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Ian Brown - The Greatest


Review: Jack Foley

NEVER one to be backwards in coming forwards about his talent, former Stone Roses frontman, Ian Brown, releases his greatest hits collection, dubbed The Greatest.

The name alone is designed to be emotive and it's certainly debatable whether the monkeyman has ever scaled the same musical heights as he did with the Roses.

But there is still plenty to admire from his four solo albums to date - most of which makes the cut here.

Highlights include the symphonic F.E.A.R, during which he recites a string of acronyms over a luscious stoned beat. It's taken from The Music of the Spheres album which, arguably, remains his best solo effort to date.

While My Star remains an enduring favourite whenever it is played live thanks in no small part to its distinct style that brings out the best in Brown's trademark vocals.

Stronger still, however, is Brown's work with UNKLE, both when they included DJ Shadow among their number and, more recently, when they were simply comprised of James Lavelle and Richard File.

Be There remains an absolute classic, courtesy of its rich beats , while the more recent Reign is notable for reuniting Brown with Mani for their first collaboration since that band split.

Needless to say, it is one of the stand-out tracks on UNKLE's Never Never Land long-player.

Of Brown's most recent material, Keep What Ya Got and Time Is My Everything feature from his disappointing Solarized album.

The former, of course, was the somewhat bland collaboration between Brown and Oasis' Noel Gallagher (which ticked all the expected boxes and nothing more), while the latter was one of the few tracks to really stand out courtesy of an Ennio Morricone-style piece of atmospheric sampling and a brass section courtesy of Tim Hutton of Groove Armada.

New single, All Ablaze, is similarly disappointing and feels like it was recorded with a greatest hits compilation in mind.

That's not to say that The Greatest isn't worth getting, for Brown remains an iconic figure on the contemporary music scene and tracks like Dolphins Were Monkeys and Love Like A Fountain suggest why.

It's just that some of the material isn't as great as the lead singer suggests it is.

Related reviews: Ian Brown's Solarized

UNKLE's Never Never Land

Track listing:
1. My Star
2. Corpses In Their Mouths
3. Can't See Me (Bacon & Quarmby Remix)
4. Be There - UNKLE
5. Love Like A Fountain (Single Version)
6. Dolphins Were Monkeys (Single Version)
7. Golden Gaze (Single Version)
8. F.E.A.R.
9. Whispers
10. Forever And A Day (New Version)
11. Keep What Ya Got
12. Time Is My Everything
13. Longsight M13
14. Reign - UNKLE
15. Lovebug (New Version)
16. All Ablaze
17. Return Of The Fisherman

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