THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN

Non-Metal / Proto-Metal • United Kingdom
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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown were an English psychedelic rock band formed by singer Arthur Brown in 1967. They had a major hit in 1968 with the song "Fire" and broke up in 1969.

While more psychedelic than heavy, their music was characterized by the same darkness that would become trademark of many metal acts, and their stage shows were outlandish and macabre and - along with a number of other shock rock acts - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown helped pave the way in terms of visual performance and general imagery for many following heavy metal acts. It is in recognition of this fact that The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is included in the MMA.
Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and adg211288 for the updates

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Gypsy VoodooGypsy Voodoo
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Strangelands (Orange With Blue, Pink And Purple Spatter Vinyl)Strangelands (Orange With Blue, Pink And Purple Spatter Vinyl)
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The Crazy World Of Arthur BrownThe Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
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THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN The Crazy World of Arthur Brown album cover 4.62 | 4 ratings
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Proto-Metal 1969
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Strangelands
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Trantric Lover
Non-Metal 2002
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THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN Gypsy Voodoo album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
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.. Album Cover
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Fire / Rest Cure
Proto-Metal 1968

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THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN Reviews

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN Gypsy Voodoo

Album · 2019 · Non-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
So very very much has changed in the 51 years since Arthur Wilton Brown better known as the flamboyant theatrical rock singer with a wide-range operatic vocal style in THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BORWN hit the Billboard chart's #2 spot with a freak hit single in the form of "Fire." Forever known in the pop world as a one hit wonder for his 1968 near chart topper, BROWN has existed as a much more inventive character in the underground and one who was innovative not only in his proto-prog rock musical compositions that graced the 1968 debut album THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN but also supplied an ample supply of shock rock values that would be adopted by the future world of heavy metal with not only his outlandish stage performances that found his metal headpiece spewing out flames but also with his unique approach of belting out an aggressive multi-octave lyrical delivery.

Despite a rather prolific solo career which included several solo albums as well as a few by THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN, Mr. Brown has never topped his debut performance that managed to outstage even the wildest characters of the tumultuous 60s but come 50 years later, this dude is still cranking out the music! And now in 2019, only two days after his 77th birthday, he who is also known as The God of Hellfire has released a new worthy edition to his canon in the form of GYPSY VOODOO which is the culmination of a career's worth of ideas all woven together with a new version of THE CRAZY WORLD band which includes a total of ten different musicians and vocalists. No members from the original rendition of the band are on board here, no Vincent Crane, no Nick Greenwood, no Drachen Theaker. This is a modern day ensemble and after all this is the ARTHUR BROWN hour so who cares about all those others!

While the decades have gone by and musical styles have changed, BROWN seems to exist in his own world where time stands still. GYPSY VOODOO sounds very much like the pioneer of Theatre Shock Rock with the groovy funky vibes of his glory years along with the blues based hard rock that made his 60s and 70s run so addictively fun! With ten diverse tracks GYPSY VOODOO finds BROWN in good spirit and although his vocals haven't navigated the oceans of time completely in tact, they still don't sound too bad for the most part with only some of his attempts to hit the higher range sounding a little raggedy. However on spoken word segments such as on "Fire Poem," he sounds exactly as he once did. With a refusal to join the new sounds of the 21st century it also sounds like BROWN conjured up a new batch of tracks right after his zany revered debut over a half of a century ago when comic books were a mere 10¢!

OK, so what can one expect from a character like ARTHUR BROWN so many years after his peak years that go back so very very far? Well, pretty much more of the same. GYPSY VOODOO is very much a tribute to himself and even includes a remake of the "Fire Poem" / "Fire" tracks that made him famous in the first place but not exactly to the same effect. The good news is that if you totally dig the melodic blues rock based songs that BROWN has always dished out then you are in for a treat. This album is chock full of brand spanking new tracks that sound as if they were created long ago and only now resurrected with the miracles of modern day technology to make them sound squeaky clean and free of the analog technology's limitations and while the remake of "Fire" doesn't exactly blow the original away, it is by no means a terrible exploit of his primo material either.

VOODOO GYPSY is a mixed bag for me. One the one hand, every single track here is a worthy addition to THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN but on the other hand, there's a sense of been there / done that and the album is dripping with nostalgia albeit in a good way. ARTHUR BROWN clearly found his voice long ago and has hardly deviated from it since and has not been tempted in the least to add modern day musical influences to his tapestry of spoken word, blues rock, electronics and psychedelia. Don't expect any metal, hip hop or Beyonce making a cameo. This is ARTHUR BROWN as the God of Hellfire has always been and much the better for it however i do wish that there was some sort of upgrade to the ARTHUR BROWN sound that would connect it to the present. While in no way bad, this album doesn't exactly blow me away either. Definitely recommended for those who crave retro 60s sounds with the benefits of modern day production but if you are expecting a totally new musical paradigm from Mr BROWN then you will be woefully disappointed.

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Arthur Wilton Brown may not be a household name compared to the likes of other 60s pioneers such as The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix or even Led Zeppelin, but has probably had just as much influence on countless other artists who followed in his footsteps after he set the world on "Fire" (as well as his head) with his pioneering proto-prog, proto-shock rock and proto-metal wizardry that he conjured up with his very first artistic expressions in THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN. This was the band name as well as the name of the self-titled debut which remained the band's only album until a reunion would find new life starting with 2000's "Tantric Lover" (excluding the archival release "Strangelands" in 1988). The rest of his output was released under his own name with some guests appearing on the bill along the way. While musically paving the way for many more to follow, this charismatic shock jock of horror is more remembered for his live eccentricities that earned them the title as one of the most shocking performers of the psychedelic rock scene.

