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THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN: STRANGELANDS

The Arthur Brown Band

Proto-Prog


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The Arthur Brown Band The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown: Strangelands album cover
3.13 | 22 ratings | 4 reviews | 9% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

- PART ONE: The Country
1. Life Jacket (2:03)
2. Purple Airport Of Love (3:08)
3. All Over The Country (2:24)
4. The Lord Doesnt Want You (3:03)
- PART TWO: The City
5. The Sound Of The City (5:39)
- PART THREE: The Cosmos
6. All Forms And Distinctions (5:40)
7. Beyond The See (4:33)
8. Planets Of The Universe (6:18)
9. Twisted Wreckage (1:05)
10. Hold On Cosmos (6:49)
- PART FOUR: The Afterlife
11. Endless Sleep (2:23)

Total time 43:05

Bonus tracks on 1989 CD release - Rustic Hinges' "Replicas"
- T On The Lawn For 3 :
12. I Excitation Wavelength (3:32)
13. II Litmus Transformation (2:05)
14. III Opus Pocus (3:17)
15. IV Crystallized Petard (6:53)
16. V Kinesis (2:37)
17. VI But That Was Then That Was But (4:39)
-
18. High Tide Play Rustic Hinge (4:06)
19. Macedonia (2:28)

Line-up / Musicians

- Arthur Brown / vocals

With:
- Android Funnel / guitar, producer (12-19)
- Tony Hill / guitar (18)
- Jonah Mitchell / organ
- Bruce Langhorne / Mellotron (15)
- George Kahn / saxophone
- Simon House / electric violin (18)
- Dennis Taylor / bass
- Peter Pavli / bass & cello (12-19)
- Drachen Theaker / drums, synth, tabla (12-19), producer (1-11)
- Charles X / drums (18)

Releases information

Recorded during 1969

LP Reckless Records ‎- Reck 2 (1988, UK)

CD Reckless Records ‎- CDRECK 2 (1989, UK) With 8 bonus tracks (1970 LP "Replicas" by Rustic Hinge)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2258 (2011, UK) Remastered by Ben Wiseman with 8 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE ARTHUR BROWN BAND The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown: Strangelands ratings distribution


3.13
(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(9%)
9%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(27%)
27%
Good, but non-essential (32%)
32%
Collectors/fans only (27%)
27%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

THE ARTHUR BROWN BAND The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown: Strangelands reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars This album is supposedly the second album of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (recorded in the late 60's or early 70's but not released befotre 88) and I can tell that indeed this album is crazy and even insane. So insane that this comes across as even wilder than anything Kingdom Come had done also.

So insane that even after a three week stint in my deck getting regular rotation , I cannot seem to even grasp the slightest hint of the eventual concept behind this album. It might have come with liner notes , but this is a Voiceprint release , so I suppose this might have been a bit too much to ask of them. This album is obscure , psychic , weird (but this IS Arthur Brown) and voluntary done so , but unfortunately this is impenetrable for me but also to the few buddies of mine that have heard this. The sound quality is apt , but no miracle is to be expected as this was never released at the time. I suppose that some progheads might appreciate this album butit is likely to please more the space rock fans.

I will give this album a third star on the benefit of the doubt and as a mark of respect for Arthur Brown , but also in the hope that I might one day see better what this album is about.

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars ...and along came Arthur, one of the most extravagant and brilliant musicians of the day. From the bluesy origins of the british boom he took the bold step into territory rarely tread before him. Mad as a hatter, obviously, but equipped with the most focused of minds, visionary and brave he set forth digging out a piece of the musical world that belonged to him and him alone.

The first album was a sort of compromise between blues and progressive rock which turned out really well. I suppose the album made quite an impact with it's theatrical vocals and scary, to be frank, compositions. Yet I cannot feel that the album was anything but a compromise where Brown constrained himself beyond his strength to make an album that would appeal to parts or any of the audience. Why? Simply because the next album he recorded, yet never saw released back then, was a chaotic piece of musical tapestry far beyond any normal mind. The album was in fact abnormal. The only sane thing about it is it's title, Strangelands, which encapsulates everything the album is. Strange and set in a strange land.

