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Arthur Brown – Long Long Road Award winner

Arthur Brown
Long Long Road
by Gary Hernandez at 03 September 2022, 5:28 PM

Arthur Brown is most commonly remembered for his 1968 hit, “Fire.” Yeah, that one. He also featured on performances with THE WHO and Eric Clapton as well as Bruce Dickenson, THE STRANGLERS, and a host of others. Sadly, he suffered the fate of being ‘proto’ in an age before the Internet although he is credited as being the godfather of Prog, Shock, and Glam. Oh, yeah, and he’s from the UK and never broke in the US. Again, this was pre-Internet so not breaking in the US was the curse of the damned . . . at least commercially speaking. But here’s the good news—at the age of 80, Arthur Brown has released a new album and it is fantastic. Whether you have been an avid Arthur Brown fan for the last five decades or if he’s completely new to you, do yourself a favor and check this album out. Oh yeah, and invest in a quality set of headphones because this is an expertly mixed/mastered album that is sonically spatial and expansive.

Okay, this is not a Metal album at all. Just not. There are blues and jazz elements and of course signatures of Prog and Avant Garde, but no distorted riffs or explosive blast beats. Vocals are clean, soulful, and well-enunciated. Pianos, Hammond organs, and harmonicas feature prominently, and there is at least one song with an electric flute and another with a xylophone. Yes, a xylophone. And while there is one spoken word monologue, it isn’t articulated backwards in Latin. Also, there is no trace of an interlude with field recordings of running streams or Pagan rituals. So, again, decidedly not Metal but still very, very good so we all just need to get over ourselves with this one.

There are so many things to love about this album, but I‘m only going to touch on a few. First is the way Arthur Brown can express himself through his lyrics without being didactic or preachy. No soapboxes and pedestals in the vicinity. This is a guy just getting his mind and heart across without talking down or reading off a prescribed manifesto. In this vein, both iterations of “Once I Had Illusions” (parts I and II) and “Long Long Road” are standouts.

Second, as already mentioned, the production is incredible. There’s something new around every corner and under every box. And every instrument speaks like a jazz improvisational piece but somehow is melded with everything going on around it. Finally, and related to #1 and 2, the songwriting is stunning. This album is truly the culmination of 80 years of a lived life.

My favorite tracks, in addition to “Once I Had Illusions” and “Long Long Road,” are the insistent “Gas Tanks,” the sexy “I Like Game,” and the bluesy “The Blues and Messing Round.” I also like the lyrically frenetic “Shining Brightness,” but the best of the best is “Coffin Confessions.” This sly but poignant track comes at you from so many levels—Is it a deeply personal familial diatribe, it is commentary on the music scene, is it a mental health statement? Either way, it will make you gasp, laugh, and maybe even choke back a tear—but mostly laugh. And it’s this type of songwriting, this unlocked level of wisdom that distinguishes this album from so much of the detritus that pollutes our audio streams today. This is grown-up music for grown-up people.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Arthur Brown – Vocals, guitars, piano
Rik Patten – Multiple instruments
Lineup:
1.  Gas Tanks
2.  Coffin Confession
3.  Going Down
4.  Once I had Illusions (part 1)
5.  I Like Games
6.  Shining Brightness
7.  The Blues and Messing Round
8.  Long Long Road
9.  Once I had Illusions (part 2)
Record Label: Magnetic Eye Records
     


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Edited 01 February 2023
 

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