time reclaiming his past and setting his stall for the future with a tune that sounds great to this day.
A drop dead classic.
Ian Brown – the top 10 tracks from his solo career. Number 2 is here