Ian Brown Biography
So starting the day that Roses’ drummer Reni gave him a guitar, Ian locked himself away in his flat and spent all his time learning that instrument and a host of others. When he emerged, he presented his aptly titled first solo album, Unfinished Monkey Business.
In January of 1998, Ian's first and much anticipated debut solo single, “My Star,” reached No. 5 on the UK charts.
Boasting 12 "lo-fi" tunes, all produced and mixed by Ian himself, the set clearly showcased the size of the man's determination. Brown was fiercely proud of the musical statement and of the talent featured on the set including Aziz Ibrahim, Mani, Reni, Nigel Ippinson, Robbie Maddix and Denise Johnson.
Unfinished Monkey Business spawned two subsequent singles, “Corpses” and “Can't See Me,” both of which attained similar chart success and helped to drive the set Gold in the UK.
Throughout the remainder of 1998 and almost all of 1999, Ian toured the world in support of his debut, including five gigs in one day, stretching from Wales to Scotland (proceeds from the doors was donated to local youth clubs).
Brown’s relentless schedule and old-fashioned work ethic showed the measure of the man.
Notably, Ian added vocals to U.N.K.L.E's “Unreal,” later released as a single under the title “Be There,” and wrote the majority of his sophomore solo set during this same period.
Golden Greats, Ian’s second solo record, was a change in direction for Ian and his band. More guitar-oriented and yet more dancefloor, Golden Greats remains for many one of Ian's greatest moments.
In October of 1999, the first single “Love Like A Fountain” was released. A funky, hyped-up mix of techno-trance, a haunting retro synth with more than a nod to Stevie Wonders' “Superstition,” and a highly effected overdub of vocals made for a blistering track that has grown into a live favorite among Brown’s disciples.
Again, Ian toured incessantly in the UK, Europe, America and Japan for a full 20 months, from the pre-release promotion right up to New Year's Eve '00 in London.
No man can say that Ian Brown does not give it up.
At the beginning of 2001, Ian got busy in the studio with his third album Music Of The Spheres, which took a different turn yet again with its more laid back, more subtle vibe. After road testing some new songs on tour that summer, Ian released the first single from the album, “F.E.A.R.” in September '01. Brown marked his music video directing debut lensing the clip for the track.
During the promotion that followed the release, a well-respected documentary entitled The Works (a must-see for any Brown devotee) was filmed in conjunction with Factory Records’ founder and long time friend, Tony Wilson.
Following the release of Music Of The Spheres, Brown undertook perhaps his busiest and longest live schedule ever. Too stacked with tour dates to hit the studio, Ian took the opportunity to have every track on the album remixed by longtime friend and collaborator James Lavelle (U.N.K.L.E) and Warp Records stalwarts Nightmares On Wax into a wholly different animal that Brown termed Remixes Of The Spheres.
It was following the remix project that Ian, who’s always thinking spherically, but acting locally, famously offered to answer questions from ordinary fans for £15 each and donated the proceeds to the charity SightSavers (£15 being the cost for a cataract operation in the Third World).
At the latter end of 2002, Ian received the prestigious Muso Award for best single for “F.E.A.R.” and joined The Manic Street Preachers as very special guest on their Greatest Hits tour.
Brown spent most of 2003 actively involved in a variety of projects: He collaborated once again with U.N.K.L.E on the track “R.E.I.G.N” for their album Never Never Land; tried his hand at a bit of acting wizardry with a cameo role in the feature film Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban; created the second in the series of the Under The Influence compilation albums; and at the request of erstwhile Icelandic techno-funksters Gus Gus remixed their single “Desire.”
By the summer of 2004, Ian Brown was back on the front cover of NME. He made history by resurrecting the songs of The Stone Roses for one lazy, hazy day in an amphitheatre by a lake in Surrey at sundown. Headlining and selling out a capacity venue gig in aid of The National Trust at the stunning Claremont Landscape Gardens, the legendary Ian Brown and his new band finally gave the kids what they've been waiting for so long: An almost full set of classic Stone Roses tunes.
Then in true Brown style, Ian turns it all on its head with the release of his finest solo album yet, Solarized.
Already soaring in high esteem by the music press, Solarized is without doubt his strongest album to date. Never has Ian produced a record of such musical variation. His music has no regard for personal space, invading the mind and soul and getting deep into the heart of the listener.
Emblematic of the set is the anthemic first single “Keep What Ya Got” on which Ian is joined by another Mancunian legend, Noel Gallagher, who supplies guitar and backing vocals. It’s the kind of song that makes you feel cool when you are listening to it, pure and simple. And, that is, after all, the essence of Ian Brown.
Solarized will be released on February 22, 2005.
Written by Mick Knaggs & TomB, 2004