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Arthur Brown

Monster’s Ball

Review by Gary Hill

I really wish I'd gotten this CD a month or so earlier. It would have been a perfect fit in our October issue because it definitely has a spooky angle to it. This new release finds theatrical rocker Arthur Brown delivering the kind of sound you expect from him. This is modern, yet retro. It's space rock meets prog meets rockabilly, psychedelia and a lot more. It's diverse, dynamic and so cool. Brown is accompanied by a whole host of guests here including Billy Sherwood, Alan Davey, Steve Hillage, Jordan Rudess and Nik Turner, all adding to the prog appeal of this set.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Lucifer Sam feat. Ian Paice & Steve Hillage
Trippy textures open this. The cut powers out into a dramatic psychedelic rocking sound. It turns toward Hawkwind-like space rock as it continues, but there are some David Bowie-like elements at play, too. This is a real powerhouse that has some hints of things like "The Munsters" theme song in it. It's such a perfect opener. In addition to the featured musicians listed, MSJ readers should find another familiar name in Fernando Perdomo who played guitar, mellotron and organ and also produced the song.
Screamin' Ball (At Dracula's Hall)
Starting with classic horror organ music, this works out to more hard rocking stuff from there. Imagine this as a modern space rock meets rock and roll take on the kind of themes one gets from "The Monster Mash." It's a classy rocker with plenty of spooky fun in the mix. Although not listed as a "featured musician" on the back cover, Alan Davey plays upright bass, acoustic guitar, theremin, drums, backing vocals and scary vocals. He also produced the number.
I Feel Free feat. James Williamson & Rat Scabies
This classic tune gets an intriguing treatment here. It starts with just rhythmic elements and voices. It grows out from there to more of a cool hard rocking jam from there.
Bucket O' Blood feat. Nik Turner
Nik Turner's sax brings something special to this. This rocker feels like it would have been at home on the soundtrack to "From Dusk Till Dawn." It has plenty of old-school rock and roll in the mix. Again Alan Davey provides a number of instrumental performances and produced the song along with doing backing vocals.
Zombie Yelp feat. Roye Albrighton & Mark Stein
Davey is also on this cut and produced it. Plenty of classic rock and roll is the mix here. This has enough of the Arthur Brown magic to keep it unique and intriguing. It is also catchy and a lot of fun.
Whistlin' Past The Graveyard feat. The Sinclairs
There is some definite Horror-billy sound in the mix here. This also features theremin, making it an even bigger winner in my book. There is plenty of psychedelia and some space rock on display, too. This is so much fun. In fact, I'd consider it one of the highlights of the disc. Davey is on board in similar functions on this one, as well.
Fire feat. James Williamson, Brian Auger & Carmine Appice
Here we get a new version of Brown's big hit. I've always loved this song, and this screaming hot take brings a bit more prog to it while still preserving all the magic you expect. It still feels retro, too. That's a winning combination.
The Monster Hop feat. Shuggie Otis
Trippy psychedelia meets prog is built into the mellower introduction here. The vocals come over the top of that along with some rather soundtrack-like elements. The cut eventually works out to a definite Hawkwind-like jam from there. Davey returns here, and other than the bonus track is on every song going forward from here. In fact, on the next couple, it's strictly the Brown and Davey show, with Davey providing all the music to back up Brown's vocals.
Curse Of The Hearse
Rock and roll meets space, trippy psychedelia and much more on this. The lyrics going into some detail about the way a corpse degrades over time. This is weird, but also very cool.
Mad Witch
An energetic tune, this has some more pure prog in the mix than some of the others do. It's a fun track that's one of my favorites here.
The Vampire feat. The Coffin Daggers
Atmospherics serve as the backdrop for the first vocals. The cut works out from there to a classy rock and roll meets space music concept. The theremin is a great touch on this number. This is so much fun. If I'd heard this one before my list of vampire songs in the October issue, it would have definitely been included. This is classy.
Late Last Night feat. Steve Hillage, Roye Albrighton, Gilli Smyth & Joel Vandroogenbroeck
This cut is keyboard dominated, fairly mellow and very proggy. The vocals stand tall about the almost Tangerine Dream-like backdrop.
Bonus Track:
     
Karn Evil #9: 1st Impression Part 2 feat. Jordan Rudess

Here Brown tackles Emerson, Lake and Palmer in a killer prog excursion. In addition to Brown's vocals and Jordan Rudess' keyboards, Billy Sherwood provides the bass. He also produced the track.

 
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