He’s one of Warrington’s most famous musicians of all time, and through his work with the legendary band the Stone Roses he’ll have played a key role in the youth of many of our readers.
Now, if you’re lucky and you ask him nicely, Ian Brown might be able to bring positivity to your future as well as your past!
Brown’s latest album ‘Ripples’ has been out since February this year (having split the crowd when it comes to reviews), and the singer is still releasing new singles in support of that album. The second of those singles is ‘From Chaos To Harmony,’ and it comes with an original and unusual concept for a music video. Taking the form of a short film, the narrative follows a child who encounters a facsimile of Brown’s head inside a glass case at a fairground, offering the boy a chance to have his fortune told. When he pays in a gold coin, Brown’s animatronic head (complete with glowing red eyes) begins to sing. It’s an unsettling sight, and certainly grabs the viewer’s attention.
Fortune-telling machines of this kind were once a popular sight at seafronts and arcades. Although they were no more mystic than the contents of a fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant, they made for attractive curiosities to tourists, who would happily part with a few pennies to gain a printed ‘personal’ forecast for the future – usually accompanied by a few short sentences from the figure inside the case. Those of you who have a fondness for 1980s movies may remember that such a machine turned out to have magical properties in the movie ‘Big,’ in which a child was turned into a full-sized Tom Hanks, with hilarious consequences. We haven’t heard any tales whether Ian Brown’s head has similar properties, but if you’d like to find out for yourself, you’ll be able to do so by taking a trip into Manchester.
While the head in the video sometimes looks like it’s a product of computer animation, it isn’t. It’s a real working model, created by the talented hands of John Nolan, who also directed the video. Every part of the model moves exactly as is seen in the video, and so it’s every bit as likely to be able to predict your future as an equivalent machine on Blackpool’s seafront! Now, it’s on temporary display at Piccadilly Records on Oldham Street, Manchester for the next week, and visitors are invited.
Those who attend the store to have a look at it may even get a chance to see the man himself. Brown is known to be a regular visitor to the shop, and even gave an intimate performance there in February when his new album was first released. Whether he’s curious enough about the fortune-telling machine to go and inspect it in person is uncertain, but we wouldn’t bet against it! Where the sculpture will go next is also uncertain. Piccadilly Records have been very clear that they only have it ‘on loan.’ It might be the case that Nolan wants to keep it himself – or Brown might want it for his own collection. It would have to beat hanging a portrait of yourself in your front room!
Brown isn’t the first musician to find himself immortalized in the form of a coin-operated attraction, but he may have found the most unusual route to achieving it. Various legendary musicians of the past including Guns n’ Roses, Jimi Hendrix and Motorhead are all now slot games on popular UK online casinos like LateCasino.com, which offer their fans the chance to listen to their music while trying to win money, but the Stone Roses frontman is the first that we’re aware of to have his own psychic machine. His device might not be able to make you a fortune in the same way the slot games can, but it might be able to tell you one instead.
Fans of Brown’s famous band may want to put the machine to use to find out what’s happening with the Stone Roses. ‘Ripples’ was Brown’s first solo release for a decade, and during that ten years the focus of his work has been with the band, who reformed to much acclaim and fanfare in 2011. At the time of the reformation, there was much talk of a new album, but no new material turned up until 2016, when two singles were released. If a full album was ever recorded, it’s never been released and may now be destined to stay hidden forever.
The last gig the band played to date was in June 2017, at the end of which Brown told the audience, ‘Don’t be sad because it’s over, smile because it happened,’ which immediately fueled suggestions that they were done as a unit. The notoriously media-shy band have never released a statement to confirm this is the case, but as time continues to pass and Brown continues to head in his own direction, the chances of seeing anything new from the indie-rock pioneers appear to be diminishing. While no new album appearing within the six years that the band back together had to be classed as a disappointment, we should take Brown’s advice and be happy that they ever got back together at all – at one point, the odds against them doing so were incredibly high. All the reviews of their final performance at Hampden Park suggest that they went out on a high.
Whether the fortune-telling version of Brown can explicitly confirm or deny the band’s split, transform you from a child into an adult or back again, or just inform you that a tall dark stranger is coming into your life, it has to be worth a visit. If you’re interested, we strongly recommend getting down to Piccadilly Records before the weekend to see it up close and in person before it potentially disappears from public view forever. While you’re at it, why not pick up Brown’s latest album if you haven’t done so already?