The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown Cherry red Still Crazy af­ter all these years – al­though a lit­tle cooled off.

Prog - - Intro -

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.

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