Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Arthur Brown — Monster's Ball
(Cleopatra CLO2214, 2022, CD / LP / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2022-10-17
When Arthur Brown kicked off his first big single by declaring “I am the God of Hellfire!” he announced his focus on sinister imagery and gave himself a lasting nickname. That song, “Fire,” appears on this new album in an updated form, along with a selection of other tunes with similar themes, featuring vampires, witches, monsters, zombies, graveyards, and blood. Brown was the prototype for Alice Cooper and Kiss, and Monster’s Ball shows that he’s still alive and kicking at the age of 80 (though some of these recordings surely date from years ago - more on that later). A suitable subtitle for this album would be Arthur Brown Sings Halloween Favorites, as there are quite a few covers of novelty songs from the 50s and 60s here: Bert Convy’s “The Monster Hop,” Big Boy Groves’ “Bucket o’ Blood,” Terry Teene’s “Curse of the Hease,” The Duponts’ “Screamin’ Ball (at Dracula’s Hall),” The Cadillac’s “The Boogie Man” (here called “Late Last Night”), and Dave Gardner’s “Mad Witch.” A couple of 60s classics (Cream’s “I Feel Free” and Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam”), Tom Waits’ “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard,” and a couple of Brown originals (“Fire” and “Zombie Yelp”) round out the setlist. Brown is backed by an all-star line-up in these rousing tunes, which lifts the set above the pure novelty of the material. For example, the Waits song is transformed from gutter jazz to menacing rock thunder. I don’t have any information about the vintage of these tracks, but the participation of Roye Albrighton on two tracks places some prior to 2016. Other guests include Ian Paice, Steve Hillage, Gilli Smyth, Alan Davey, Nik Turner, Brian Auger, Carmine Appice, and Shuggie Otis, among others. Jordan Rudess appears on the bonus track, a version of “Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2.” For most listeners, this would be a fun thing to pull out in the lead-up to Halloween, but probably sit on the shelf the rest of the year. Still, it’s a fun romp through a haunted house.
Related artist(s): Nik Turner, Gilli Smyth / Mother Gong, Steve Hillage / System 7, Arthur Brown, Jordan Rudess, Brian Auger / Oblivion Express / Trinity, Alan Davey / Hawkestrel, Roye Albrighton, Fernando Perdomo, Carmine Appice
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