The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (album)

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The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 1968 (1968-06)
GenrePsychedelic rock, acid rock
ProducerKit Lambert
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown chronology
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is the eponymous debut studio album by the English psychedelic rock band the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The album was produced by the Who's manager Kit Lambert with associate production by Pete Townshend. The album was released in June 1968 on Lambert's Track Records label in the UK, with North American distribution handled by Atlantic Records. The album was released in the US in September. (Early North American copies of the album, while distributed by Atlantic, bore the Track Records imprint; later pressings were released on the Atlantic label proper.) It was the only album released by the band in its original incarnation; a follow-up was recorded in 1969 but went unreleased for two decades.

The album peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart, No. 2 on the UK charts, and No. 6 in Canada.[1] The album's first single, "Fire," was a global success, reaching No. 1 in the UK in August 1968, No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in North America in October 1968, No. 1 in Canada also in October, and No. 19 in Australia again in October.

Instrumentation and content[edit]

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was the only album released by the band during its active tenure, and features the band's core members Arthur Brown (vocals), Vincent Crane (organ, piano and vibes), and Drachen Theaker (drums). Bass guitar, where used, was provided by Nick Greenwood; session drummer John Marshall replaced Theaker on two selections.[2] Horn and string overdubs were also employed on side one of the album. While the latter were done for tactical reasons, Brown's opinion is that the overdubs add to the album's overall presentation, replacing visuals and costume changes he would have employed in live performance to achieve dramatic effect.[3]

Considered a classic of the late-1960s psychedelic scene and a significant influence on progressive rock, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown included a full album side of original songs focused on the horrors of Hell, including Brown's signature song "Fire" which showcased Crane's organ and brass arrangement as well as Brown's powerful, wide-ranging operatic voice. The album's second side contained a mix of original songs and covers, the latter being Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You" and James Brown's "I've Got Money." The album's format reflected a compromise between Brown and the band's producer/manager Kit Lambert; Brown's original intent was to produce an album-long rock opera incorporating the material included on side one, while Lambert wanted to produce a more overtly commercial record, including cover material from the band's stage act.[4]

In Ronnie Wood's radioshow of 14 November 2011, both Wood and Alice Cooper claim that the bass on the single "Fire" is performed by Ron Wood,[5] but Polly Marshall's biography of Arthur Brown states that "According to, Ronnie claims he played on the Track Records studio sessions recording Fire, but he must have confused it with the BBC session [of 8 April 1968]."[6] There is no bass guitar on the recording, only bass pedals.[6]

Following the success of the single "Fire," the press would often refer to Brown as "The God of Hellfire" in reference to the opening shouted line of the song.

Stereo vs. mono song mixes and overdubs[edit]

The album was released exclusively in stereo in North America, except for mono promotional-only copies, but both monophonic and stereo versions were available in the UK. In a 1999 interview, Brown explained that Lambert added brass and strings overdubs at Atlantic's request, to mask perceived deficiencies in the percussion tracks:

We had recorded the whole album with just bass, drums, keyboard, and myself. Kit took it over to America, and Atlantic Records said 'Crazy stuff! But, uh, the drummer can't keep time' ... Kit had recorded it on four-track; he'd recorded the drums and the keyboard on the same track. I said, 'We can't possibly redo it all' ... and he said, 'I know what we could do, Arthur. Dub some strings on it.' We found out Vincent could orchestrate it, and that's how it came about ... Kit took two weeks, probably fourteen hours a day to mix it ... [after the remix was done, Lambert's business partner] Chris Stamp [played] us the acetate. He got about four minutes into the acetate, and Drachen leapt across the room, took it off the turntable, smashed it on the wall. Because his drums were buried.[7]

The album was reissued on CD in 1991, including the songs from side one of the original LP in both monaural and stereo. The monaural version of side one of the album is from an unreleased alternate mix made before the brass and strings were overdubbed, not from the monaural version of the album.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[8]

AllMusic gave a positive retrospective review of the album, remarking that "Though a bit over the top, this album was still powerful and surprisingly melodic, and managed to be quite bluesy and soulful..."[8]

Original 1968 release[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Arthur Brown) – 3:28
  2. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Vincent Crane) – 1:51
  3. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Mike Finesilver, Peter Ker)[9] – 2:54
  4. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) – 5:40
  5. "Time" (Brown) – 3:07
  6. "Confusion" (Crane) – 2:08

Side two[edit]

  1. "I Put a Spell on You" (Screamin' Jay Hawkins) – 3:41
  2. "Spontaneous Apple Creation" (Brown, Crane) – 2:54
  3. "Rest Cure" (Brown, Crane) – 2:44
  4. "I've Got Money" (James Brown) – 3:09
  5. "Child of My Kingdom" (Brown, Crane) – 7:01 (Original North American releases of the album contained a 6:25 edit of this track, but incorrectly list its length as 5:05; the UK mono edition contains a 6:04 edit)

