The God of Hellfire returned in 2014 to release this latest effort, which like anything in his catalog, is something completely out of left field. The story of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown is one of the great untold stories of rock n’ roll. Taking what Screamin’ Jay Hawkins had accomplished and using it as a blueprint, this shock rock outfit released what was one of the most boundary-pushing, transgressive records of 1968 with their self-titled debut. After spawning their lone hit song “Fire”, the group promptly disappeared, with Brown putting out material sporadically over the years that have followed. Although not nearly as influential as the Alice Cooper group, the Crazy World did pre-date them; and it’s worth noting that Arthur Brown was wearing corpse paint decades before the dawn of black metal.
This record definitely has its moments of being quite good. There is something humorously instinctive about Brown’s opening monologue on “Zim Zam Zim”; it’ll have you cackling like a loon in the peanut gallery. The following track, “Want to Love”, showcases Brown’s vocal capabilities which too often get swept under the rug without receiving their due recognition. Skipping down, we find “The Unknown”, a song that is perfectly capable of being a hit single alongside “Fire” in Brown’s catalog. Jumping down to the last three tracks on the record, “Light Your Light, ” Touched by All”, and “The Formless Depths”, the Crazy World definitely know how to close out a record. The first of which, “Light Your Light”, is a wonderful little ballad that is much sweeter on its own than in the context of the storyline of the record. It’s the next two tracks, however, which really seal the deal for the Crazy World’s legacy in the history of rock music and solidifies their influence throughout shock rock. “Touched by All” and “The Formless Depths” feel like one long song and the picture that they work together to paint is a menacing one. Some of these lyrics are downright mean-spirited, which isn’t something that the Crazy World is known for, perhaps symbolizing that they are ready and willing to compete on the 21st century shock rock stage (if there even is one).
This is a solid record that shows the band’s capabilities in pushing the envelope, even within the context of today’s highly desensitized rock scene, proving that they still have solid capable chops. The only real trouble with this record is that it hits a sluggish mid-section, but it’s definitely worth it to trudge through it in order to get to the powerful, evocative, albeit frightening conclusion. This is a fresh record from an artist who has been around for a very, very long time. A late-career resurgence from Arthur Brown? That sounds pretty damn good. The music industry could use a few more figures like Brown around to shake things up. The 21st century music business, especially within the context of what is popular on the billboard charts, needs to be shaken up a bit. Everything has become so same-same and dull; every hip hop artist sounds the same; every rock band sounds the same; every pop diva looks and sounds the same; so what’s the harm in having a few more shock rockers like Brown around? With records of this quality, the answer is that there is none.