Band members Related acts
- Bobby Brown -- vocals, multi-instrumentalist
- none known
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: The Enlightening Beam of Axonda
Catalog: DR 4002
Country/State: Sacramento, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 6060
Bobby Brown stands as a shining example of a California musical eccentric. By the way, that's meant as a heartfelt compliment, rather than a slam.
Born and raised in Sacramento, California, by the early 1970s Brown was making a living as a one man band, playing up and down the California coast. As shown on the front cover, his act included an impressive home-made rig that contained some 50 instruments that were placed on racks that could be easily loaded and unloaded from a van. Brown would apparently cruise up and down the coast, stopping to play concerts for folks, selling copies of his albums from the back of his van.
So what's Brown's 1972 self-produced debut sound like? Well, as you probably guessed from the title, "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda" is pretty spacey, but in a surprisingly laidback and agreeable fashion. Brown had a nice voice (technically I think he'd be called a basso-profundo), that lent itself well to atmospheric tracks such as 'I Must Be Born', 'My Hawaiian Home' and 'Mama Knows Boys a Rambler'. (Brown's liner notes claimed he had a six octave range.) Lyrically Brown's hippy-dippy lyrics were pretty hysterical (here's brief quote from the liner notes: "an original contribution to the field of religion and science based on physics - to my knowledge not yet discovered by other humanoids-more revolutionary that Einsteins (sic) revelations or Newtonian physics - the application of this physics will perhaps (in fact) lead to the most significant changes in the history of humanity (plus total religious unity)." Complete with between-the-songs narratives, the album almost qualifies as a concept piece with a plotline apparently having to do with Brown's search for fulfillment, though I'm not quite sure how the space aliens and space travel fit into the storyline (?), That said, be warned that nothing here exactly rocks. Most of the ten tracks are quite melodic, tough in a new age kind of way. In fact, stuff such as 'Tiny Wind of Shanol' and 'Axonda' would be right at home playing as background music in something like the Nature Store. There are a couple of exceptions. 'Mamba Che Chay' was pretty experimental and did little for my ears, while 'Preparation Dimension of Heaven' sounded like a bad lounge act effort. Still, the set's goofy enough to be intriguing.
This is apparently one of the earlier pressing. You can tell by the back cover which says additional copies of the LP are available for $5.00. The more recent the pressing, the more expensive the cost. Hey, he was available for parties, weddings and concerts - call 1 916 372 3176 (seriously, the phone number is 30 years old so don't try it ...)
Seeing Brown live must have been quite an experience. I can only wonder how his eccentric catalog would have gone over with a beach crowd. Anyone out there ever see him in person?
1.) I Must Be Born (Bobby Brown) -
George Winston: "Axonda is one of two of my all time favorite albums". Mutant Sounds: "Axonda is the Holy Grail of rare psych albums". Carol Kleyn (harpist/singer-songwriter): "Bobby's concerts put me in touch with the highest spiritual energy I've ever felt. (Before I heard him sing) I never thought a six-octave vocal range was possible. (Having watched his physics prophesies come true I think he could be called) the Stephen Hawkins of music. I Must Be Born (Next Physics Introduced) - YouTube
2.) My Hawaiian Home (Bobby Brown) -
MY HAWAIIAN HOME , from The Enlightening Beam Of Axonda Album this video was produced directed an edited by Bobby filmed in many countries. Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys said the Axonda album is" a first the, only thing new https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_M-SQyQLLU&t=11s
3.) Mama Knows Boys a Rambler (Bobby Brown) -
4.) Mamba Che Chay (Bobby Brown) -
5.) Oneness with the Forest (Bobby Brown) -
1.) Tiny Wind of Shanol (Bobby Brown) -
2.) Brat (Bobby Brown) -
3.) Axonda (Bobby Brown) -
4.) Going On Through (Bobby Brown) -
5.) Preparation Dimension of Heaven (Bobby Brown) -
In 2015 Brown set up a YouTube channel and posted a series of four music videos for updated versions of previously released songs including 'My Hawaiian Home.' He posted a couple of brief comments and that was apparently the end of the project. Here's a link to the site: Bobby Frank Brown - YouTube
