I’ve never really thought that much of Ian Brown‘s singing prowess. The relative lack of Stone Roses postings over the years should be something of a giveaway.

But I am very fond of something he contributed to back in the late 90s.

From allmusic:-

Since its 1992 inception, UNKLE has been the primary musical outlet of James Lavelle. The co-founder of Mo’ Wax, one of the most consequential English independent labels of the ’90s, Lavelle has been joined by a carousel of primary collaborators and an ever-changing array of guest contributors who have helped him indulge in styles ranging from sample-based hip-hop to downcast stoner rock.

In the mid-late 90s, UNKLE consisted solely of Lavelle and DJ Shadow, but they came up with the concept of bring in a whole host of guest musicians and singers for the debut studio album.  Recorded over a two-year period, Psyence Fiction appeared in August 1998, and across its twelve tracks you could enjoy the vocal talents of, among others, Richard Ashcroft, Badly Drawn Boy, Mike D (Beastie Boys) and Thom Yorke.

The album was well received and sold enough copies to reach #4 in the UK charts despite not containing any hit singles.  Be There, released in February 1999, as a stand-alone single, was a remix of the album track Unreal with a new vocal, written and sung by Ian Brown.

mp3: UNKLE – Be There

It’s a wonderful piece of trip-hop and Brown’s understated delivery, keeping himself well within his range, is a perfect addition.

Be There was released on 2 x CD singles and on 12″ vinyl.  The copy I have is CD1 and its two additional tracks consist of a remix and instrumental remix of the single:-

mp3 : UNKLE – Be There (Underdog Remix)
mp3 : UNKLE – Be There (Underdog Instrumental)

Underdog is the alias of Trevor Jackson, someone who is very active currently in design, art and fashion but in the 90s was responsible for remixing hundreds of songs across all sorts of genres.

This was the bonus track on CD2.

mp3: UNKLE – The Knock (On Effect)

The Knock (Drums Of Death Part 2) was a track on Psyence Fiction, and featured Mike D on vocal on a track he had co-written with DJ Shadow.  The remix is very radical and is the work of Noel Gallagher who also contributed his guitar licks which were added to a sample of drums from a Led Zeppelin track.   It’s a track that actually wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Beastie Boys album and is a bit of a hidden gem.

(and yes, the timing of this one is deliberate after yesterday’s posting)



  1. “(and yes, the timing of this one is deliberate after yesterday’s posting)”

    Yesterdays post did cause me to check out ICAs for the Stone Roses on NVV. (Where is ‘What the world is waiting for’ – their most underrated song! 🙂 )

    Meanwhile, back to the vocal prowess of Ian Brown……..hmmm. Well, lets go down that rabbit hole……according to Osmosis on ‘The Range Planet’ (ProBoard for vocalists):

    ‘The Stone Roses’ self-titled debut was released in 1989 and would feature Ian at his peak — a contemplative and melodic voice that he has went on to explore throughout the rest of his career.

    In the studio, Ian’s comfort zone seems fairly large due to his very particular melodies, and he is rarely heard breaking out of his established range. Though his low notes remain strong down to their very bottom, he sports nary a mixed voice and his high notes flip into falsetto soon after A4. ‘

    A few questionable notes – but not much.

    Maybe it is just the way vocals are mixed/mastered on Unkle (more prominent) vs Stone Roses.

  2. Brown had a cameo in the third Harry Potter movie. He’s sitting in the Leaky Cauldron reading a book. That’s pretty much my favorite thing he ever did.

  3. I listen to “Fools Gold” in silent protest. It may be true that Ian Brown is not a great singer. But I remember that he was very handsome.

  4. Psyence Fiction still gets the occasional spin on my turntable. Most stuff that DJ Shadow has a hand is worth a listen. I heartily recommend the documentary The Man From Mo’Wax, about James Lavelle and the general history of his label, including his tragic overreach and egomania when he began thinking that he ought to have composer royalties on UNKLE stuff despite contributing next to nothing to the actual sound coming out the speakers. An ‘interesting’ character, and a bit sad to see his delusions of grandeur bringing down a career that contributed much to the development of hip-hop, especially in the UK.

  5. Thanks Fraser…..sometimes I forget to change the tags when using an old post as a template. This isn’t the first time it’s happened.

    It’s now fixed.

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