Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1969)

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. This fire and brimstone psychedelic gem is a kaleidoscope of fire-centric imagery, demented howling from Brown and really great Hammond organ from Vincent Crane, who would later found his own band, Atomic Rooster. Miraculously, this album actually produced a #2 hit in England with the single "Fire."

The first half of the original vinyl iis dedicated to a nightmarish suite on the subject of Hell. Seriously wild stuff. Brown is the real deal, and was one of the first rock musicians to really incorporate performance art into his shows. He would dress up in crazy costumes, hold mock crucifixions, and generally act like a madman, anticipating Alice Cooper and his legions of imitators. It also helps that he posseses a voice unrivaled in both power and intensity.

Unffortunately, on the second half of the record the concept, as well as the songwriting falls apart. With the exception of a truly phenominal cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell on You," the remaining music is mostly lightweight silliness.

Despite its weaknesses as a whole, the first half of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is so strong that I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone, except perhaps those with mental problems, as this is certain only to aggravate them.

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