psychedelic rock album by Arthur Brown and his band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, produced by the Who's manager Kit Lambert with associate production by Pete Townshend. The album was released in June 1968 on Lambert's Track Records label in the UK, with North American distribution handled by Atlantic Records. The album was released in the US in September. (Early North American copies of the album, while distributed by Atlantic, bore the Track Records imprint; later pressings were released on the Atlantic label proper.)
The album peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. The album's first single, "Fire," was a global success, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in North America in October 1968, No. 1 in the UK in August 1968, and No. 19 in Australia in October 1968.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown are an English psychedelic rock band formed by singer Arthur Brown in 1967. The band included Vincent Crane (Hammond organ and piano), Drachen Theaker (drums), and Nick Greenwood (bass).
Their song "Fire" (released in 1968 as a single) was one of the one-hit wonders in the United Kingdom and United States in the 1960s. "Fire" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Brown quickly earned a reputation for both his powerful voice which
spanned four octaves and his outlandish performances, including the use
of a burning metal helmet, which led to occasional mishaps. During an
early appearance at the Windsor Festival in 1967, Brown wore a colander
on his head soaked in methanol. The fuel poured over his head by
accident and caught fire; two bystanders doused the flames by pouring
beer on Brown’s head, preventing any serious injury.
The flaming head then became an Arthur Brown signature. On occasion he
also stripped naked while performing, most notably in Italy, where,
after setting his hair on fire, he was arrested and deported. He was also notable for the extreme make-up he wore onstage, which would later be reflected in the stage acts of Alice Cooper, Kiss, Mercyful Fate's King Diamond and Marilyn Manson..
By 1968, the debut album, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Produced by The Who's manager Kit Lambert, and executive-produced by Pete Townshend on Track Records, the label begun by Lambert and Chris Stamp, it spun off an equally surprising hit single, "Fire", and contained a version of "I Put a Spell on You" by Screaming Jay Hawkins, a similarly bizarre showman. "Fire" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song has since seen its opening line "I am the God of Hellfire" sampled in numerous other places, most notably in The Prodigy's 1992 rave anthem "Fire".
Brown's incendiary stage act sometimes caused trouble, even getting him kicked off a tour with Jimi Hendrix.
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 lit 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.
Before Arthur Brown there was little with which to compare his
music...and his act! He was one of the first to really understand the
theatricality of Rock n Roll, and a grand showman he became. From him
flow Bowie, Cooper, Iggy and so many others. Before him there may have
been Screaming Lord Sutch's "I Put A Spell On You" but Arthur's was even
better...and more exciting. If Chris and Bruce read this they will
remember and agree, as will anyone who saw him live.
This album was
the begining of an era and a style, and although the Who had already
dabbled with the rock opera format in "A Quick One While He's Away" the
first side of this album was presented live as if it were a non-stop
operatic piece and was mesmerizing. Close your eyes and imagine.
and just for the record, that is NOT Carl Palmer's drumming on the
album, it is Drachian Thacker who was too scared of planes to make the
tour wherein Carl Palmer was hired to play on the tour and then stayed
with the band and accompanied Vincent Crane into Atomic Rooster.
There are 3 things that make this album exceptional. The first is AB's
singing voice: for those who have heard him it's obvious that he has a
gift which few can equal. The second: the theme of the 1st half of the
cd: a personal spiritual struggle of great tension. The third: Vincent
Crane's fantastic Organ work & Carl Palmer's drumming. No guitar
here, yet remarkably moving music that fits both the theme & ABs
voice. "Fire" was/is a huge hit single, but the first 6 tunes are all
great. Try Fire Poem or Come & Buy. AB is a very creative, ORIGINAL,
& different artist. I say "buy"!
You don't hear this stuff on the oldies stations. This album is
idiosyncratic and powerful. If you would like to hear what the cultural
explosion of the late sixies was all about check this out. Mr. Brown's
version of "I Put a Spell onYou" is operatic and deliciously demented.
More than collection of songs the album is thematic-what was then called
a concept album. He knew what he was doing. I liked it back then
because, as Frank Zappa might say, it had virtually no teen appeal.
Today, I realize he was on to something. Amaze your friends. Frighten
Though a bit over the top, this album was still powerful and
surprisingly melodic, and managed to be quite bluesy and soulful even as
the band overhauled chestnuts by James Brown and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. "Spontaneous Apple Creation" is a willfully histrionic, atonal song that gives Captain Beefheart
a run for his money. Though this one-shot was not (and perhaps could
not ever be) repeated, it remains an exhilaratingly reckless slice of
psychedelia. This CD reissue includes both mono and stereo versions of
five of the songs. Although the mono mixes lack the full-bodied power of
the stereo ones, they're marked by some interesting differences,
especially in the brief spoken and instrumental links between tracks.
1. Prelude - Nightmare (Mono Version)
2. Fanfare - Fire Poem (Mono Version)
3. Fire (Mono Version)
4. Come And Buy (Mono Version)
5. Time/Confusion (Mono Version)
6. Prelude - Nightmare
7. Fanfare - Fire Poem
9. Come And Buy
11. I Put A Spell On You
12. Spontaneous Apple Creation
13. Rest Cure
14. I've Got Money
15. Child Of My Kingdom
Arthur Brown (vocals);
Vincent Crane (keyboards);
Drachen Theaker (drums)
Nick Greenwood (bass).