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


The Arthur Brown Band



4.09 | 176 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars An album that blew the doors off the flower power hippy wagon.

The flower power movement flourished in 1968 but Arthur Brown drove a spike through its heart and danced on the grave. This debut is a staggering wall to wall triumph. Arthur Brown's vocals are as hot as the flaming headpiece he wore and as dark as the Pagan black make up around his eyes. I am blown away by the musical virtuosity on this album that ranges from minimalist piano to crazy Hammond staccato stabs ? Vincent Crane, prog legend who became the spirit of Atomic Rooster (eg: Vug) after this, just pounds the hell out of those keys. The drums by Theaker are erratic and spontaneous, deliciously sporadic beyond compare. Nicholas' bass is masterful, especially on 'Come and Buy'. It is a genuine master act with enormous influence, drawing back the curtain to invite the prog chariot in.

I listened to this bizarre treasure ad infinitum as a child in the 70s and it was chilling then and equally chilling now. Nostalgia led me to this album after so many years and I had forgotten how brilliant it is. I had never forgotten certain sections such as "Come and Buy"s haunting melody, 'when you see a fire burning inside your mind's eye', or "God-brother you lie" which always used to scare me. Returning to it now, some 30 years later is a cathartic and almost emotionally draining experience. It all came flooding back to me as if I were back in my bedroom with the blind drawn and the crackling vinyl spinning once again. Brown's vocals are immense and theatrical on every track. The mood swings are as diverse as the time signatures and styles. Let's look at the track list. Forget the mono throwaways and get into the stereo section. It is best to listen to this end to end in stereo. Loud.

"Fanfare - Fire Poem" is an orchestral intro to the whole thing and is a pastoral prelude to the zaniness to come. Suddenly a freakout of Hammond and manic screaming is unleashed and we are on our way to psych prog heaven.

"Fire" is quintessential to early prog and is ferociously original acid soaked psychedelica par excellence. Although this blitzed the pop charts, sitting uncomfortably aside the Beatles "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", it was quirky enough to stand alone and wielded the power to confuse and bedazzle music listeners who had heard nothing else like it in the 60s. 'I am the god of hell fire and I bring you... Fire!' Gene Simmons adored this and Alice Cooper used the makeup, both were clearly influenced, but the pantomime vocal shrills and screams and manic laughing must have made an impact on the likes of shock rockers King Diamond or Marilyn Manson, who has actually sampled this track. ELP and Ozzy Osbourne even played a cover version. Why? It is pure twisted brilliance, well ahead of its time and yet sounding so current today. Crane slams his Hammond down the throats of the passive puerile trash bands of the late 60s and they had no choice but to bow in submission. What an indefinable blast of power this track was and still is.

"Come and Buy" slows things down and Brown's vocals are calm and unnervingly sinister; threatening to break into torturous shrieks, but alarmingly restrained. He focuses lyrically on 'the sun that sweats and burns at midnight, burns you alone' and the theme of fire is constant. The playful childish melody only adds to the ethereal macabre interplay of Gothic grandeur.

"Time/Confusion" is a very slow and a somnambulist piece lulling the listener into a haunted dream. There is a jazz fusion section that erupts and then a narrative voice forces us to wake up and take notice. This is a sleeper track for me, all but forgotten until recently, but is still compelling music.

"I Put a Spell on You" is the darkest version you will hear and I saw this performed live on a TV special on rock history last year drawing me back to this legendary album. Crane's shimmering Hammond organ is relentless and macabre and never better.

"Spontaneous Apple Creation" is impulsive and unstructured, yet absolutely mind blowing psych nonsense that makes less sense than the film 'Mulholland Drive'. Listen to that rhythmic psych rap narration to a contorted 'Psycho' violin: 'When the world was travelling faster and faster and colours became just a blur..and the buildings were falling plaster and plaster and things just weren't what they were'... Then AB breaks into a melodic catchy melody: '... what can save mankind from man when the blind, the blind overran from the scene of confused devestation, came the great spontaneous apple creation...' There you have it and you had to be stoned to understand it. I don't want to even try to explain the rest of this nonsense. It means what it is. But it's experimental and off kilter to the max focusing on the demonic Hammond and some of the spaceyest effects you are likely to hear.

"Rest Cure" is an intriguing cover version of the classic but this is faster and darker with Brown as mesmirising as ever. It remains the weakest track on offer however.

"I Got the Money" is a blast of jazz lunacy, based on various maestros' version, but this is the definitive freak out version; acid prog sung with such conviction but like all AB compositions is structured with the tongue firmly planted in the cheek. It is hilarious at times listening to the ferocity of this band. They played like their lives depended on it. The final track is "Child of my Kingdom" which is simply stunning, from the quirky childish intro to the very calm but foreboding vocals in the verses. The chorus speeds up and is absolutely going to stay with you for days, that melody is catchy to the point of delirium. I can still hear it now. 'I won't be leaving you, leaving you child... but I'll be driving you, driving you wild'. The piano is beautifully executed with virtuoso precision, the time sig changes constantly and draws the listener in. The jazz break down in half swing time is very endearing. I adore this.

"Child of My Kingdom"' is pure prog. Switching to many paces, sigs and including a diverse range of jazz fusion breaks; the track simply motivates along with the coolest riffs and even includes whistling in unison. It ends the album on a high note and sealed the deal for me. I was thinking of giving this 4 stars but after listening to this over and over, it has made such an indelible impression on me I cannot give anything less than the full score. It is THAT good.

Overall, "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" is a 'must-have' piece of prog history. A thematic, bombastic, sporadic and deliciously dark but humorous guilty pleasure. Nothing more needs to be said. Grab this treasure at your nearest opportunity.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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