Arthur Brown / The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Strangelands

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Recorded in the late 1960s, but not issued until the late 1980s, this is Arthur Brown's missing second album. Had it appeared right after it was recorded, it would have bewildered listeners to no end. Brown was no longer weird in an accessible and entertaining fashion -- he was just weird, period. It's as if he decided to do his debut album over again, but concentrated almost exclusively on the hellish dissonance bits that linked, opened, and closed some tracks, rather than the songs themselves. Loosely arranged as a suite divided into the four parts of "The Country," "The City," "The Cosmos," and "The Afterlife," it's untuneful and demented stuff that owes at least as much to free improv jazz as psychedelic rock. It's also much heavier on the operatic vocal histrionics and unfathomably metaphysical lyrics, with few of the R&B-grounded organ riffs that helped put his debut album into the Top Ten. The one song that sounds as if it could have -- just barely -- fit onto the first Crazy World album is "Planets of the Universe," with its floating organ and lilting, melodious vocals, although these unexpectedly cut into a busk of "Dem Bones." A distraught, lo-fi cover of the '50s death rock hit "Endless Sleep" ends the strange, sprawling, messy affair.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:04
2 3:08
3 2:24
4 3:04
5 5:38
6 5:40
7 4:33
8 6:17
9 1:07
10 6:49
11 2:23
12 3:32
13 2:04
14 3:16
15 6:52
16 2:37
17 4:39
18 4:06
19 2:30
blue highlight denotes track pick