Reissue: Ian Brown – Unfinished Monkey Business
It’s possible rock history has witnessed a more precipitous decline than the drop-off in quality between The Stone Roses’ zeitgeist-setting self-titled 1989 debut and their dreadful 1994 follow-up, Second Coming. But God knows what it was.
Expectations were thus decidedly mixed for Ian Brown’s 1998 solo debut. John Squire’s Seahorses had already seen their Do It Yourself hit No.2 and go platinum – would Brown be able to cut it going it alone?
The answer, as this vinyl-only reissue confirms, was no, not really. Shorn of his former colleague’s fitful but mercurial guitar brilliance, Unfinished Monkey Business was a muddy and uneven affair that sounded like a set of patchy demos.
Brown’s vocal has never been his strong point and his songwriting smarts were also found wanting as he took snidey pot-shots at his former guitarist. Deep Pile Dreams (“All you ever wanted was a $60 bag”) slagged off Squire’s alleged coke use, but Brown’s own hash habit took its toll on this stoned-sounding album.
Top Five hit My Star had a certain loping charm but Unfinished Monkey Business was decidedly workmanlike. Not a record to go ape over.