I’m the marathon man, catch me if you can / got miles and miles already run, miles and miles still left to come…
The comedown since the apparent demise of The Stone Roses late last month has been soul-stirring for many, but the notion that Ian Brown will be back on the solo bus before long is a sweet remedy to somewhat alleviate the sense of loss.
After noting on the eve of the Roses’ supposed final live performance that he’s penned “about ninety” tracks, tabloid press pounced on the inevitability that a new Ian Brown album will be delivered shortly; claiming the return of the NME ‘Godlike Genius’ is already being recorded.
While Brown’s claim may seem exaggerated, especially considering that the Roses are notoriously less than prolific, it’s worth remembering that the frontman was six solo albums deep – and laying groundwork for a seventh – when he patched things up with Squire, Mani and Reni in 2011.
Admirably prodigious in his output, Brown also released non-album singles and featured on tracks with trio hip duo UNKLE, as well as reaching Radio 1’s A-list playlist with progressive house DJ’s Alex Metric and Steve Angello just months before the Roses announced their return.
In just over a decade, the Mancunian’s cultured eclecticism would see him dabble in an wide array of soundscapes, forging for himself an authentic minimalist identity. Coupled with triumphant lyricism born of a half-humble-half-messiah complex philosophy, the man originally branded the least likely to gain success post-Roses arguably achieved the most.
Touring the world over on numerous occasions as an irrefutably self-made solo star, the quality of Brown’s material is largely understated; perhaps due not only to the sheer brilliance of the Roses’ back catalogue but his often condescending media portrayal.
Not that Brown didn’t contribute to the overly simplistic ‘hardman’ label himself, strengthening the assumption by spending a substantial period in Strangeways Prison for rowing with an air strewardess and various violent altercations at live shows.
Nonetheless, the man is often unfairly disregarded vocally and otherwise (not that he’d bother) – but there’s a reason he was contacted to write songs for global superstars Rihanna and Kanye West: he has a habit of producing utterly unique (see F.E.A.R) and infectious (see Love Like a Fountain) hits.
Rumoured to have been the driving force behind getting the Roses in the studio last year, it’s clear ‘king monkey’ is aching to get back on track, releasing new music in abundance. It is therefore highly intriguing to consider to what extent, if any, the new material will be graced with the touch of Mani or Squire (Reni’s differences with the frontman unfortunately seem as combustible as ever, both personally and creatively).
The sonic direction of new Brown material is anyone’s guess as a result. The real possibility of some Roses-intended tracks carrying over would indicate that a psychedelic pop route will be explored as opposed to the strings and electro-hip-hop of The World is Yours and My Way, respectively.
What’s for certain is the marathon man has been sorely missed in recent years, with no one possessing what it takes to fill his boots as champion of the idiosyncratic. His recreational love of multiple genres from Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye to Sizzla and Black the Ripper always gave his music a soulful flavour that contemporaries like the Gallagher brothers have no real appreciation for.
I’m lay beneath the wings of an angel, I’m standing in the shadow of a saint / all roads are long and no one can deny them, everything will come to those who wait