Archive for the ‘The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown’ Category


Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Mechanical World / Spirit

Listen: Mechanical World / Spirit
Mechanical World / Spirit

Luckily, despite the revolution in stereophonic sound that was going hand in hand with the album format of 1968, most singles were still issued in mono. Such was the case for Spirit’s first release, on both the promo (listen above) and stock copies. ‘Mechanical World’ epitomized the dark side of the LSD generation, and defined late night radio. I always had fantasies of this and many tracks by The Doors being the soundtrack to driving through a pitch dark desert in the early hours. God knows why, I’d never even been to a desert. There wasn’t one near Syracuse although I certainly felt like I was growing up somewhere equally deserted, hence the possible connection in my brain.

I loved Spirit from the get go. They didn’t sound English which was a strict requirement, but thankfully they didn’t sound Americana either. Plus they looked good. LA bands tended to.

Spirit / I Got A Line On You

Listen: I Got A Line On You / Spirit
I Got A Line On You / Spirit

Somehow rather quickly, Spirit had a hit with their second 45, ‘I Got A Line On You’. It was welcomed. Their albums were great and hearing them on Top 40 radio made us all feel liberated. Things were pretty good on the airwaves. The Who and The Cream were getting some play, as were Big Brother & The Holding Company, Iron Butterfly and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. I was rather content.

Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

Listen: Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit
Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

‘Dark Eyed Woman’ was the lead track and first single from the difficult 3rd album CLEAR. Difficult (as a second album is known to be these days) because they’d had a hit despite the ‘album band’ and ‘live band’ habitat from which they came. Top 40 was developing it’s evil lack of loyalty way back then, and ‘Dark Eyed Woman’ didn’t get much play. But FM radio, much like today’s Sirius satellite stations, made up for it. Touring in support of it’s release, I finally got to see the band live. Despite how fantastic they were, and believe me, fantastic is putting it mildly, I was reeling from the support act that night (October 19, 1969): The Kinks.

It was The Kinks first US tour after the three year musician’s union ban. They had just released ARTHUR, much of which they played along with tracks from THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Death Of A Clown’ and ‘Til The End Of The Day’, their opening song. Jawdropping. I walked out of the venue never to be the same again.

I digressed, sorry.

1984 / Spirit

Listen: 1984 / Spirit
1984 / Spirit

Spirit released ’1984′, a non LP single, next. This was not a common move in the day. Still, it’s forever attached to Spirit’s CLEAR era, being of same time period. Actually, ’1984′ only ever appeared on LP once BEST OF SPIRIT was issued years later. The year 1984 seemed an eternity away on release and the record contributed to a political and ecological slant the band had taken from inception. Remember ‘Fresh Garbage’ from that first album?

Animal Zoo / Spirit

Listen: Animal Zoo / Spirit
Animal Zoo / Spirit

Many rightfully consider the original lineup’s fourth and final album, THE TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS, to be their art rock pinnacle. At least I read something to that effect recently. The two singles released from it are seminal. In fact the first, ‘Animal Zoo’, came out seemingly months prior to the album. I swiped it from a local album rock station whose late night dj occasionally let me visit. I honestly don’t remember their call letters, and he was a rather unpleasant know-it-all. I once recall him adamantly arguing with me about Humble Pie, claiming all their members, instead of just one, were from The Small Faces (wrong) and that none were from The Herd or Spooky Tooth (wrong), which I desperately tried to point out as incorrect for his benefit. He wasn’t having it, his loss. Nonetheless, I would tolerate him to get the records.

Mr. Skin / Spirit USA

Listen: Mr. Skin / Spirit
Mr. Skin / Spirit

This became mine one summer night’s visit a month or so later, along with the Juicy Lucy, Sea Train and Vivian Stanshall singles.

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Listen: Devil’s Grip / The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Devil's Grip / The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

If you’ve been reading these posts during the last few days, it’s obvious the July 4th weekend leaned prog rock. Our excursion into the depths of upstate New York had me driving randomly through small towns in search of the ultimate garage sale. Look and you shall find, or something like that. We stumbled on two with massive amounts of prog vinyl, about one hundred miles apart. Very unexpected and a bit baffling. At $1 each, it was hard to pass up stacks of valuables that included various Vertigo swirls and Harvest titles.

Forget all the lengthy album tracks that littered prog long players, even more bizarre are the 45′s from the genre, all attempting to make playable versions of non-songs into songs. Fun stuff.

