1972's `Journey' was the third and final album from Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come project, and is in many ways the most coherent and accessible of the three. It also has a completely different sound from not only its two predecessors, but from anything else recorded in this era: it would be 10 years before any other recorded music began to sound like this.
When drummer Martin Steer left the band, Brown chose to replace him with the Bentley Rhythm Ace drum machine, which he learned to operate himself and even `played' onstage (the absence of a drum kit would have liberated a lot of space in the touring van, plus you don't need to pay a drum machine's wage or beer bill). The heavily synth-and-mellotron based music the band builds around the Bentley is excellent, with Andy Dalby's electric guitar adding real soul to the soundscape over which Brown's dominant, operatic baritone creates memorable music with majesty and power.
Highlights are the long intro-track `Time Captives' which features minor-key vocal harmonies over a powerful, arresting space-rock groove; the 3-part `Superficial Roadblocks' where Dalby takes over the lead vocal, and the surprisingly upbeat `Spirit of Joy' which would have made an excellent hit single. The whole album gels together well, and is light years away from its messy and chaotic immediate predecessor.
Arthur Brown took a hiatus from the music industry for several years following `Journey'. His personal journey has often produced interesting music (he's still touring in 2015), but rarely anything as groundbreaking or original as this 1972 oddity.
Kingdom Come's third and last album followed a major personnel shake-up and sounded radically different to its sometimes very silly - if often entertaining - predecessor. Keyboard player Goodge Harris, who played excellent organ and piano on their first two albums, was replaced by Victor Peraino, an American who majored in Mellotron and synthesizers and made a huge difference to the sound of the band. But more radical still was the replacement of drummer Slim Steer with the Bentley Rhythm Ace drum machine. There ARE earlier recordings that use a drum machine - J.J. Cale was quite fond of them and used one on parts of his debut album, Naturally. But no rock band had played live with a drum machine when Kingdom Come began doing so in 1972, and Journey is almost certainly the first rock album to use one throughout, and while the sounds it produces - with the semi-exception of the bass drum - don't closely resemble those of real drums, there was clearly quite a lot of flexibility to program the rhythms.
The album starts with a slow, metronomic bass drum thud - the last time in the whole record that you could conceivably think it might feature a live drummer. It speeds up and is gradually joined by the other instruments before bursting into synth-drenched space-rock anthem Time Captives - although Arthur actually sings "time captains" throughout. The following Triangles is a very oblique waltz-time instrumental, equally futuristic sounding if very different, then on Gypsy they close the first side of the original LP with a sublime dose of rocking prog, which borrows a couple of riffs from one of their earlier tracks and features some epic and beautifully arranged heavy guitar from Andy Dalby, still with that futuristic sound - the production is pleasingly uniform throughout, helping to make the album even more than the sum of its very considerable parts.
The 3 part Superficial Roadblocks kicks off the second half of the album with massed Mellotrons on both orchestra and choir settings and the lead vocal ably sung by guitarist Andy Dalby - like some of the other vocals on the album, it sounds like it's been processed through a Leslie speaker. Conception is another oblique little instrumental, this time overlaid with epic screams by Arthur Brown. This is followed by Spirit Of Joy, apparently one of the last tunes Goodge Harris contributed to before he left the band and written with the intention of having a "proper song". Its extreme positivity suits the title and its simple structure and tune make it unsurprising that it was chosen as a single - nothing else on the album could possibly have been a single A-side. It's a strong tune but has always sounded a little out of place here. Finally, Come Alive fades in on a 6/8 shuffle and like Gypsy features a lot of Andy Dalby's excellent guitar as well as some quieter sections.
When Journey was issued in spring 1973, it sounded like nothing that had preceded it. The drum machine and heavy use of synthesizers - and, it must be said, the excellent production by arch retro rocker Dave Edmunds, of all people - gave it a highly futuristic space-rock sound that went way beyond Hawkwind's use of synthesizers largely as sound effects. So futuristic, indeed, that it's interesting to speculate on how much this album influenced some of the post-punk and electro-pop acts 5 or 6 years down the line - you can certainly hear a pre-echo of Gary Numan on parts of Time Captives, except that the vocals are so vastly superior. But it's also of its time, with prog rock riffing and a spiritual dimension to some of the lyrics usually absent in the vastly different scene of the late 70s and early 80s.
This edition improves slightly on the sound of the 2003 Sanctuary reissue but despite growing an extra disc it only adds two tracks to that edition. Here, the first disc contains the original album and the second contains the A- and B-sides of a single, 3 "alternate versions" of songs on the album and 3 tracks from a John Peel session recorded in September 1972.
The single A-side was a considerably altered version of Spirit Of Joy - the slow intro was edited off, and the drum machine was replaced by an uncredited drummer. The B-side of the single, Slow Rock (named after a setting on the drum machine!) has never been reissued before. Over what sounds like an edit of the backing track of Come Alive, or at least an alternative take of it, Arthur sings a completely different lyric namechecking many of the glam and glitter artists and hit songs of the time and Andy Dalby plays a fine echoed guitar solo. This is by far the juiciest rarity here and most obvious reason for fans to buy this edition.
