Ian Brown - My Way (Polydor)

12 Nov 2009

“as weezer’s latest abomination bears grim testimony to, there’s little more painful than witnessing the burned-out creators of the legendary first records of yesteryear reduced to peddling grotesquely contrived parodies of  what made them great...”; release – ‘09

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It’s a perilous career move, releasing a beloved, epochal debut album. As Weezer’s latest abomination bears grim testimony to, there’s little more painful than witnessing the burned-out creators of the legendary first records of yesteryear reduced to peddling grotesquely contrived parodies of  what made them great, glories of yore slipping ever further into a bygone era.

Not that Ian Brown, former frontman of The Stone Roses, has spent much of the interim period since his old charges released their superlative eponymous LP in 1989 attempting to recreate the past.  Whereas the Roses were master alchemists, pouring Hendrixian  virtuosity, a melodic 60s-centric sensibility, punk energy, an irresistible rhythmic flair and that quintessentially Mancunian self-belief into their melting pot to produce pure pop gold, Brown’s solo career hasn’t deviated much from the template he established eleven years ago on Unfinished Monkey Business.

Like its five full-length predecessors, My Way is dominated by moody, downtempo electronica, shuffling beats, flecks of world music and the occasional scathing lyrical assault, be it on The Man, the music biz or former Roses guitarist John Squire.  Much of the record treads old ground; ‘For The Glory’ disavows his legacy via references to the Roses classic ‘She Bangs The Drums’ and a cover of Zager and Evans '  1969 hit musing on the apocalypse  ‘In The Year 2025’, which pairs the kind of  weed-fug pontificating (“In the year 9595/I’m kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive...”)   that Brown has made his own  with Spaghetti Western horns.

But the lush, hazy nostalgia of ‘Always Remember Me’ appears to suggest a certain ambivalence towards his past, tugging at the heartstrings in a manner not dissimilar to ‘Hysteric’ from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ latest. Brown surely can’t afford to totally renounce what’s gone before – the fact he liberally peppers his sets to this day with Roses favourites would suggest he knows on what side his bread is buttered. Indeed, if My Way hadn’t been made by someone responsible for ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ and ‘I Am The Resurrection’, would anyone still be listening?

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