Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

"I am the God of Hell-Fire!!!"
And so says the Godfather of Art-Rock, the Chancellor of Freak-Rock, the Minotaur of Goth-Punk. Arthur Brown's performances were a dangerous spectacle; armed with lighter-fluid induced fire and creepy druid-like costumes. His vocal style would range from the Wicked Witch of the West to the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. He sang songs about God, the Devil and, of course, Fire. 

Predating Alice Cooper with his make-up and face-paint by a few years, Arthur Brown hit the British underground music-scene in 1967. He was known for wild performances that would sometimes spin out of control. One such instance was in late '67 when he wore a colander on his head soaked in methanol, lighting it on fire. This of course wound up accidentally lighting his whole head on fire, but the singer was saved by audience members dousing him with their beers. After this incident he designed a safer, metal crown that would keep the flames further away from his hair.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown released their only album in 1968, produced by Pete Townshend of The Who. One of the songs, "Fire", became a hit in the UK (not to be confused with Jimi Hendrix's song of the same name). Check it out below.

Kinda crazy this song became a hit in the '60's. Pretty bad-ass and weird. Arthur Brown was a true iconoclast, and spoke out against religious dogma and conventional society. The song basically states that it doesn't ultimately matter what material possessions we collect over the course of our lives since we're all going to die anyway. Almost a nihilistic view-point. The opening spoken-verse in the song was sampled by Prodigy in the early '90's and was played at all the clubs and raves at the time. For years I never knew of the song that the line was attributed to until it came up one day on college radio. I remember thinking, "Oh! so that's where that comes from."

See 2 more movie samples below. The 1st one is from a really weird party; the type that people apparently threw all the time in 1960's England. The 2nd includes a humorous interview with Arthur Brown. I love when the interviewer asks if he's the God or the Devil, and after some rambling against the church, he simply states, "I see myself as Arthur Brown."