Arthur Brown – Chisholm in my Bosom
Remarkably for a man who, to this day, is considered by many to be little more than a one hit wonder, by 1977 Arthur Brown had recorded his sixth album (seventh if you count the “lost” Strangelands); the enigmatically titled Chisholm in my Bosom.
Now this isn’t, as you would be forgiven for thinking, a concept piece based around the character of Albert “Cheerful Charlie” Chisholm, malodorous Detective Sergeant and bane of Arthur Daley’s life. The title, in fact, is an arcane reference to the home of some “spiritual guru” type, with whom Brown was involved at the time of recording. As was the done thing in the 1970s.
While the UK music scene was being rent asunder by the amphetamine-fuelled fury of a legion of bronchial ‘erberts, the original shaman of overcooked shock had mellowed a tad, and whereas brief blasts of three-chord anarchy were all the rage, Arthur wasn’t about to be swayed by the musical disposition of a new generation of acne-festooned upstarts.
Call me a shameless old name-dropper and I’ll readily plead guilty, but esteemed rock writer, King Crimson sage and all around good egg, Sid Smith, said to me on that there Twitter: “Do you ever wake up and think I’ve probably got all the Arthur Brown I’m ever going to need in my lifetime?”
As the shelves of my CD cabinet bow under the weight of Arthur’s material, I remain resolutely in denial, but following a preliminary listen to Chisholm in my Bosom, I did begin to wonder if, perhaps, I had.
The lustre is severely lacking on tracks like ‘Need to Know’ and ‘Let A Little Sunshine (Into Your Life)’, with their worrying tinges of MOR country rock; and ‘She’s On My Mind’ sits as close to the nadir of Arthur Brown’s recorded oeuvre as its possible to get without being sucked under by the awful Strangelands. One has to wonder if this is a conscious effort to infiltrate the mainstream, as though the advent of punk has sent the God of Hellfire scurrying away towards its polar opposite, in the bid to remain alternative.
But fear not, dear reader, for this is Arthur Brown, after all, and it rare that we at HFoS find him to be a complete letdown. Allow me to present the case for the defence:
‘Monkey Walk’ and the god-bothering, gospel-flavoured ‘The Lord is my Saviour’ inject some much needed life into what would originally have been side A of a vinyl-based long player. But it is a triumphant revisiting of ‘I Put a Spell on You’, nine years after recording it as part of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, that stands out here. A decidedly more laid back rendition than either his CWoAB or the original Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version, what it lacks in a frantic Vincent Crane Hammond organ swirl, it makes up for in its gradual intensification and dignified, all round execution.
The title track (which took up the entirety of the B-side 34 years ago) is a 23 minute return to form of the more experimental Brown, previously heard during the Kingdom Come era, that reassures the listener of Crazy Arthur’s ability to still produce interesting and imaginative music, regardless of some of the aforementioned rot that Chisholm in my Bosom churns out.
Which highlights the fact that, whereas the inconsistencies of Chisholm in my Bosom might’ve suggested that by 1977 Arthur Brown was a spent force, the truth of the matter was it was a mere two years away from the recording of what was possibly his finest moment. I refer, of course, to the re-teaming with Crazy World keyboardist Vincent Crane (who also appears here on ‘The Lord is my Saviour’) and the excellent Faster Than the Speed of Light.
That album is essential. This one’s just okay.
Chisholm in my Bosom, by Arthur Brown, is reissued by Esoteric and available to buy from Amazon.co.uk
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