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The Arthur Brown Band - The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown CD (album) cover


The Arthur Brown Band



4.09 | 195 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Why is it so cold out here, so cold. Let me in...

Before Black Sabbath's 'satanic' first album, there was The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, which with the benefit of hindsight is one of the more frightening albums of the era. It's not often that one hears a singer begging to be let in to Hell. Sure that front cover is all psychedelic primary colors, but the back is all shades of gray and black.

What was Side 1 is a suite of sorts, the theme being sin and Hellfire and similar topics not exactly at the top of the average teenage mind at the time, which nonetheless did not stop Fire from being a successful single. Hence we all know (or should know) the famous I am the god of Hellfire... lyric of Fire, but what most don't know is that the song was merely a part of this great conceptual suite: Prelude/Nightmare, Fanfare/Fire Poem, Fire, Come and Buy, and Time/Confusion. This is pure proto-prog if there ever was such thing. The dynamics are impeccable: the slow awakening of Prelude contrasted with the staccato organ madness of Nightmare; the stately trumpet of Fanfare vs. the jazz groove of Fire Poem. Come and Buy and Time/Confusion are both surely dark beasts, that reprise lyrics/musical themes from Nightmare.

Beyond being Arthur Brown's first stab at rock immortality, this was also our first hearing (in hearing of) Vincent Crane's vision. Brown and Crane were made for each other: Brown's menacing lyrics and vocal histrionics, Crane's all-or-nothing Hammond music.

The music on the second side, though no less driving, is somewhat less compelling in that it consists largely of standard-fare R&B. Perhaps the high point is a cover of Screaming Jay Hawkins' I Put a Spell on You, which manages to merge the original Screaming Jay version with that recorded by ex-Animal keyboardist Alan Price that was released about this time.

Hugely overlooked, this album helped to spawn organ-driven rock, and Brown's vocals were surely an influence on singers as diverse as Ian Gillian and Rob Halford. No one can shreik quite like Arthur, however. For anyone interested in early incarnations of prog, this one is certainly recommended.

jammun | 4/5 |


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