The three "alternate versions" - of Time Captives, Conception and Come Alive - have, along with the single version of Spirit Of Joy, appeared on all previous CD editions of Journey and were first issued on the 1976 compilation The Lost Ears. These are presumably discarded early mixes - while they are probably essentially built on the same takes as the final album versions, they are significantly different mixes and edits, with some different-sounding instrumental parts as well.
The John Peel session is taken from an off-air recording and is of bootleg quality, though certainly listenable; two of the tracks are followed by pertinent comments by John Peel. This version of Slow Rock is nearer the length of the full version of Come Alive and features some archetypal prog rock guitar and organ duelling, far more typical of the era; John Peel's comments indicate that Goodge Harris was yet to be replaced by Victor Peraino. The lyric, so far as I can tell with the murky sound, is different from either Come Alive or the single version of Slow Rock. Spirit Of Joy is considerably slower than either the album or single versions and, frankly, inferior, especially as it is much longer - over 8 minutes; the spacy breakdown in the middle is quite entertaining, though. These two tracks were previously issued on the 2003 Sanctuary reissue. Here we also get a previously unissued version of Triangles from the same session. The interplay of guitar and Goodge Harris's organ make this quite different from the album version. It's fascinating to hear these tunes being played by the different line-up and interesting to discover that Goodge Harris remained in the band into the drum machine era and Victor Peraino had been a member for no more than a couple of months when they started recording Journey.
All these extras are worth having to some degree, and some are excellent, but don't be fooled by the double CD into thinking this adds much to the Sanctuary version - it's only about 7 minutes longer.
But overall, this is a superb package and it would have been wrong to leave any of the extras off this reissue just because most of them had come out before.
on 9 May 2010
This was Arthur Brown's third and final Kingdom Come album, and is entirely different in many ways from its two predecessors. It is a lot easier to digest for a start, there are more regular tempos and extended codas here. For the first time is an album based around the drum machine (operated by Brown) instead of a human counterpart. The reasons for this are unclear but it would certainly mean there was more room in the tour van and it didn't drink all beer like the real thing. Obviously these days it does sound a little quaint, but it's nowhere near as basic as it could have been, being the Bentley Rhythm Ace, a drum machine so great that a 90's band named themselves after it. Luckily the material built around it is superb, coherent and well executed and represents Brown's finest hour certainly since the debut Crazy World album.
As well as the drum machine, there are major developments on the keyboard front with those twin staples of all things cosmic the Mellotron and the VCS3 synthesizer at the forefront and there is an inevitable gravitational pull towards Hawkwind territory because of this. There is no doubt that this is out and out space rock, Arthur Brown style, and the opening suite works particularly well. `Time Captives' is a powerful and definitive opener, utilising the speed button on the Bentley drum machine to cover a range of tempos before settling down into the groove and the journey begins . The three pieces here have a fine cohesion, flowing into each other, with Mellotron and swooping synthesisers from new recruit Victor Periano, and Andy Dalby's ever present guitar providing the colours behind Brown's vocals and tempo changes. This cohesion continues into the extended `Roadblocks' and closer `Come Alive'. However the album as a whole becomes a little disjointed with the presence of the out of context `Spirit Of Joy' an ill advised attempt to write a `proper' song. Cosmic travellers do not need proper songs. On the whole this is a unique album even within the annals of the progressive genre. It would be years later before people would attempt to record using programmed drums again.
This reissue from Esoteric re-masters the audio to the highest standards and includes a bonus disc of out-takes and single sides, and includes a Peel session too, although from an off air source. Even this will have many wiping a deeply nostalgic tear, given that they have left Peel's comments intact on the recording.
After this, Brown went off to India to find himself, which he presumably did, as he's mercifully still with us.
Musicologists can argue whether this was the first rock album recorded with a drum machine instead of skins, but it stands out as an artistic, not just a technical achievement (mind you, skins of another kind were almost certainly deployed in the recording).
Journey is a unique piece of progressive, psychedelic and spiritual music, which has Arthur Brown going where no one else dared to go, or could. This is worlds away from 'Fire'. The combination of synthesiser, drum machine and guitar create a sound texture unheard-of before (remember, this was 1972).
One reason it sounds so different is that this is early 1970s progressive music recorded using technology that didn't become fashionable till ten years later - long after punk. So we have synthesiser and drum machine working alongside a bluesy guitarist and an almost spiritualist singer. Did I say `unique'? Bassist Phil Shutt does a terrific job holding it all together, and even gets to make a few flourishes of his own.
High spots are the sonic boogie of `Time Captives', which will sound familiar to Hawkwind fans, and the synthesised heavy rock groove of `Gypsy'. `Come Alive' alternates between brash electric noise and soothing, philosophical melody, all over an unyielding electronic beat. Only `Superficial Roadblocks' is uncomfortable, with its overwrought heavenly choir.
