Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come: Journey (1973)
If you’ve been brought up on 1960s psychedelic rock, you’ve probably heard “Fire”, the 1968 classic from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. That band featured Arthur Brown, of course on vocals, as organist Vincent Crane (later of Atomic Rooster) and drummer Carl Palmer (later briefly of Atomic Rooster before joining Emerson, Lake & Palmer, one of the biggest names in prog rock). By 1969, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown was no more. A second album was recorded and scrapped (but later surfaced years later).
So Arthur Brown formed a new band called Kingdom Come (not to be confused with that Led Zeppelin clone band from the 1980s), in which he explored more spacy progressive rock. Already Kingdom Come released two albums, Galactic Zoo Dossier (1971) and Kingdom Come (1972) before releasing Journey. I have not heard their first two albums, so I can’t comment there, but Journey really took me by surprise.
While the Hammond organ dominated the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the dominant instruments on Journey were the Mellotron, ARP 2600 and VCS-3 synthesizers, with some great guitar work, and no real drums. Arthur Brown uses the Bentley Rhythm Ace drum machine on this album, which sounds like a cheap piece of crap toy (no wonder it took until the 1980s before drum machines were used regularly in recordings), but the totally amazing music makes up for the drum machine being used.
The album opens with “Time Captives” which starts off with the sound of Brown’s drum machine, before eventually all the strange electronic effects come in. By the time the vocals come in, the music is totally in progressive space rock territory. The next cut is the instrumental “Triangles”, not the most remarkable cut on the album, but the following cut, “Gypsy” totally makes up for that, because it’s simply one of the best cuts on the album.
“Supernatural Roadblocks” starts off with some totally amazing use of Mellotron, of the type the Moody Blues could only dream of, before the the music starts. The next cut, “Conception” is largely instrumental, but you get treated with Arthur Brown’s terrifying screams from time to time. “Spirit of Joy” is the closest thing to a hit on this album, and, unsurprisingly, the song was released as a single prior to the album’s release. The last song, “Come Alive” continues in the same synthesizer dominater prog rock territory, with a great bluesy middle passage with vocals that oddly remind me of Frank Zappa.
Unfortunately, after Journey was released, Kingdom Come broke up, leaving Arthur Brown to record simply under his own name. I have heard his 1975 album Dance, and I thought that album was almost total crap (except for a cover of “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”). So, surprisingly, Arthur Brown gave us much more than The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and “Fire”, as 1973’s Journey proves. Another classic album, in my book.
Year of release: 1973
– Arthur Brown: Bentley drum machine, vocals
– Andy Dalby: guitar, drums, vocals
– Victor Peraino: Mellotron, ARP 2600 and VCS-3 synthesizers, Theramin, piano, percussion, vocals
– Phil Shutt: bass, vocals, percussion
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