Kingdom Come – Journey
Here’s a bit of trivia for you. 1973′s Journey, from Arthur Brown’s progressive outfit Kingdom Come, was the first ever album to use a drum machine for its all of its percussion. The technology in question was a Bentley Rhythm Ace, one of the first of its kind, and in honour of this, the drumming was credited to the imaginary member, Ace Bentley.
Possibly not one of the likeliest bits of trivia to help out in a pub quiz, but you never know. I’ll be expecting a share of the loot, beer tokens, knock off DVDs etc. if it ever does.
As for Journey itself, once again Arthur Brown confounds expectations by flying off on a musical tangent to what had gone before.
Kingdom Come made a habit of this. Each of their three albums sounds as different as the next, and with Journey the use of the drum machine brings a completely new, if synthetic sounding, dimension to the proceedings.
The excellent Richard Morton Jack edited tome, Galactic Ramble, describes Journey, in an otherwise unfairly disparaging review, as being “like Hawkwind covered by a Vienna-era Ultravox…” an analogy I can quite understand. This album is very Hawkwind in nature, which isn’t a great surprise as the two bands moved in the same circles, sailing forth through the further reaches of space rock, but never quite reaching that interplanetary outpost because of the artificial sound created by the drum machine.
Yes, it’s very Ultravox in places, but despite this Journey is still a solid nugget of Arthur Brown insanity.
Recorded in the wake of the heavy acid intake that piloted the second album, Kingdom Come, this third and final outing from the band keeps its head firmly in the alternate dimension. Kicking off with ‘Time Captives’, the weakest track on here, due partly to its unashamed, yet somewhat all-too-serious, daftness, and the fact it can’t help but remind me of The Mighty Boosh’s ‘Future Sailor’ song, rendering it comical for all the wrong reasons.
But with the inadvertent sniggering out of the way, Journey comes into its own, taking us on a flight through the warped imagination of Arthur Brown via way of the short instrumental ‘Triangles’ – so called because the notes guitarist Andy Dalby played were guided by the frame of a triangle – then into the full-on progressive epics of ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Superficial Roadblocks’, both bristling with the type of lyric that seeks to put man beyond the reach of the moon. Cracking stuff!
‘Spirit of Joy’, released as a single at the time, is the closest this album comes to a conventional song, and what a belter it is. Accompanied by an array of sounds plucked from the intergalactic ether, Arthur Brown lets rip with his trademark full fat vocal delivery, with an out of character short, sharp burst of uplifting, post-hippy exultation.
Journey quickly recovers from its false start, and despite the synthetic nature of the drum machine, which on the rare occasion can make it sound horribly 1980s, it’s as worthwhile a listen as the previous three Arthur Brown albums…
… But what’s this? The 2010 Esoteric Recordings reissue only goes and throws in a bonus disc.
Yes, a second CD throbbing with rare treats. Well, there’s the single version of ‘Spirit of Joy’, markedly different to the album one, plus its B-side ‘Slow Rock’. Then there’s a few more alternate versions before three session tracks, recorded in 1972 for the John Peel show. The fact these come complete with Peel’s own original bumblings add beautifully to the atmosphere. Bob on!
Journey by Kingdom Come is released on Esoteric and available from Amazon.co.uk
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