If you look up the word “psychedelic” in any dictionary, it should define it as “The Crazy World Of Aurthur Brown”.
Yes, there are many bands that are associated with psychedelic music, but there is only one that defines it: “The Crazy World Of Aurthur Brown”
From the sometimes dark and always twisted lyrics, to the swirling and sometimes explosive music, to the outrageous pyrotechnics and stage antics and makeup that influenced so many bands for decades, including Alice Cooper, Yes, Genesis, George Clinton, Queen, and numerous others. “The Crazy World of Aurthur Brown” helped define psychelelic music and influenced countless bands inside and outside that genre.
It should also be noted that Aurthur Brown had one of the most truly amazing voices in music. His was a rare anomaly that could span four octaves – something he took full advantage of on the band’s self titled debut album.
“The Crazy World of Aurthur Brown” only had one actual hit song, “Fire”, which is on this album, so they are considered to be a “one hit wonder” band. But their true legacy is in the influence they had on so many other bands.
I remember picking up Asia’s debut, self titled album without ever hearing a song on it. The only thing I knew about the band was who was in it – and that was enough for me. Carl Palmer, the drummer from Emerson Lake and Palmer; Geoffrey Downes and Steve Howe, keyboardist and guitarist respectively from Yes, and John Wetton bassist and vocalist from King Crimson. For members from three of my favorite bands.
I also remember that when I first heard Asia, I was initially, somewhat disappointed. To me, this was the supergroup to end all supergroups. And in a way it was – just not in the way I expected. This was the ’80s. This was the time of pop and polish – and reverb. Progressive rock was waning in popularity. Gone were the epics that took up an entire side of an album. Gone were the extended solos. The songs on Asia were short and concise compositions – songs designed to be hits. And there were many hits on this album.
After repeated listenings, I learned to appreciate this album for what it was. The members of Asia, having been in some of the most successful bands in the ’70s, wanted to have a successful album. They also wanted to keep their integrity as musicians and songwriters. Mission accomplished. Asia was the marriage of ’70s prog and ’80s pop music.
Listening to Asia’s first album now, I realize what a significant record it is. Although it has a somewhat overproduced, distinctly 1980s production style to it, which I am typically not a huge fan of, the musicianship on this album is exceptional. Typical to prog-rock, many of the songs mix loud and soft passages, tempo shifts, and interesting chord chages. Those elements were just more subtle than before, and mixed in with a bit of pop and polish – and reverb. Asia is a great album for what it was: a record that marked a turning point in rock and roll, for better or for worse.
This is yet another phenomenal debut album by a band. Then again, Robert Fripp changed the membership and sound of King Crimson so many times through the years, it seems like almost every album by them was their debut. “In The Court Of The Crimson King” will always be one of my favorite albums by them.
The members that came and went from the various lineups of King Crimson almost always went on to have notable musical careers. From this lineup, Ian MacDonald would eventually become a founding member of Foreigner and Greg Lake became the bassist and lead vocalist for supergroup Emerson Lake and Palmer. Michael Giles became a highly sought session musician who has played with numerous bands. He had a jazzy intricate style of playing that was a perfect fit for this version of King Crimson.
“In The Court Of The Crimson King” was a hugely successful album for King Crimson. It became one of the founding and defining albums of progressive rock.