It's definitely one for the psychedelic fans, but it will appeal to many more with daring minds. Oh, and it's a good listen as well.
on 1 July 2014
Bought Journey to complete my Kingdom Come collection, I have to say its my least favorite of the three. I had to have the COME ALIVE track, I think its one of Arthurs best vocal performances, but that damned drum machine!!! it really is awful. I know it was probably cutting edge at the time, but it really detracts from the music, and when you think how excellent a drummer Michael 'slim' Steer was, it really was a shame that he was replaced with 'ace bentley'.
This The Third Kingdom Come Lp is perhaps their finest, even if it was their first with new 'Drummer' Ace Bentley (an early drum machine, 'The Bentley Rhythm Ace’).
Arthur Brown is one of the most overlooked vocalist's in rock people tending to concent on his outrageous stage persona than on his great expressive voice.
'Journey' has all the elements of a great rock album, starting off with the tripped out Space Rock of the opening track ‘Time Captives’ that out Hawkwind’s Hawkwind at their own game.
The experimental, instrumental second track ‘Triangles’ uses only triangular guitar patterns that fascinated original producer Dennis Taylor before his own musical geometry had him jump ship to produce Dave Edmunds.
Both the epic ‘Gypsy’ and churchy sounding ‘Superficial Roadblocks’ contain fascinating vocal performances from Brown, further proof of just how good he is, while the electro ethnic drumbeat of the tribal ‘Conception’ is light years ahead of its time.
The ethnic spirit meets the galaxy on the melodic ‘Spirit Of Joy’, surly a missed chance of a hit single.
The shuffling chug of the original album’s closer again contains a priceless vocal from Brown and a masterful guitar solo from Andy Dalby.
Kingdom Come split not long after this recording the nucleus of the band going on to play with Kiki Dee ?
This is a great recording now enhanced with alternate takes and a couple of BBC sessions. Buy it and see what you’ve been missing all these years.
on 30 March 2010
This classic Psych-Rock album has been PROPERLY REMASTERED and it sounds absolutely amazing!! I MEAN AWESOME!
This 2 x CD set means the album proper is presented with the ORIGINAL TRACKLISTING - the 'bonus' tracks are on a seperate cd - so you can hear it as it was meant to be heard, without having to program the cd player or skip the 'bonus' tracks every time, (I think these 'bonus' tracks almost always without exception ruin the original album).
This was the first album that I ever heard of Arthur's back in the days of vinyl and it completely blew me away back in the 80's. I'd never heard anything so POWERFULLY WIERD! The previous 'Voiceprint' CD version never measured up in sound quality or packaging - whereas this is TOTALLY SUPERB ON BOTH COUNTS! The booklet is lush and a pleasure to read (white text large enough to actually read on a black background with a couple of great pics too!
One real treat was one of the extra tracks on the cd2: 'Slow Rock' B side to 'Spirit of Joy' which I'd never heard before - NICE!
In summary: THIS FILLS MY SPIRIT WITH JOY!
After the disappointing Galatic Zoo Dossier dear old Arthur really hits the cosmic bullseye with a stunning album. Time Captives starts with haunting tones to turn into a real epic hawkwind style classic.Where does it end though as the spiritual overdrive clicks in with the masterful Triangles before we are treated to the best track and some riffs that you just play over and over again with Gypsy. All the tracks are absolutely top notch with Conception standing out and Come Alive being the most notable. Just put on some candles, open up the six pack, light a few incense sticks and drift away for 42 minutes of ectyasy. Buy it now buy it now buy it now etc.
on 13 July 2010
A truly 'progressive' artist, Brown saw each album as a platform for change. Where the band's previous two releases were woozily unhinged experimental prog, this 1973 swansong gathers their creativity up into a determinedly focussed flight of space rock, combining classical a framework with guitars and electronica, and an unexpected star turn in the innovative (indeed first) application of a drum machine. The Bentley Rhythm Ace's mechanical pulse lies at the core of a trip taken ahead of its time, thudding in ominously to open proceedings with the dramatic 'Time Captives', gently underpinning an engaging stab at a pop single in 'Spirit Of Joy'. Recorded at Rockfield Studios, this time with Dave Edmunds on production and the door to the medicine cupboard locked, Kingdom Come, with Brown in fine voice, forged a benchmark moment in music: twisting, flexing, changing, progressing - journeying. This remastered reissue, expanded to two discs with singles and BBC sessions, lays out a compelling story.
on 14 March 2016
Had this on vinyl way back in the day. It's a flawed masterpiece - but then a lot of the best albums are. Grief, what you could do with this today if you had the multi-track master... chuck it into your computer and spend a few weeks editing and mixing. So, one has to remember that this was made in 1973 before all the fancy audio tech we have to play with now.
As an aside - this is *the* first album to have a drum machine play all of the rhythm parts. The machine in question was call a "Bentley Rhythm Ace" and was made by the company that became the giant Roland Corporation - in many ways the Ace was the forerunner to the 808 and 909 drum machines that have dominated the electro house / acid /edm scene since the mid 80's to the present. It was pretty primitive though!
Some of the themes definitely got 'nicked' by Hawkwind.
Your not here for a music history lesson ..... :)
So, hey, as it stands, it has some brilliant moments and Arthur Browns voice is in superb form. Some of the motifs encased in this release are proper 'ear worms'.