Chances are that if you’ve heard the name Arthur Brown before, pills it’s been in conjunction with his fantastic debut LP, the self-titled effort from his band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, an ambitious psychedelic affair featuring Brown’s signature one-of-a-kind- signature four-octave-ranged shriek-singing. Most known for the single “Fire”, which reached #1 in the UK in 1968, the man can actually lay claim to an impressive discography, which the majority of rock fans have likely never heard, but should.
Brown (who stills performs today with many different bands, including the latest incarnations of Hawkwind) was always known as a wild, unpredictable force onstage. Wikipedia sez:
“Brown’s incendiary stage act sometimes caused trouble, such as getting him kicked off a tour with Jimi Hendrix. (The irony abounded; Hendrix had, after all, finished his legendary set at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival by setting his guitar afire.) On one tour, Brown waited until sunset when his band was playing, and then he had a winch lower him onto the middle of the stage from above, wearing a suit and helmet welded from sheet metal. Parts of the suit were completely alit in lighter fluid and sparklers. In due course, Brown created a perception that he was always on the verge of setting fire to the stage, leading some concert organizers to demand he post a bond with them if he could not show he was adequately insured against uncontrollable fire and fire damages.”
TCWOAB managed to get in a second album before their dissolution in ’69, but this remained unreleased for twenty years, until the late ’80s. “Strangelands” is an even more out-there affair than the band’s self-titled disc, full of echoey twists and turns, along with plenty of beautiflu caterwauling from Brown. After the band broke up, Brown went on to front Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, an outfit that matched TCW’s psych intensity, but in a more prog context. They recorded several albums over the course of the early ’70s, the best of which was compiled on “The Lost Ears”, a 2xLP that emerged in ’76. Again, Wikipedia sez:
“Kingdom Come albums featured a wild mix of progressive rock and demented theatrics, including Brown’s simulated crucifixion. Kingdom Come often performed in full costume with makeup, and photos of Brown from this period clearly show him sporting a distinctive eye makeup scheme that Alice Cooper later borrowed. The third and final Kingdom Come album, ‘Journey’, is noteworthy for being one of the first (if not the first) rock albums to feature a drum machine.”
And, ProgArchives.com sez:
“All three ARTHUR BROWN’S KINGDOM COME albums are a kind of collision between psychedelia and new wave, bearing a space-rock and typical ZAPPA-esque tomfoolery. They feature Brown’s incredible vocals (that can range from Tom Jones’ croonery to sheer maniacal screams). Somewhat like a bridge between the psychedelic and early progressive eras, their first album “Galactic Zoo Dossier” impresses with its aggressive guitar play and wild, killer organ. Simply called ‘Kingdom Come’, the band’s second effort is a bit more disjointed, lacking the punch and energy of the first. With ‘Journey’, we have the band’s most accomplished work, featuring new musicians, plenty of mellotron and synths â€“ a highly entertaining space prog rock album altogether.”
I originally thought that the download I had of “The Lost Ears” was the complete thing, although it seems that I only have one-half of it to offer. Still, it’s a great glimpse into the band’s sound. Highly recommended is the Hawkwind-esque track “Time Captives.”