To listen to this album you need to be prepared for something beyond complex. There are no songs or epics in the normal sense. What you get is a bunch of musicians painting a canvas of distorted, twisted and deranged motives, with colours able to scare you. Sort of like a horror movie twisting your brain. You will not find structure. Well, that's not completely true. I will explain.

The Arthur Brown band of 1969 is the equivalent of modern day Mayhem, the norwegian black metal band. The reason for this statement is the immaculate ability to walk the ever so thin line between utter chaos and some sense of structure. Buried between the chaos you do find traces of order, proof of the true visions and musical skill possessed by the band, or both bands in this case. That is the scary part, the slight presence of order in a chaotic setting. Sort of like a workplace for orchs, really. Amidst all that chaos and devestation they do manage to build something that's both functional and impressive, given the circumstances.

With all that said, I must bear witness and let my personal feelings fly high, which, all things concerned is the purpose of reviews, and proclaim that this is not particularily enjoyable. I find it intriguing and interesting but not enjoyable. There are no real paths to follow and no real songs to endear me. The only real reward is after the album is over is the feeling of being impressed by how anyone is able to produce something like this. That is impressive but does not transform the music into anything other than noise, albeit with a sugar coating. (Though the coating must have gone off.)

I recommend you, if you like Arthur Brown, to give it a spin or two since it is a sort of progressional phase. "Galactic zoo dossier" was totally different and "Kingdom Come" (my favorite) is a sort of blend between the latter and "Strangelands". Purely an interesting note in the annals of Brown.

Conclusion: I'll give this album two stars, based only only on the fact that it is an impressive piece of work. That's all.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN was a short-lived act that initially only existed from 1967 - 70 but in its early three year tenure Arthur and friends released one of the seminal releases of the late 1960s that not only spawned a multi-national hit with the single "Fire" but was instrumental in ushering in the worlds of progressive rock as well as shock rock that would ignite the 1970s like Brown's famous metal headwear that took rock stage performances to a whole new level. This band was like a massive star that burned bright and then burned out quickly but left behind a legacy and an album that is still revered more than a half century later.

The original team that crafted the band's one and only self-titled release of the era consisted of Arthur Brown himself on vocals known for his outlandish stage charisma, Vincent Crane on Hammond organ and orchestral arrangements, Nicholas Greenwood on bass and Drachen Theaker on drums. The band was literally on "Fire" during 1968 with a hit single that peaked at #7 in the US and #2 in the UK as well as an early progressively minded rock album that contributed in redefining the possibilities of rock music. But all good things come to end, some shorter than other and by 1969 the members had grown restless and the band imploded. Crane would soon start Atomic Rooster while Greenwood would go on to join Steve Hillage in Khan, another band Jonesy as well as recording his own solo album.

The lineup lasted long enough for one classic album and no more yet Arthur Brown himself wanted to continue his CRAZY WORLD so he recruited a long list of guest musicians and set out to record what was suppose to be the second album under THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN moniker. The debut release offered the perfect mix of easy to follow blues rock melodies with pop sensibilities decorated with bizarre avant-garde intros, intermissions and extended passages. When it came to crafting his followup STRANGELANDS, Brown eschewed the easy on the ears pop sensibilities and went for the avant-garde jugular as he steered his musical style far away from the money-making machine that spawned his hit single "Fire." Turned out it wasn't the best move.

Considered to be the logical intermission between Brown's debut and his soon-to-be psychedelic prog band Kingdom Come, STRANGELANDS was recorded in 1969 and very much lived up to its album title however the good folks at the record company were having none of this this bizarre improved musical freakery that took metaphysical abstractness in the lyrics to unthinkable bizarre new realities and a stylistic shift from predict singable songwriting to avant-experimentalism that had more in common with free jazz than anything remotely rock and roll. The album was scrapped and remained in the vaults for almost 20 years after its initial recording in late 1969. The album wouldn't see the light of day until 1988 but has retrospectively been considered a belated prog masterpiece by some and utter dross by many more. In reality the album falls somewhere in between those extremes on the spectrum.

