Ian Brown has been his own worst enemy and best friend throughout his career. He was part of one of the biggest bands in Britain’s music history, The Stone Roses, and he helped bring them crumbling down right before his very eyes. After their breakup, things did not go to well for Ian, as he spent ’99 behind bars for an immature stunt he pulled with an airplane crew member. The lackluster push and disappointing effort of Unfinished Monkey Business left critics and the label writing off Brown’s career as finished. Still, his prison time was well spent; Golden Greats shows that this man’s time is far from over.
There’s a quote that goes, “Prison will do a lot to a man.” “Free My Way” starts out with inspired doodling straight from prison, “Jingle jangle/ Here’s the jailer.” Brown’s vocal presence has a really distant ring, which was a large part of his early success, resurfacing for highlights of Golden Greats. The record is pretty well tailored to his singing style. Songs “Love Like A Fountain”, “So Many Soldiers”, and “Set My Baby Free” are worthy radio singles. The musical direction and drive of the record aims to combine rock and electronic styles with chunks of trip-hop (“Babasonics”) and sprinkles of dance (“Love Like A Fountain”). “Getting’ High” is the most forward rock song on Golden Greats, if you’re searching for anything comparable to Stone Roses’ material.
The record does hit and miss at some moments due to the producers and band members trying to get too fancy in attempting to make a smash hit record. The album version of “Dolphins Were Monkeys” is highly overproduced, while the Unkle remix is a far more desirable and stronger track than the original due to its stripped down simplicity. Songs such as “First World” and “So Many Soldiers” could have been better designed in a pop format because after three minutes these songs lose their welcome.
This record shows far more potential than Unfinished Monkey Business ever did. I think that we’ll be hearing only positive words from here on out about Mr. Brown.