Top critical review
Free Ian Brown
on 14 September 2004
"Free Ian Brown," I always confused when I walked passed this everyday on my way to school, i remember once staring at it, thinking that Ian Brown some kind of political leader who got locked up. I was born and lived in longsight for the first 9 years of my life, i lived on the exact street where the now infamous graffiti was.
9 years on, and the wall has been half knocked down and painted over, a bright red, and longsight is mere memory of my early childhood. As for Ian Brown well, although he can count on the now 30 something's to buy his cds, but there is now a generation of people who weren't at Spike Island or that performance at the Reading Festival and have only heard about it. So Ian Brown has to earn his keep as a serious recording artist who makes great music, otherwise he will just be a relic.
This album is no massive revolution, its a continuation from Music Of The Spheres, there are those minimalist almost spoken word poems, on this album for an example towards the end of "upside down" he quickly mumbles something about the control the wealth, and although i know he means it, i cant be bothered to care about the same way i would if this were bono screaming at the top of the lungs, when Ian does it sounds like a Uni lecture on tape. But to be honest with you, I cant help and be mesmerized because the minimalism demands more attention.
Musically, he continues to experiment, don't worry though there are no Spanish songs on this album, however trumpets feature quite a lot, The Sweet Example being a great example. The album has lots of "World Music" influences, such as the Middle Eastern tinged sound effects on "One Way Ticket to Paradise," and the Samba rhythms on "Kiss Ya Lips [No I.D]."
However when he goes for the hooks and choruses, his bread and butter, which are found mostly on 2nd half of the album, i don't know any other musicians who reach such majestic heights, infact majestic does describe the music well, it simply towers away. On most of the songs Noel Gallagher contributes for other artists his presence overwhelms the song, but if you have seen the video for "Keep What Ya Got," then you would know, that it's Noel that looks like the pauper looking up at his king. I wouldn't have even known it was him if I didn't see the video. Even his Political statements make more sense when the music is loud and the hooks just flow, like they do on "Kiss Ya Lips [No I.D]," his message to Mr Blunket with his scathing and poignant lyrics "ID Cards don't stop no hijacked jet"
It's no revolution and the man has even started covering stone roses song live, but he has delivered a very solid album but I cant help thinking that he should do what they've done in Longsight. Paint over the wall, then maybe he can truly "Free Ian Brown."