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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

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Some may recall Arthur Brown's Sixties hit tune, "Fire", that earned respectability for psychedelic pop on the charts. Others may remember him for his solid progrock masterpieces during the Seventies like the "Journey" album. While others may recognize him for his vocal contributions to Klaus Schulze's classic "Dune" album in 1979.

Well, surprise--the maestro is still with us and his latest release is suitably worthy of high attention.

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THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN: Vampire Suite (double CD on Track Records)

This release from 2003 offers 54 minutes of modern rock, while the second disc features 51 minutes of verbal fiction.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is: Arthur Brown, Mark Brzezicki, and Josh Phillips. Additional guests are: Richard Studholme, Roger Manning, Dave Williamson, James Heyto, Steve Roux, Nick Pentelow, Pete Thoms, and Sid Gauld.

A solid horn section augments a traditional rock ensemble: searing guitar, rumbling bass, durable drumming, and partytime keyboards. Passages of cafe piano lend a sedate romantic flair to the tunes, while sinuous electronics balance the music with futuristic embellishment.

The core of power revolves around Brown's masterful vocals. His voice can be sultry and seductive one minute, only to soar to stratospheric heights the next, trembling the soul and scraping the ceiling of heaven. His soulful crooning delves past the audience's eardrums, burrowing deep into the heart to churn with evocative vigor and generate emotional responses of monumental scope.

The compositions are suitably complex while retaining the fundamental structure of most classic rock'n'roll. Elements of jazz cook in the lively mix, along with pop hooks and tribal African rhythms and spooky moods steeped in a nightclub demeanor.

The concept behind this music is simple: examining the lifestyle and pursuits of bloodsucking vampires in the modern world. Their behavior is not always dark and murderous, as Brown explores the deeper emotional ruminations of these creatures of the night. Their struggle to fit into the civilized world is as gripping as that of the average citizen. They are troubled by global politics just like you. They suffer lost loves and economic setbacks and cultural disappointments too.

The bonus disc features Brown doing a gripping reading of the tale told by the music. While following the gist of the tunes, this prose explores more visceral aspects of vampiric life. The short novel is well written, and Brown's commanding voice delivers an engaging reading of the tasty material.

You can investigate the rest of Brown's career at his website.

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