Ian Brown - Unfinished Monkey Business (Vinyl)

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Unfinished Monkey Business is the debut solo album by Ian Brown released in February 1998 via Polydor Records. The album was self-financed and produced by Brown, and was his first album release since the break-up of The Stone Roses in October 1996. Ex-Roses members Mani, Nigel Ipinson, Aziz Ibrahim and Robbie Maddix helped pen and perform the instruments on many of the album's tracks. "Ice Cold Cube", which premiered at The Stone Roses final concert, was first released on this album.

Much of Unfinished Monkey Business focuses on the acrimonious split between Brown and former Roses' guitarist John Squire. Brown shares his unabashed opinion of his ex-bandmate on tracks including "Ice Cold Cube", "Can't See Me", "What Happened To Ya" and "Deep Pile Dreams", focusing in particular on Squire's supposed self-centredness, two-facedness and dependence on drugs, specifically cocaine.

The track "Intro Under The Paving Stones: The Beach" was inspired by a slogan from the French May 1968 protests, an event that also inspired the song "Bye Bye Badman" from The Stone Roses. A popular protest slogan at the time, "Sous les pavés, la plage!" is translated into English as "Beneath the pavement, the beach!", and refers to the sand found under paving stones ripped up by rioters to use as projectiles aimed at the police.

The words 'I only ever wanted the one with the flag but all you ever wanted was a sixty dollar bag and a cheap limousine for your deep pile dreams on the highway' also appear in Babyshambles' second album, Shotter's Nation. As a result, Brown has songwriting credits on the track "French Dog Blues".

Recording began in Brown's home studio and was completed at Chiswick Reach Studios in London. Brown played most of the instruments himself.

On the album's title, Brown stated "The press used to refer to me as 'simian lead singer'. My arms have always been too long for my body. But I've been called 'monkey' all my life, so I thought I'd keep that theme."


Several years on, and still everyone is playing that first Stone Roses LP, one of the great achievements in British rock and pop. But the magnificence of that well-loved album has also been the problem since. The Roses spent the early '90s suing the label that released it, then signed a new, bigger deal, released a total dud of a turd of a turkey of a second LP, lost its members one by one, then mercifully quit with a whimper. Fantastic guitarist John Squire ruined Second Coming with his sudden obsession with Jimmy Page-style wank-soloing, and his subsequent LP with the Seahorses is an equally miserable piece of bad bombast for the same reason. So now it's singer Ian Brown's turn, his first post-Roses try at convincing the world that The Stone Roses was not a momentary fluke, an accidental, monumental treasure. But he, too, falls a little short. Without Squire (at least the 1989 version!), Brown is lacking in guitar talent. The work here, though competent, is pedestrian. The bass and drums are also well below the level of Mani and Reni. And also, without Squire's help, Brown's songwriting is vaguely hooky but average. Perhaps Unfinished Monkey Business is too well titled. But unlike Second Coming and the Seahorses, at least this feels good to listen to, as compelling background sound. What Brown lacks in backing and material, he does his best to make up for with singing attitude, groove, and, most of all, production vibe and atmosphere. Several nice songs, such as "Can't See Me," shake with quiet cool, approaching the Roses' singles "One Love" and "Fools Gold," and a few more-pop tracks, such as "Nah Nah" and the U.K. hit "My Star," are genuine pleasures that bring back the hints of magic for a while. Rarely has such a poorly constructed LP felt so soothing and cool, if vaguely unsatisfying.

By: Jack Rabid.

Intro Under The Paving Stones: The Beach 1:49
My Star 5:13
Can't See Me 4:54
Ice Cold Cube 6:27
Sunshine 3:58
Lions 6:52
Corpses In Their Mouths 4:09
What Happened To Ya Part 1 3:16
What Happened To Ya Part 2 5:38
Nah Nah 3:55
Deep Pile Dreams 3:39
Unfinished Monkey Business 3:10

Design [Sleeve Design] – Ian Brown, Mission (8)
Engineer [Extra Recording Engineer] – Nigel Luby
Engineer [Mixing Engineer] – Dave Hyatt
Engineer [Recording Engineer] – Nick Terry
Management [(Dub Strika Management)] – Noel Walters
Photography By – Fabiola Quiroz
Producer [Extra Production] – Aziz Ibrahim
Producer, Vocals – Ian Brown
Recorded at Chiswick Reach Studios London, Longsight Manchester, Tawny House & The Red Dragon Studios.
Mixed at The Forge Studios Oswestry