The return of King Monkey is on…….
Ian Brown is one of those musicians who has given us choice. Whether it be with The Stone Roses or his solo outings, you can safely say that he has made sure that not one of his albums has been the same. And with his new solo release, Ripples, that trend continues.
His seventh solo album release in fact, and he seems to be back to his usual relaxed self as well. And the album begins in that relaxed style with the opener, First World Problems. A proper chilled vibe to this song, and has had me repeating this song quite a few times. It almost sounds like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. Track two is a cover of the Barrington Levy number, Black Roses. And for a moment, Mr Brown goes rock on us. This is a thumper of a song, with his son, Casey, giving the guitar riff the sound it deserves.
Track three is the acoustic number, Breathe And Breathe Easy (The Everness Of Now). This is a song that Liam Gallagher might wish he had written, it’s a fantastic one. It has Brown and his vocals hitting their rawness, and that’s a good thing. Anyone who has listened to his long solo career knows what he can do, and this song demonstrates that. The Dream And The Dreamer is the fourth song in, and is a bass driven, groovy number and, for me anyway, it’s the one of the best songs he has done since Stellify.
Half way point of the album is, From Chaos To Harmony. A song that got many thinking it’s a song about the Stone Roses, and it probably is. To me, it’s the sound of a man who feels much happier in his true habitat. A song of being free from the pressures that came with a band that defined an era.The sixth song of the album, It’s Raining Diamonds, is the next offering, and keeps the relaxed vibes going. A real chill by the sea kind of sound to it.
Title track, Ripples, follows and is another bass driven song. The keyboard element and guitars do hark back to Unfinished Monkey Business, the whole album has that feel to it. This is a slick number though, even if it does end a little abruptly. Blue Sky Day is the eighth song on the album, and believe me when I tell you that this came close to being the standout track on the album. Brown and his vocals do this calm, cool number justice though, to great effect.
Penultimate track on the album is Soul Satisfaction. And this track brings satisfaction as it is THE standout track of the album. It’s brilliant, lyrically and musically. If you are going to write a great song on an album, do a song like this. So cool, so grooved, so Ian Brown. The album finishes with Break Down The Walls (Warm Up Jam). A nod to reggae, but with a peaceful message, and it finishes the album off nicely.
Lets not mess around here, this is what Ian Brown does best. Yes, I realise what he did with the Stone Roses but if it comes to hearing who Ian Brown really is in musical terms, then his solo material is the place to go. No two albums are the same, and if he carries on with that attitude, then we can expect more greatness from King Monkey. A terrific album from a true icon.
The album, Ripples, from Ian Brown is out now on the Polydor Records label and is available on all formats