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Country/State: Sacramento, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: writing on back cover
Catalog ID: 6061
Selected as the
opening act for a Fleetwood Mac/Kenny Loggins concert at the University of
California Berkley, Brown originally planned to release the results as a
live set. Unhappy with the resulting tapes (the crowd noises were apparently
distracting), he piled his recording equipment into a van, drove to a local
beach and recorded nine tracks in front of a curious and somewhat mystified
crowd consisting of his dog (named 'Mom'). The photos on the LP back
cover were apparently from the Fleetwood Mac show. Released in 1978, "Live"
wasn't half bad. Recorded without postproduction adornment you had to admit
the guy had a great voice. Sure, as a one man band the sound was
occasionally a bit thin, but you had to admire Brown's earnestness. As
an example, 'Hawaii' and
'Mother Nature We're Guilty' clearly reflected some of his deep seated ecological
concerns - still a rare public stance in the late-'70s. Elsewhere dog lovers were bound to
get a kick out of 'My Dog Is Every Bit As Good As Me'. On the negative
across two sides, the material started to sound alike and Brown had an
irritating habit of stretching his voice into some uncomfortable places. Check out the bizarre performance
on 'Motherless Child'.' Still, for a vanity project it
wasn't bad. Like the debut album, most of these poor quality private press
albums were sold at Brown's shows. By the way, you could order additional copies at $6.35 a pop -
not a bad deal, though the price has subsequently gone up.
1.) Hawaii (Bobby Brown) - 10:31 rating: *** stars
first time I heard 'Hawaii' I recall wondering if I had screwed up the speed
on my turntable. Luckily the track quickly shifted into a pleasant
melody that showcased Brown's sweet and versatile voice. The sound was
surprisingly full for a one man band and the low-fi self production.
Wonder if Fleetwood Mac would have sounded as good if they'd recorded
themselves out of the back of a van ... Admittedly, stretching out
over ten minutes the tune eventually outstayed it's welcome. Docked a
star for not recognizing when it was time to go home.
getting sentimental - the love of his life. The ballad 'In Search of a
Dream' was a nice demonstration of his multi-octave voice (It got a little
uncomfortable in the higher ranges), but the song never really developed
into anything impressive.
opening tribal dreams have always reminded me of Fleetwood Mac's
'Tusk.' I'm sure that's just a coincidence. 'Let Me On Board'
was just Brown seemingly trotting out his best Elvis impression and
percussion. Beats me ...
Dedicated to his dog 'Mom', Brown was clearly a big advocated for animals. And here's where the first feeling of "sameness" started to set in and it dawned on me there really wasn't a strong melody on any of these tunes; just kind of a pleasant droning.
1.) The Waterfall of Love (Bobby Brown) - 9:25 rating: *** stars
opening monologue has largely eluded me (something about Brown's love for
the wilderness I think(, but once the song started 'The Waterfall of Love'
offered up a weird mash-up of a Krautrock synthesizer riff, Brown's
Elvis-as-a-hippy voice and those weird environmental lyrics. I
actually liked this one quite a bit, but like the opener 'Hawaii' it
ultimately was too long. The extended early synthesizer solo wasn't
too lazy to slow down the track and transcribe Brown's introductory comments
- something about the kind of a union between music and spirituality when he
plays with his eyes closed. The echo effect on his voice was irksome,
but the strumming melody was pretty.
try to understand all the words ..."
Hardly a shocker. Still it wasn't hard to figure out the theme of 'Mother Nature We're Guilty.'
Darn if this didn't sound like something he'd already played, but it had a
ragged rhythm and there was something charming hearing the cheesy
Dedicated to Brown's late friend Ed Hass ... 'Motherless Child' was unlike anything else you've ever heard. Imagine an anguished cross between a banshee and an animal with its foot caught in a trap ... OMG !!! This was a song to clear out a party.
And sure enough, someone stumbled on to my small write-up and actually saw the man !!! Thanks for the description Ms. Conboy ...
