Released in 1998, this was Ian Brown's first solo album entitled in homage to his nickname "King Monkey", which was reportedly given to him by the drummer from Dodgy. Subject to somewhat unflattering reviews, it is in my opinion a solid first offering, and includes some really outstanding tracks. Even more impressive is that Brown actually taught himself how to play a number of new instruments in order to provide himself with backup for the album. Total running time is 53:01. Major collaborators on the album include Aziz Ibrahim and Nigel Ippinson.
Even as a dedicated Brown follower, I'm willing to admit this track is useless. It's like The Beatles' Revolution #9, only not as chilling or good. Moving on...
My Star 5:13
Great song about space exploration, although some wry observers have suggested that the star in the song is actually Brown himself, and that he is jokingly suggesting that NASA ought to check him out. Released as a single, My Star is inoffensive, has a nice beat, and is well worth a listen.
Can't See Me 4:54
Can't See Me has a sort of rough, raw quality about it, and may have provided some fuel for those who criticised Unfinished Monkey Business as being befuddled and under-arranged. While the song may not be a standout track, it's got a bit of hip-hop flavour and a good bassline, and is far from being a disappointment.
- Ice Cold Cube 6:27
A fusion of rock, weird lyrics, and a some very catchy guitar hooks, Ice Cold Cube is melodic rock that is pleasing overall. Goes on for a bit too long, though, considering the repetition in the verses.
- Sunshine 3:58
In my opinion, Sunshine is the best song on the entire album. A mellow, guitar-based track, Sunshine is the sort of song that renders a person comatose (but in a good way, of course). The lyrics are odd and introspective, but it is Brown's delivery of them that gives real character to the song. While Ian Brown's singing voice is often compared to a foghorn, the meandering style of Sunshine is perfectly suited to his voice.
- Lions 6:52
Featuring Denise from Primal Scream, Lions is a great, groovable track. The lyrics here are really nothing special, but the beat is great and really dancable (if you're so inclined). A great example of the diversity found on UMB, this is one of the better tracks on the album.
- Corpses in Their Mouths 4:09
Also released as a single, Corpses is right behind Sunshine as the second-best song on the album. Corpses is quite mellow, but with a sort of edgy character to it. A great pop song.
- What Happened to Ya? Part I 3:15
Pretty good song, with a pleasing country flavour to it.
- What Happened to Ya? Part II 5:38
Same lyrics as Part I, set at a slower tempo, and featuring an electric guitar wailing in the background. One of the poorer efforts of the album. A definite space-filler.
- Nah Nah 3:55
One of the more poppy songs on the album, Nah Nah features Brown deadpanning about a failed relationship. Nah Nah is melodic and inoffensive, even if it is a bit bland when compared to the rest of the album. Still, it's a pretty good song, despite its dopey title, and it livens up considerably by the bridge.
- Deep Pile Dreams 3:39
A chill way to end to end the album, Brown winds down with another attack on a failed relationship. The track is a weird coupling of a low-key bass beat and weird noises that sound like spaceship lasers. Somehow, the mix just works.
- Unfinished Monkey Business 3:11
More of an outro than an actual song, Unfinished Monkey Business sounds like a mix between the music from a Super Mario Brothers game and the music that they play at Jewish weddings.