Kingdom Come (Arthur Brown)

Kingdom Come (Arthur Brown)

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come was one of the most unusual and interesting bands of the 1970s British music scene, combining Arthur Brown's voice, theatrics, and conceptualizations with psychedelic and progressive rock music. The group was a hit on Britain's festival circuit, but lack of record sales, indifference from music critics, and poor record company promotion (especially in the US) led to its eventual demise in 1974.

After the collapse of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in 1969, when keyboardist Vincent Crane and drummer Carl Palmer left to eventually form Atomic Rooster, Brown worked with a varied group of musicians on projects called Strangelands, Puddletown Express,and (briefly) the Captain Beefheart-influenced Rustic Hinge, before finding the musicians who would make up Kingdom Come. Chief among these was guitarist Andy Dalby, who was the only consistent member after Brown himself. Dalby's guitar playing and vocals were a key part of this unfairly ignored band.

The band included (at one time or another) Brown, Dalby, Victor Peraino (keyboards), Julian Paul Brown (no relation, keyboards) [ Michael Harris] (keyboards), Phil Shutt (bass), Desmond Fisher (bass), and Martin Steer (drums). "Ace Bentley," credited with drums on the final Kingdom Come album, was actually the Bentley Ace Rhythm Machine, an early drum machine manufactured by the Ace-Tone company of Japan. (Ace-Tone later evolved into the Roland Corporation, one of the biggest synthesizer and musical instrument manufacturers in the world.)

Kingdom Come's albums were "Galactic Zoo Dossier" (1971), the self-titled "Kingdom Come" (1972), and "Journey" (1973). Brown stated in an interview with an English music magazine that the three albums were intended to present a thematic progression. The first focused on the state of humankind in the present, the second on the human animal itself and the dichotomy between the body and mind, and the third focusing on cosmic and spiritual matters. The band was marketed as "Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come" in the United States due to name conflicts. (A similarly named glam metal band of the 1980s is no relation.)

Kingdom Come were one of the first bands to use synthesizers, notably the VCS3, an early British synth used by Pink Floyd and Brian Eno among others at the time. The Mellotron, another keyboard famous for use by groups such as King Crimson and the Moody Blues, also figured prominently in the group's repertoire. This use of keyboards put them in the front lines of musical innovation in those days. On the final album, "Journey", there was no drummer either on the record or on tour; all the drum sounds were from the Bentley Rhythm Ace, operated by Brown himself. This may have been the first, or one of the first, instances when a rock band used a drum machine instead of a drummer.

A number of factors contributed to the end of Kingdom Come, including mediocre album sales, critical disdain, the revolving door membership of the band, and Brown's frustration with the music business in general. The band dissolved rather than officially breaking up, with Brown citing a desire to play simpler music and opt for a simpler lifestyle in general in later interviews. However, the music that Kingdom Come left behind is certainly worth exploration for progressive rock and psychedelic rock enthusiasts, and stands up well as a part of Arthur Brown's 40-plus year legacy.

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