The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Tantric Lover

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So Arthur Brown's name remains irremediably attached to the late-'60s freakout hit "Fire." So his numerous subsequent albums and projects never eclipsed that one fulgurous shot at stardom. Yet the man kept on going, re-emerging periodically with a new serving of songs. And in all of them remains one element: the voice. That unusually powerful, charismatic voice upon which aging seems to have no hold is what gives Tantric Lover its soul. Beyond the battered-up Summer of Love lyrics and the acoustic guitars, the voice is still a strange attractor and enough reason to turn your ear to this album. That is not to say that Brown's writing doesn't deserve your attention. On the contrary, his songs are sharp and listener-friendly. Backed by an acoustic bassist doubling as cellist (Stan Adler), a drummer versed in ethnic percussion, and multi-instrumentalist Rik Patten (who handles guitars and Hammond organ), the singer tells his stories as if to a group of his close friends. "Paradise" pairs a whispered narrative with a soaring chorus line in pure Crazy World fashion. "Circle Dance" has a delightful acoustic folk-rock feel. In "Gabriel," Brown displays his vocal range, reaching impossible lows as he explains how the Virgin Mary may have been enamored of the archangel. All the tracks are not that good: The ballads "Welcome" and "Swimfish" along with the musical theater love song "Heartaches" remain too syrupy to really catch the attention. But Tantric Lover is an honest effort, true to Brown's persona.

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