Although Arthur Brown himself was the attention getter with this shock rock stage performances of face paint which would inspire Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson and the entire genre of black metal that would come, on the musical composition side the band's debut was forged by a unique marriage of the disciplined classically trained musical approach of Vincent Crane who crafted music in a logical linear way and the more experimental free range approach of drummer Drachen Theaker. Theaker being the only musician to stay on board to record STRANGELANDS had more influence this time around and his avant-garde weirdness became the dominant force that Brown was more than willing to explore. Greenwood is said to have been the least musical explorative and in many ways kept the other three from getting too weird too fast.

STRANGELANDS retains the tones and timbres of the band's self-titled album of 1968 but instead of focusing on the melodies and pop sensibilities of the debut, this time around Brown expanded all those crazy avant-garde sounds that provided the intros, intermissions and extended freakery. The result was an album that featured a range of instrumental parts that played more independently as if each musician existed in his own world and the individual parts were somehow forged together like a musical chimera on the Isle of Dr Moreau. Rather than lush keyboards supporting a main melodic theme, now the keys went rogue into extreme psychedelic weirdness not unlike some of the trippiest Krautrock to come while the percussion forged by Theaker looked more toward the world of avant-jazz for bizarre otherworldly technical workouts closer to something from avant-percussionist Han Bennink than anything from the up til then rock paradigm.

While this album has the reputation of being complete musical gibberish, that is not the case at all. It may require a few listening sessions to unravel the musical complexities at hand but each musician has been assigned an expanded musical motif that extends beyond the typical for the day "coming together" for a unified musical motif. Operating much like the avant-prog excesses of Henry Cow that would emerge in a few short years, Brown was once again ahead of the pack with his relentless drive to innovate. Unfortunately few were willing to immerse their senses in music this dense and alien to their musical sensibilities however i personally don't really buy that because by 1969 several avant-rock release had emerged including Captain Beefheart's own "Trout Mask Replica" which STRANGELANDS is often compared to due to the fact that Theaker had personally known and played with the great Don Van Vliet, who inspired much of the approach.

Although it's impossible to decipher given the abstractness of this recording, STRANGELANDS is loosely arranged into four parts titled "The Country," "The City," "The Cosmos," and "The Afterlife," most of which feature multiple suites. The album was far more instrumental and the musical motifs took every liberty to escape the confines of any established musical paradigm. With acts like Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention and his pal Captain Beefheart, the avant-garde genie was truly out of the bottle and Brown himself had caught the bug. Ironically the only real connection to the debut other than the tones and timbres of the keyboards is the vocal style of Brown himself albeit this time around he excelled at a more exaggerated histrionic form of operatic theatricality. The album basically plays out as Brown pummeling the senses with philosophical metaphysical concepts while the musicians color the musical palette with improvisational impressions rather than belting out unambiguous bravado.

This is one strange bird right from the opening "Life Jacket" right down to the final cover of the 1950's song "Endless Sleep." Steeped in the excesses of Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" with the musical fortitude of space cadet Sun Ra meets the free floating spirit of The Velvet Underground, STRANGELANDS more than lives up to its album title and is by all means an acquired taste if one can palette such things in any dosage. This album was really cutting edge and ahead of its time in many ways and although scrapped initially has been rediscovered as the album that showcases Brown's true mad genius that would, once tamed a bit, usher in his new stint with Kingdom Come whose three albums have become progressive rock classics in their own right. For those who love the most bizarre and demanding musical expressions to be found, this late 60s oddity is right up your alley.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This album is just too crazy. I doubt the musicians were concious when recording this album. Although it lacks any concept, its first three pieces (Country, City and Cosmos) are all products of the same jam session. I'm sure I've never heard Drachen drumming so good and the organist is playing ... (read more)

Report this review (#864768) | Posted by gietek | Thursday, November 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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