22 August 2021 (released)
22 August 2021
If there were any justice in music Arthur Brown would be lauded as one of the most creative and talented of his generation. The man who has a voice that could grace the operatic stage and a sense of theatrics that takes ‘Rock music’ into another realm.
This box set consists of the three albums that Kingdom Come made for Polydor – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown had originally been signed to Polydor and had worldwide success with ‘Fire’ – ‘Galactic Zoo Dossier’, ‘Kingdom Come’ & ‘Journey’ as well as the original ham sessions that led to the formation of the band and a series of sessions for the BBC including John Peel and Top Gear. All remastered to Esoteric’s usual standards and with plenty of bonus tracks, a sumptuous booklet, all the original sleeves and poster.
The first album, ‘Galactic Zoo Dossier’, is a ‘concept’ album of sorts and, frankly, the sound is incredible. I remembered it as having very little bass but the remastering has brought out Desmond Fisher’s lines through and they underline so much of what is happening. Brown’s vocals are awesome, ranging from his baritone through to a strangulated screech that somehow remains musical. Mike Harris’s organ and Julian Paul Brown’s VCS (an early synthesiser) give texture to the music while Andy Dalby delivers some stirring lead guitar passages. It all hangs together pretty well with the linking segments having a peculiarly ‘English’ feel. It is dark and austere and sadly didn’t sell in great numbers but at fifty years distance you really can see the worth in it and appreciate it as a real work of art. It does feel like a natural follow up to ‘Fire’, albeit with a very different lineup.
The second album ‘Kingdom Come’ is a more ‘normal’ affair – at least as normal as Arthur Brown and his cohort, now including Phil Shutt on bass, could create. There are conventional forms along with some madcap japes and it definitely feels as though this is a band album, a characteristic emphasised by the album name – dropping the ‘Arthur Brown’s’. The album almost has the feel of something that could have been made by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band or even early Pink Floyd – very English eccentric and charming. It almost goes without saying that the playing is terrific.
Their stage show at this time was remarkably theatrical and a support slot to Alice Cooper’s first UK shows allowed them full rein over their staging.
The third album, ‘Journey’, really is the kicker. The band incorporated synths, Mellotron and a totally new device – a Bentley Rhythm Ace drum machine in place of a conventional drummer. There is a strong influence of the Krautrock bands as well as an almost Chorale style to much of the album. Brown was friendly with Hawkwind at this time and their use of electronics may have made an impression on Kingdom Come but the album takes electronica in many different directions with the freedom to not be based around a drummer but make the rhythm slave to the melody. Definitely my favourite of the three albums, it is really innovative and original.
The ‘BBC Sessions’ album includes the tracks they did for John Peel but also 9 previously unreleased numbers and they accurately catch the live sound of the band at various times in their existence.
As a package it is excellent. The remastering is superb and the booklet is informative and well researched. The bonus tracks are ok and the whole package is very well put together.