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


The Arthur Brown Band



4.09 | 184 ratings

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4 stars REVIEW OF 2xCD DELUXE EDITION (Esoteric 2010)

Esoteric have truly excelled themselves with this definitive, deluxe edition of what can only be regarded as a cornerstone of proto-progressive rock. The career of the `Crazy World' was a short one, "you're gonna burn!" sang Arthur on the Number One smash `Fire', and burn out they certainly did, so this remains their definitive recorded document. Hats off to the exemplary packaging here, it is a truly lovely artefact assembled with the utmost care. The slipcase features a wonderful photo of Arthur, head-dress ablaze at the height of his children-scaring powers. Within, of course, is the iconic original sleeve restored to perfection and second only perhaps to `In The Court Of The Crimson King' in impact. A foldout poster sleeve complete with all the ephemera you could wish for really makes this package something special.

Produced by Who manager Kit Lambert and overseen by Pete Townsend, the album is clearly divided. Brown was intending the whole album to be about fire (and of course the next three albums to be about the other elements in turn, this was 1968) Lambert, however, had other ideas and insisted on stage favourites `I Put A Spell On You' (Screamin' Jay Hawkins) and `I've Got Money' (James Brown) appearing alongside unrelated band pieces on Side Two. Ironically of course it was `Fire' which leapt out of the flames on side one's suite and all the way into the singles chart, making Arthur Brown a pop star overnight. I'd bet that few who saw his original appearance on `Top of the Pops' have been the same since.

It is the `Fire' suite on side one of which Brown is justifiably proudest. Whitby's finest has a scream to make Ian Gillan blush with shame, and Vincent Crane's well orchestrated organ and string arrangements carry most of the musical weight, backed by Drachen Theaker's drums (Carl Palmer was to join the band after Theaker's sacking in the USA, although he never recorded with them). The 5 song suite is held together musically by well thought out thematic reprises, over which the god of hellfire weaves his impressive poetic and vocal spell. There is a mystery, humour and charm here which makes it a delightful listen in these cynical times, and it can truly be said to qualify as one of the first progressive rock epics, released as it was in June 1968.

Side Two is no let down by any means, and although lacking in cohesion there is much to entertain, not least the bizarre `Spontaneous Apple Creation'. Just what were they ON? (don't answer that). The first disc retains the original album intact in re-mastered glory. The second disc is another 40 odd minutes of very worthwhile bonus material, including both sides of the pre-album single `Devil's Grip' with comedy B-Side `Give Him A Flower'. There's an intriguing first version of `Fire' replete with bizarre ending, BBC recordings featuring the plummy tones of Brian Matthew sounding not quite hip to the trip, and a worthwhile restatement of the Fire Suite in Mono.

This excellent package is all you could ever want to know about The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and serves as the last word on this highly influential and entertaining album.

beebfader | 4/5 |


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