First, let me start off with my personal plea. Please get the Stone Roses back together! I digress. Mancunian monkeyman Ian Brown's fourth solo album, Solarized, might be his strongest album to date. Maybe it's fatherhood, maybe it's age, but he seems to be getting better. From the opening track "Longsight M13" (a song about the part of Manchester that still shows the legendary "Free Ian Brown" graffiti), with it's Persia-meets-acid-house backwards loops, to the Arthur Lee style Mexican mariachi vibes (provided by Tim Hutton of Groove Armada) of "Time Is My Everything" and "The Sweet Fantastic", Ian has used a plethora of styles and influences to create a solid album. More hits than misses (see "Solarized" and "Upside Down"), Solarized does not stray far from Ian's trademark programmed beats and rough production values. Top tune "One Way Ticket To Heaven" is Brown's attempt at a James Bond-style "Live And Let Die" epic. The first single "Keep What Ya Got" features another Manchester legend, Noel Gallagher, who co-wrote the track with Ian and plays guitar and backing vocals. The past and present unite in a stormer of an anthem. Paging John Squire.

Guilty pleasure or great album? I say keep what you got going and put the Roses back together with Oasis as your opener and claim what is rightfully yours, the world!

Ian Brown
Polydor UK