Saturday, July 10, 2010
Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come - Reissues
The maverick who arrived in the psychedelic scene with his flamboyant theatrical antics of the 1968 hit, Fire, the master of the hellfire returned to Britain after doing an American tour as he became an underground icon in the U.K. that was when he decided to form Kingdom Come in 1970 out of the ashes of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. These three albums were way out there, because when you hear these reissues, you can definitely tell there wasn’t just magic, but a freak-out space adventure that stood against the solar system’s time and for the band’s history.
You can hear tapes going haywire, bizarre lyrics inspired by Robert Calvert, and habitual methods of against the musical mainstream that combine a driven force into something that is unbelievable and magnificent. Part-Space Rock in the mind of Hawkwind, freak-out sessions, part-Progressive Rock concept into the starship enterprise, and at it’s explosive best when it sounds like a car going 80 mph throwing an explosive tornado twist of VCS3’s out of the glove compartment with Brown telling the band to get ready for light speed screaming and shrieking like a madman in the Arkham Asylum. The albums weren’t a commercial success when they first came out in the ‘70s.
Galactic Zoo Dossier, their first album for example, is considered a pioneering landmark album, a mad-scientist experimental taste from his days in the Polydor label. Yet you have the disturbing 6-minute jazz soul ballad turned King Crimson-like Robert Fripp orientation of Sunrise, militant oink drum sounds of the disturbing Night of the Pigs, the Hammond Organ sending an attack call on Gypsy Escape, the acoustic political taste of Trouble as it segues into the a cappella humor of the undead with Brains while it goes into the sinister medley of Galactic Zoo and the spoken-word avant-garde ghostly mass madness of Creep. The tapes going destructive in the studio with Metal Monster, the chugging introduction such as Internal Messenger and the closing piece of the hard rocker, No Time, it shows why Brown was the captain of Enterprise with his theatrical background.
In keeping the chaotic’s to a substantial level, they decided to go twisted again with the follow up on Kingdom Come. He wanted to exercise his spiritual realization that was about to draw him forward, “I was certainly going through a lot of spiritual exercises and disciplines at the time, and you can hear some of this in the songs,” he says in the sleeve notes with an interview of Classic Rock and Metal Hammer magazine writer, Malcolm Dome. This was a huge approach as they were definitely about to embark to give the listener a challenge on what was originally heard on Galactic Zoo Dossier.
Seemingly, the sense of humor came to Brown’s attention in this comedic operatic organ and guitar driven sound mixed with weirdness from the synth in the mind of Frank Zappa on City Melody to the funky psych groove of Traffic Light Song along with the atmosphere opening ballads of Water and Love is a Spirit That will never Die. The bouncy piano quirkiness of The Teacher could have been a part of the rock musical mind of Oscar Wilde as it segues into the 7-minute craziness of The Experiment (featuring “Lower Colonic Irrigation”) as he and the band go through several stages like a musical play gone bizarre in time changes, choir-boy like vocals, a screeching sound probably from the piano strings, a gypsy-guitar Django orientated section that could have been used for the theme for the TV series of Disney’s Zorro as it goes back into the climatic finale of King Crimson as it closes with farts and Brown sounding like Noel Coward to give it that humorous finale. The Whirlpool does not need explanation, although it features a disturbing guitar composition, clocks ticking, and a ghost-like moog solo, it all works very well while the finale of the 8-minute gospel and uplifting weirdness featuring the Mellotron on The Hymn as Arthur gives the listener a service.
Now, you got to admit, he’s not fooling around, but he sings his heart out very well to close the space services with a bang. Little surprise he decides to call it a day with the band as they close their third and final album, Journey in 1973. By now, the band were going far beyond the electronic music storm instead of being big superstars as Brown points out in the sleeve notes, he wanted a technique in the classical analogy format. “We were attempting to do, in rock and electronic terms, the closest that we could get to a string quartet. So the parts for guitar, bass, and keyboards were written with this in mind.”
On Journey, he begins with the Krautrock influential synthesized dreamland sound turned into a sonic nightmare on Time Captives that is a pre-punk prog sound in the mind of CAN meets Iggy & The Stooges meets Amon Duul II. The compositions are very much been open to the band to come up with more of the Space Rock sound with the synth and the guitar doing some magnificent compositions going up and down the scale and making it very 21st century with Triangles while Gypsy and Superficial Roadblocks sounds like a doomed epic soundtrack of the post-apocalyptic world of hell. It sounded like it was recorded in the early ‘80s at times, but damn! Brown and Kingdom Come were not fucking around.
The reminiscent of Brown’s early days in The Crazy World is back at top form with his psych-soul computer mode-like mastermind on Spirit of Joy whilst Brown delights in his Captain Kirk’s chant and screech mode in the spooky bass and moog compositions on Conception as it closes with the heavy blues rockin’ number that could have been written in the 22nd century, Come Alive. It’s Brown becoming a Heavy Metal god, as the guitar goes metallic and bluesy while the synth’s setting the scenery of this closing number. Journey is alongside Galactic Zoo Dossier, one of Kingdom Come’s most unsung works.
All of the three albums come with bonus tracks. From alternative versions of the tracks, A and B sides of the singles, and a BBC Session for the late John Peel who considers Brown’s Kingdom Come on September 5, 1972, “It’s spontaneous and very colorful, but hardly critical.” They were loved or loathed of a great English Science-Fiction band that called it a day after Journey was released and was damned by the sales and critics alike. These unheard gems of the golden-era of the Progressive Rock days, might be hard for listeners to listen to, but they deserve a second chance and hugely a lot you can hardly imagine.