While starting out somewhat normal growing up in Whitby, England and studying philosophy and law in Leeds later in life, the 60s offered BROWN the chance to nurture his wild side as he became one of the most outlandish and flamboyant figures to have emerged from the psychedelic rock era which included his famous head dressing that he would ignite and perform fully aflame during his live performances. This outrageous behavior is what got him noticed and still remembered some half century later, but during the day it also got him in a lot of trouble with self-inflicted injuries, property damage run amok, apocalyptic shocking material and to top it off was booted off the Jimi Hendrix tour for his reckless shenanigans. Not content to simply light his head on fire, he would also strip naked and let it all hang out so to speak, a feat that got him arrested in Italy and banned from even setting foot on stage in other parts of the world. THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN seemed like the perfect descriptive moniker for this unhinged lunatic.

All of these wild man antics naturally caught the attention of record companies as well and BROWN signed on to Pye Records where he and bandmates Vincent Crane (Hammond organ, piano), Drachen Theaker (drums) and Nick Greenwood (bass) would record and release their one and only self-titled album in 1968. The album received a bit of a boost due to The Who's manage Kit Lambert sitting in as producer with Pete Townsend on associate production. The album was a surprise hit on both sides of the Atlantic when the first single "Fire" catapulted to the #1 spot in the UK and shot all the way up to the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 not to mention significant success all over the planet. The album musically was based in the catchy pop hook laden psychedelic rock of the era with an energized with a groovy bass line, bombastic organ soloing and BROWN's four octave vocal range including an over the top falsetto that would give birth to the heavy metal style of Rob Halford in Judas Priest, King Diamond in Mercyful Fate and Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

Stylistically THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN album was laid out like a rock opera which included a more commercial side one followed by a slightly more experimental side two. The album was basically built around the concept of the first single "Fire" laid out in poetic prose and ambitious musical delivery, although the full rock opera effect was truncated and tamed due to the technological limitations of the day, the band more than made up for this lack of album ambitiousness with their lavish live settings where BROWN engaged in numerous costume changes and donned his famous face paint appearance that would also prove influential with artists such as Alice Cooper, Kiss, King Diamond and the entire black metal world that would essentially adapt the entire BROWN playbook and adapt it to the modern day. The album, while not a fully fledged opera, nevertheless provided a prototype of progressive rock hot on the heels of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's" album and remains one of the key pivotal albums in ratcheting the rock paradigm into more sophisticated levels of musical mastery.

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN album is flawless in how it creates the perfect atmosphere with the keyboard rich opener "Prelude / Nightmare" which finds a dreamy flute being replaced by a groovy bass driven rock beat and heavy organs offering a spooky overtone to the classical virtuosity that Crane dishes out. For the most part BROWN sounds a lot like Frank Zappa in vocal tone but had the ability to drop to extremely low bass notes and then whizz up the scales to hit high falsettos and blood curdling screams. He had the perfect intuitive drive of how to alternate singing, narration or just knowing when to just scream his ass off. There are even moments that sound like Robert Plant well before Led Zeppelin was even in its infancy. Some tracks are connected with orchestrations with some such as "Fanfare / Fire Poem" creating a tension building interlude that connects the opener to the powerhouse single "Fire" a track so catchy and built on unexpected changes that an unsuspecting public was defenseless against its persuasive charm. The album was primarily written by BROWN and Crane but includes two covers in the form of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" and James Brown's (no relation!) "I've Got Money."

The intensity of this CRAZY WORLD period was too much to sustain and like a super nova star simply exhausted its fuel supply not too long after getting started. Due to all kinds of mishaps and creative differences, the band completely fell apart during the tour. Firstly, Theaker was morbidly frightened of airplanes and could not tour. He was replaced by Chris Farlowe and then Carl Palmer but everything else turned south very quickly and the band called it quits. But like a super nova that explodes, it created the star seedlings to spawn new life elsewhere. After disbanding, Carl Palmer would join Vincent Crane to form Atomic Rooster, Theaker would join Love and then Rustic Hinge while Nick Greenwood would join up with Steve Hillage to form Khan. BROWN himself would create Kingdom Come as well as pump out a few solo albums during the 70s. The influence of this one shot band though would extend to the present day in the trifurcated tree that extends into progressive rock, shock / glam rock and heavy metal. No small feat for a short lived but over the top act that was only in operation for a mere few years. The band is legendary but the album is a mesmerizing as the tracks offer many moods, tempos and dynamics to keep it enthralling throughout its entire listening time that offer a mature mix of psychedelic rock, R&B and pop with classical touches.

While perhaps the overall sound is dated as it could never be mistaken for anything other than the time period it was created with it's somewhat cliche organ sounds, psychedelic rock constructs and album layout, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN does exactly what it is supposed to and takes the listener back to the year 1968 and delivers a collection of ten tracks that still sound as interesting as they must've back then. While rooted in the psychedelic rock sound of the era, this album implements interesting creativity in the nooks and crannies that must've driven the record company CRAZY! If BROWN hadn't been constricted by external forces this album may have been far more progressive, far more outlandish and the CRAZY turned up several notches, but even as it stands, this is a brilliant display of the late 60s underground scene that just happened to spawn a surprising top 10 hit around the world. The 2010 remaster is well worth the price of admission with a bonus CD that includes the B-sides of the singles as well as demos, mono mixes and a few extras. Even today, 50 years later after its release, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN sounds fairly unique with BROWN's eccentric vocals standing out. This is a true classic.

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