Ian Brown On Unknown Sundays 2024

As an album junkie, I’m always in the thick of thumbing individually, one by one, in a seemingly never ending alphabetical arrangement of either genres of music or in my local case — used bins A to Z.  The Stone Roses was one of those finds in the used been that I had seen many times in my flipping of CD(s).  I had an impression, without every hearing an album that they had a indie low-sonic sound that I wouldn’t be that into, and considering what I was into back in that time frame and forward for a decade there was just a lot of other music that was reaching my ears.  I wanted a vocalist that popped, music that reached out and slapped you within instrumentation, too.  So, their self-titled debut sat there for two years, and the price would eventually drop (but that didn’t engage me to buy it — even though I buy everything almost).  I come back to used bins about every week, and it wasn’t until probably around the near end of 1990s that a music discussion at the checkout made me rethink my misguided passing of the Stone Roses (notice I didn’t say I was wrong about categorizing them).

Underrated albums of the 1990s, was the discussion, which was refreshing, because most of the discussions of 1999 was more about the Y2K conversion and computer shutdown and potential end times (like that’s never been a possibility — solar eclipse)Second Coming was the album they discussed, so I was intrigued.  So, I made a note that I should give the band a shot.  Next week, when in the store I bought that debut for $6.99 used.  And, it was exactly what I thought it was, and I really was not engaged with it.  Remember, though, this was NOT the Second Coming album, so I took my disconnect with a grain of salt, and made (like I usually do) a physical note to be on the lookout for Second Coming when it came to the used bin, which of course it eventually did, not too long after.

What a difference four years makes!  The John Squire guitar work gets a heavier treatment, great exposure, and the vocalist is more pronounced and has the English swagger and delivery that is engaging me more on this record.  Again, this is not to say that the debut is not a good record, and doesn’t have those moment of guitar wickedness from John Squire (because going back it sure does), but somehow this one just had me at the get go — and by ear throat when it was done!  It had so much groove, and it was something different in the alternative genre that had wonderfully decimated the music scene.  It’s that guitar work of Squire that was sending me unique vibes.  Interesting riff concepts and bridge work.  So, boom, I agree with those at the checkout, as it is truly an underappreciated, missed gem in the albums of 1990, and that debut gets more respect from me that it did.

So, when I start looking for more Stone Roses, it’s not going to happen.  That’s when you start to go down that desperate rabbit hole to find where the musicians went, right?  Oh, that’s right, you’re probably not an obsessive like me.  So I found Ian Brown’s solo career with his debut Unfinished Monkey Business, and from there it was a satisfying rock groove and production reach that was somewhat close enough to feel cool and engaging.  In fact, that was probably as close to Stone Roses as there were ex-members helping. But this big miss is definitely Mr Squire, but that’s another Unknown Sundays.  And, as the albums move on Aziz Ibrahim begins to find his own signature within the Ian Brown solo albums to give the albums more and more each time. This was definitely the case when Solarized, the fourth solo album of Ian Brown emerged after the Music of the Spheres sort of cool, minimalisms.

Ian Brown is a technical, sound producer and style blender of vocal and groove.  The way he incorporates the two or sometimes bringing in a third conceptual sound like electronica or ambient/club/loop (like Unkle and Nightmares On Wax on the Music of the Spheres Remixes) is always to expand the sound and the reach of the album.  It’s wonderful alternative ear candy, and since there’s no Stone Roses, there’s no question that Ian Brown is as close to it as it will get.  His multi-instrumental connections are astounding to here whether sonic or alternative over-the-top produced.  The hiatus which somehow brought out the bongos of Ripples, is another dimension of Brown’s musical infectiousness.  The only sad part is the lack of promotion and attention to such an artist beyond the small pool that knows, and now I’m sharing this with you!  So go, dive down this groovy, alternative rabbit hole and hear what all my attention is about, as well as the fuss of having Stone Roses make another album.

Ian is an interesting personality.  He has had songs removed from streaming do to radical points of view during COVID (which seems extremely interesting in censorship), as well as having done some jail time for actions on a plane, but with all of that, he’s still that frontman from this incredibly sought out band in the late 80s and early 90s.  The impression of then, still leads to the tempo, creativity and groove rock musician and producer he is today, and an artist in the music multiverse that — if you haven’t heard much of — you definitely should.

Albums by Ian Brown in my collection
  • Unfinished Monkey Business (1998)
  • Golden Greats  (1999)
  • Music of the Spheres (2001)
  • Solarized (2004)
  • The World Is Yours (2007)
  • My Way  (2009)
Stone Roses albums in my collection
  • The Stone Roses (1989)
  • Second Coming (1994)
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