THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown Cherry red Still Crazy after all these years – although a little cooled off.
Fifty years ago, as rioting radicals torched the capital cities of Europe, Fire swept to the top of the charts. An unintended anthem of destruction, it caught the mood of desire to burn the old order. Its creators, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, were leaders of the underground scene at UFO happenings with Pink Floyd, Mick Farren & The Deviants and Soft Machine. As evidenced by their debut album, now re-released in a deluxe, three-CD package, the group were more artistic and adventurous than most.
Despite the success of Fire, the Crazies’ recorded output was comparatively slight. This box set is something of a ‘same meat, different gravy’ event, and has the original album on CD and LP, in stereo and mono mixes, with new artwork and an essay.
The first few songs on CD one comprise the Fire suite. Brown’s impressively terrifying operatic shrieks are intensified by the scorching keyboard of Vincent Crane. The rest is a hotchpotch that often entertains but seldom gels as a complete work. Highlights are the spinetingling, magisterial blues wailing of I Put A Spell On You and the quirky Spontaneous Apple Creation, a sonic windfall from Syd Barrett. A squawking rendition of James Brown’s I’ve Got Money owes more to Captain Beefheart than the Grandmaster of Funk.
Richer pickings can be found on CD three’s newly unearthed BBC sessions, plus a clutch of pre-Track recordings. Baby You Know What You’re Doing is a Geno Washington-style stomper, but the pick of the bunch is Don’t Tell Me, a garage classic with fuzz guitar that hits the spot. For added authenticity, dig the daddio introductions by presenter Brian Matthew: “For all you cool customers tuned our way.”
Also here are both sides of 1967 single Devil’s Grip/Give Him A Flower. The latter, meant as a droll retort to the beautiful people, ended up as a singalong crowd favourite. Once again, the God of Hellfire’s tongue-in-cheek spirit seemed lost on the audience.