Top positive review
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The Best Yet
on 12 November 2002
I truly wish this had been released as the original album. The only song not improved by the remixing here is "Gravy Train" which for me was the standout track of "Music of the Spheres." F.E.A.R. is possibly the best thing I've heard UNKLE do since "Be There" and that is saying something. "Northern Lights" actually sounds like song now rather than a disemboweled chanted mantra despite starting worryingly like the appalling 808 State remix of "Made of Stone." But just wait... "Forever and A Day" has a backwards section to rival "Full Fathom Five" and "Don't Stop"... then when things seemed to have peaked your hit with what has to be the best thing any of the ex-Stone Roses have done to date... "Shadow of A Saint" was good on the parent album but here it is insanely good. This is a stormer of track that goes from Brown's trademark electronic sound of now into a classic guitar riff (stolen from "Getting High" off the Golden Greats ablum) that adds the urgency and edge to take the man back up into the stratosphere where he belongs. You hear this and remember why people saying Ian Brown cannot sing can be shurgged off with a glance that says... it's just more important than that.
Okay so the instrumental versions are a bit of a con... but do sound good and I'm sure there are DJ's out there who will make good use of it (it'd be interesting to hear "The Streets" get hold of "F.E.A.R", all lush strings, bongos and reverse loops and deep dub bass).
The live version of "El Mundo Pequeno" is a sweet touch and enjoyable rather than great while new live track "Cokane In My Brain" sounds storming with two-tone ska revivalists getting smacked about by a scratch pervert while the King of Cool gives another anti-hymn to the false God of Columbia. It's only let down by being the only thing as raw on the whole album as it as recorded live in Nuremburg... maybe it coulda been served better as a last hidden track but it makes you think the Coral aren't quite as obscure as the NME would have you beieve which has to be a good thing.
All in all the first record to blow my hair back in ages and Ian Brown's best work to date (especially with the addition of My Star 2002, and Superstar though why, why include the dreary Hear no See No Speak no.?).
Let us all rejoice.