Ranking every Album from King Monkey!
After a 10 year gap Ian Brown last year would release his seventh studio album “Ripples” his first solo work since “My Way” in 2009. In the decade in-between Brown had been busy with his band “The Stone Roses” (you may have heard of them) and the many gigs they played to an audience hungry for their resurrection.
I managed to catch one of those gigs at Etihad Stadium, Manchester in June 2016 having first seen them at Manchester Apollo in December 1995. In fact I’ve also been fortunate enough to catch Ian live in June 2010 at an early incarnation of “Parklife Festival” at Platt Fields Park in Fallowfield, Manchester, a mere stones throw from my old family home.
As fun as that was it was always Ian’s solo studio albums that fascinated me. More eclectic in its direction it was always fascinating to see what he would come up with next. So with that in mind I thought it would be fun to give a personal opinion on how each of his seven solo albums compare so here goes.
7) Ripples (2019)
His most recent release and more guitar driven. It’s an enjoyable listen but I think suffers repetition lyrically and the production seems rushed.
It’s still an enjoyable listen though and has many highlights.
“First World Problems” is a catchy opener and “Black Roses” is a stomping cover version. “From Chaos To Harmony” feels like you are going on a journey and title track “Ripples” has a “Fools Gold” vibe to it.
6) Music Of The Spheres (2001)
Any album with the mighty F.E.A.R. on deserves higher I hear you say.
This says more about Brown’s stellar output as a solo artist rather than a detriment on the album. “Shadows Of A Saint” is utterly charming and second single “Whispers” shows Brown making simplistic sound epic.
5) Solarized (2004)
For me this is the album that represents the trademark Brown sound. “Keep What Ya Got” is a mighty collaboration with Noel Gallagher with a familiar swagger advising you to “remember where you came from”
“Longsight M13” (an area of Manchester for those who don’t know) see’s Brown singing about seeing places “even right don’t get to see” Brown gets political on “Kiss Ya Lips (No I.D.)‘ and “Upside Down”
The political side of his songwriting would also appear in future solo work.
4) The World Is Yours (2007)
Probably the most political album in the Brown back catalogue. “Illegal Attacks” with Sinead O’Connor questions the Iraq war and “Save Us” takes a look at attitudes of the western world.
“Feeding Of The 5000” also see’s Ian’s continuing fascination with religion. The production on this album is lush and rich as displayed on the title track.
3) Unfinished Monkey Business (1998)
The start of the Brown solo journey. The magnificent radio friendly “My Star” still sounds fresh 22 years later.
“Ice Cold Cube” which was played at the disastrous Stone Roses gig at Reading Festival 1996 sounds epic and hypnotic. You just don’t want that riff to end. “Can’t See Me” has a Roses vibe.”Lions” with the late magnificent Denise Johnson on vocals is joyous and “Corpses In Their Mouths” encapsulates menace.
2) Golden Greats (1999)
At this point in his solo career Brown was at a commercial peak “Set My Baby Free” and “Dolphins Were Monkeys” will be stuck in your head after one listen. “Love Like A Fountain” could easily be a dance track and Golden Gaze” is moody and magnificent.
I recommend you give the promotional video for “Golden Gaze” a viewing for guaranteed craziness.
1) My Way (2009)
As with all music picking your favourites is subjective and this album may not make the top spot for a few but for me it’s just magnificent. Lead single “Stellify” see’s Brown in the promotional video giving you a tour of Manchester. Originally written for Rihanna he decided to keep it for himself as it was a personal melodic love song.
“Crowning Of The Poor” is as socially aware as the title track on previous album.”The World Is Yours” and on “Just Like You” he sings about “living for today“. My personal favourite is “Always Remember Me“. Moving in its beauty and in a trend for this album perfect in the production.
Like Albums Ranked? Check out these lists…
Born in Manchester, live now around Heaton Moor. A football, boxing and snooker fan and support Manchester City(even before the glory days)
A big fan of gigs, music and all that come with it. I used to write for a boxing website and have previously worked for Music Zone, a job that involved listening to new releases, speaking to labels and keeping the schedule updated.