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
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
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
UNKLE's Never Never Land