The mid 60′s mod organ style, hugely influenced by both Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff, was still evident on ‘Devil’s Grip’, the ’67 debut single from The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. The record tipped toward it’s followup, ‘Fire’, which despite it’s shrill sonic onslaught, became a massive worldwide hit in summer ’68.

Turns out Vincent Crane’s Hammond shaped the band as much as Arthur Brown’s voice and theatrics. Their sole album is a struggle to listen to often, if ever, these days. The sleeve was great, and live, the band were a blast, but being perfectly honest meant everyone I knew regretted having laid out the cash to buy it.

‘Devil’s Grip’ may not be the greatest song, but at times, the non-LP track swings more than any other on the album.

Listen: Give Him A Flower / The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Give Him A Flower / The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Way more importantly, B side ‘Give Him A Flower’ is a gem. Borrowing from vaudeville and I’m guessing, coincidentally from The Bonzo Dog Band, the track may be their one and only example of getting a little loose in the pub before heading to the studio, sense of humor in tact.

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.

Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Listen: She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man / Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages ScreamingLordMonster.mp3

I finally got around to reading the Screaming Lord Sutch feature in the June issue of MOJO. Try to do the same, maybe it’s even online. A few priceless pictures and so many stunning details, I really don’t know where to start. He was everything I already knew and way more as well. Some of the live show descriptions and antics, well we now know where Alice Cooper got more than one idea. Don’t blame him for lifting a few, they’re just too good to waste. Okay, here’s a tiny bit: “cherry food dye, cold scrambled eggs with a few masticated inches of seaside rock and it’ll look like you’re spitting out teeth”.

No question about it, his recordings were made very inexpensively, several produced by Joe Meek, complete with dreadful sound effects – and I mean that in a good way. As the ’70′s arrived, more than one act paid respects. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, The Damned and The Revillos even covered and released as their A side as well, ‘She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man’. You’d think the song was written just for them listening to the original above.

Listen: Dracula’s Daughter / Screaming Lord Sutch ScreamingLordDracula'sDaughter.mp3

So many soon to be name musicians passed through the ranks of being Savages in the ’61 – ’63 period, prior to their own later successes. The list, also in the article, is long and fairly jaw dropping. Jimmy Page plays lead on ‘She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man’, and Jeff Beck on ‘Dracula’s Daughter’. Even then, in ’64, his style was recognizable and it’s easy to see how much he moulded The Yardbirds’ sound from one listen.

The usually precise MOJO does flub one detail. ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ was not his last for Decca, it was his first for Oriole after being dropped by Decca. While I’m at it, the above Cameo Parkway 7″ is the only US release from his period with The Savages.

The Heartbreakers

Monday, February 8th, 2010

HeartbreakersBornPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: Born To Lose / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersBorn.mp3

The Heartbreakers were in London, playing The Marquee around the last week or so of March ’77. It was luckily during a fortnight visit, seeing a band every night type trip, right at the height of punk. The Roxy was in it’s brief existence and having missed them there in order to see The Damned and Johnny Moped at the LSE, I was anxious to get in early. It’s funny when you go 3,000 miles to see a band that’s from your own backyard. They were both everything New York yet perfectly invented for England too. Recalling the show that night still gives me the shakes.

HeartbreakerOneTrackPS, The Heartbreakers, Walter Lure, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, Track,

Listen: One Track Mind / The Heartbreakers HeartbreakersOneTrack.mp3

To prove the point about England, they signed to a reactivated (I think just for them) Track Records. Seemingly dormant since the very early 70′s, suddenly Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were dug up and cleaned off – good as new.

In ’67, when the label began, those two must have been a real threat with both The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Who on a roster that overnight put Track in the uh-oh we’re all in trouble now league. Thunderclap Newman and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown didn’t help, while Marsha Hunt, John’s Children, The Eire Apparent and Cherry Smash made stubbornly difficult to find, must-have flops.

‘One Track Mind’, The Heartbreakers second single, had me thinking they could take over the world. My crystal ball obviously needed new batteries. But the guitar tones of Johnny Thunders and especially Walter Lure were a wall of sloppy sound live and for a brief moment I couldn’t get enough.

Walter played for years on The Ramones albums. His signature sound is a giveaway on TOO TOUGH TO DIE, and a perfect foil to Johnny’s.