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The World Is Yours

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Album Review

The brash young face of the Stone Roses in 1987 would hardly seem to have mellowed into the workmanlike star vocalist of 2007, but Ian Brown (rather) quietly matured into a dependable record-maker, with occasional spots of brilliance in his discography. His second and third records are post-Brit-pop masterpieces, and he's never made a disappointing record. The World Is Yours actually does have its disappointing moments, but it also has some high points, too. Case in point: it features the best band Brown has ever accumulated — ex-Pistols Steve Jones on guitar and Paul Cook on drums, plus Happy Mondays' Paul Ryder on bass — but they appear on only two tracks. Those two, "Sister Rose" and "Me and You Forever," are incredible. Only an all-star team like this could have produced a sound that's as loose as a great rock & roll band (we're talking Faces or Rolling Stones here) but also as tight as an in-the-pocket backing band has to be. The rest of the album has strings featured prominently on every track, plus heavy reverb on the guitars and echo on the drums, creating a rigidly technical sound that's half dub-reggae and half hip-hop circa 2006 channeling soul circa 1972. This proves to be the work of Buffalo hip-hop producer Emile (aka Emile Haynie), who has worked on single tracks by C-Rayz Walz, Ghostface Killah, Cormega, Big Noyd, and others. Aside from the intrigue of Brown's choice of producer, the results leave much to be desired. Emile isn't satisfied to craft simple, hard-hitting rap productions, he seems to want to exercise a classical itch and make sweeping Gorecki-type orchestrations that miss their mark. (One great exception is "Eternal Flame.") Brown's lyrics aren't stellar either — the opener trots out a series of clichés ("You can only find the gold by digging in the dirt/ If you're gonna play with fire, then you're gonna get burnt/You can never reach the heights and avoid the hurt yeah/The world is yours"). The second track adds some crude philosophy, with "Just as life is for living, so love is for giving/Life's no simple situation/There's the added complication, that the reason we're here nobody knows/In all creation." Brown can be brilliant or blindingly obvious, all depending on the quality of his productions, since his vocals and delivery rarely waver. He can tell us that dolphins were monkeys and sound great, or he can decry war, the plight of street children in Rio de Janeiro (as he does here) and sound pedestrian. He sounds most engaged, and writes his best lyrics, on the anti-war "Illegal Attacks" (with Sinéad O'Connor).

Biography

Born: 20 February 1963 in Ancoats, Gt. Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The frontman for one of the most revered British bands of the 1980s and '90s, Ian Brown symbolized the arrogant cocksureness of his mouthpiece, the Stone Roses. Although the group released one of the three or four most influential records of the decade in 1989 (their debut, at that), they slowly imploded during the early '90s and released only one more album before splitting up. Guitarist/songwriter John Squire formed a new band, Seahorses, while bassist Mani (Gary Mounfield) joined Primal Scream....
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The World Is Yours, Ian Brown
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