Song Of The Week: “Fire” by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

There are both positives and negatives to giving yourself a name such as The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. On the plus side, you’re allowed a lot of leeway – leeway you likely wouldn’t receive had you named yourself something along the lines of, say, The Sweetly Swingin’ Sounds Of Arthur Brown. Audiences usually appreciate their perceptions being verified. Which is how you can get away with opening a song by defiantly shouting, “I am the god of hellfire!”

Oh, that Arthur. He’s so crazy!

On the minus side, you have to live up to that name.

Arthur Brown and his Crazy World formed in London in 1967, shortly after Mr. Brown suddenly had to leave France for accidentally setting fire to a nightclub owned by the mafia. Upon his return home, Brown befriended a classically trained pianist, and later hooked up with a drummer who had recently missed his audition for the Jimi Hendrix Experience because he got caught in traffic.

Taking the name The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, the trio began gigging all over the city with their own brand of progressive psychedelic rock, primarily playing at the hippest spot of all, the UFO Club, sharing the stage with such cutting edge acts as Pink Floyd and The Soft Machine.

Pete Townshend of The Who took an interest in the fledgling band, largely due to their wildly dynamic live appearances, and convinced his record company to sign them up. Townshend also executive produced the group’s debut album, usefully titled, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. The third track on the record was a mover and a groover called “Fire” which, when released as a single in the summer of 1968, hit #1 in the UK, and just missed the top spot in the US, peaking at #2.

“Fire” received extra attention because Arthur Brown would actually set the top of his head ablaze before every performance. This, of course, made concert promoters and TV producers nervous (and bookings began to dry up), but it made for one hellfire of a show.

I bring you…

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