1991 Polydor reissue[edit]

  1. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Brown) (Alternative Mono Version) – 3:49
  2. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 2:02
  3. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) (Alternative Mono Version) – 3:01
  4. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 5:06
  5. "Time" (Brown) / "Confusion" (Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 4:57
  6. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Brown) – 3:28
  7. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) – 1:51
  8. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) – 2:54
  9. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) – 5:40
  10. "Time" (Brown) / "Confusion" (Crane) – 5:11
  11. "I Put a Spell on You" (Hawkins) – 3:41
  12. "Spontaneous Apple Creation" (Brown, Crane) – 2:54
  13. "Rest Cure" (Brown, Crane) – 2:44
  14. "I've Got Money" (James Brown) – 3:09
  15. "Child of My Kingdom" (Brown, Crane) – 7:01

1997 Touchwood reissue[edit]

  1. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Brown) – 3:28[10]
  2. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) – 1:51
  3. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) – 2:54
  4. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) – 5:40
  5. "Time" (Brown) / "Confusion" (Crane) – 5:11
  6. "I Put a Spell on You" (Hawkins) – 3:41
  7. "Spontaneous Apple Creation" (Brown, Crane) – 2:54
  8. "Rest Cure" (Brown, Crane) – 2:44
  9. "I've Got Money" (James Brown) – 3:09
  10. "Child of My Kingdom" (Brown, Crane) – 7:01
  11. "Devil's Grip" (Brown) – 3:19
  12. "Give Him A Flower" (Brown, Crane) – 2:58
  13. "What's Happening? (a.k.a. Music Man)" (Brown, Crane) (mono single mix) – 3:15
  14. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Brown) (Alternative Mono Version) – 3:49
  15. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 2:02
  16. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) (Alternative Mono Version) – 3:01
  17. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 5:06
  18. "Time" (Brown) / "Confusion" (Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 4:57

2010 Esoteric Recordings reissue[edit]

CD one[edit]

  1. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Brown) – 3:29[11]
  2. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) – 1:51
  3. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) – 2:55
  4. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) – 5:42
  5. "Time" (Brown) / "Confusion" (Crane) – 5:13
  6. "I Put a Spell on You" (Hawkins) – 3:44
  7. "Spontaneous Apple Creation" (Brown, Crane) – 2:56
  8. "Rest Cure" (Brown, Crane) – 2:46
  9. "I've Got Money" (James Brown) – 3:11
  10. "Child of My Kingdom" (Brown, Crane) – 7:01

CD two[edit]

  1. "Devil's Grip" (Brown) – 3:22
  2. "Give Him A Flower" (Brown, Crane) – 3:02
  3. "Music Man" (Brown, Crane) (2009 stereo mix) – 3:57
  4. "Fire (First version)" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) – 3:05
  5. "Prelude/Nightmare" (Brown) (Alternative Mono Version) – 3:49
  6. "Fanfare/Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 2:01
  7. "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) (Alternative Mono Version) – 3:01
  8. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 4:25
  9. "Time" (Brown) / "Confusion" (Crane) (Alternative Mono Version) – 5:39
  10. "Interview with Brian Matthew" – 1:16
  11. "Fire Poem" (Brown, Crane) / "Fire" (Brown, Crane, Finesilver, Ker) (BBC Radio 1 session) – 4:01
  12. "Come and Buy" (Brown, Crane) (BBC Radio 1 session) – 2:38
  13. "Nightmare" (Brown) (soundtrack recording from the film The Committee) – 2:54


  • Arthur Brown – vocals
  • Vincent Crane – keyboards, vibes, musical arrangements and orchestration
  • Nick Greenwood (billed as "Sean Nicholas") – bass guitar
  • Drachen Theaker – drums
  • John Marshall – drums (on "I Put a Spell on You" and "Child of My Kingdom")[2]
Additional personnel
  • Pete Townshend – associate producer
  • Kit Lambert – producer
  • David King – cover design
  • David Montgomery – photography
  • Ed Strait – compilation producer


  1. ^ "RPM Top 50 Albums - November 2, 1968" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b Unterberger 2000, p. 45.
  3. ^ Unterberger 2000, p. 44.
  4. ^ Unterberger 2000, p. 46.
  5. ^ "Show 81". Ronnie Wood Radio. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b Polly Marshall, The God of Hellfire, the Crazy Life and Times of Arthur Brown, ISBN 0-946719-77-2, SAF Publishing, 2005, page 64
  7. ^ Unterberger 2000, p. 44-45.
  8. ^ a b "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Arthur Brown". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  9. ^ Finesilver and Ker are not credited as authors of "Fire" on original pressings of the album or attending single.
  10. ^ "Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, The – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, The – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 8 June 2015.