I unearthed my old vinyl and found a Bobby Brown "Live" record I bought in 1978 from Bobby. I did a search and came across your site. I had no idea that one of his records was re-released a few years ago, yet there seems to be no indication of his whereabouts. I hung onto the record thinking he probably came and went.
Anyway you asked if anyone saw him live. I saw him perform, I believe at a swap meet in La Mirada, California and he was quite amazing. I was very into playing guitar at the time and he was playing this funny musical contraption much like the photo on the right back side of his album. Getting this amazing sound, and his vocals were interesting. I just put the record on the other day and now after having worked with several Hawaiian and world musicians, as I used to publicize a Hawaiian festival, I really understand what he's doing. At the time I was just amazed by the sound he was getting. It was also unique to be able to, back then, actually buy a record from a musician who wasn't well known, what we now know as "indie." So, that was a plus to be able to buy his record from him, that he signed for me. For some reason I thought he was blind, or he just closed his eyes as if in trance when he performed. Differently than just someone singing while they were stoned.
So, just thought I'd share that.
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Prayers of a One Man Band
Country/State: Sacramento, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5546
Perhaps because they were recorded in the
mid-1970s, the first two Bobby Brown albums are the ones that seem to get all of the attention and
coverage. (No I'm not talking about the late Whitney Houston's former
husband.) That's unfortunate since 1982's "Prayers
of a One Man Band" may be the best and most enjoyable
of Brown's three albums. Like the others, this was a one man project with
Brown responsible for writing, performing and producing all twelve tracks.
It was also released on his own Destiny label with most copies being sold at
his impromptu performances. In addition to a priceless picture of
Brown's homegrown multi-instrumental contraption, his considerable charms
including a multi-octave voice, a knack for penning catchy (if goofy) songs
(check out 'The Boy a Sailor' and 'Hawaii Net I'll Miss You'), and a likeable
counter-cultural outlook on life, were all on display. Musically the
set sounded a little fuller and more sophisticated than the two earlier
releases. Perhaps that was a reflection of the fact it was recorded across nine
separate studios. The other difference I detected is Brown's mix of
personal insight and social and political commentary shifted towards a more
activist stance including commentary on animal rights ('If the Angels Cry'),
environmentalism ('Sweet Clean Air'), and social and political issues. His
voice certainly remained an amazing instrument, capable of replicating Beach
Boys-styled harmonies and even turning in a wild Tony Joe White swamp rock
segment (check out 'Jungle Cowboy'). That said, the set noticeably sags
across the first half of side two. Still, the entire album was strange enough to be
interesting to more than hardcore collectors.. Besides, how could you not get a charge
out of somebody who was willing to dedicate an album to:
"To the people that watched me ad-lib these songs into their shape on the street corners of the world, a lot of your energy went into helping me select and refine my music and message. To say something that tries to improve the condition of our world may come off as sounding preachy, but if the magic and your love can be found in my attempt, it comes off as right by me. Thanks for thousands of perfect moments."
"Prayers of a One Man Band" track listing:
1.) The Boy a Sailor (Bobby Brown) - 3:11 rating: **** stars
I'm a product of the late '70s and the breezy opener 'The Boy of a Sailor' captures that timeframe in my mind. Showcasing Brown's surprisingly impressive voice and weird new-age instrumentation, the song fell somewhere on the musical spectrum between Merrell Fankhauser and one of those MOR act that might have appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, or the Dinah Shore Show. Yeah, with a nice, hummable melody, your grandma would probably dig this one.
2.) Steamboat Mama (Bobby Brown) - 2:50 rating: **** stars
Every time I hear Brown's growling spoken word intro, 'Steamboat Mama' reminds me of the late Tony Joe White. And then the song heads of into Lindsey Buckingham at-his-strangest territory. Complete with country-hoedown influences, falsetto shrieks and a pro-environmental wink, luckily I like Buckingham, so this one scored pretty high on my scale. In 2015 Brown set up a YouTube channel and posted a series of four music videos for updated versions of a couple of previously released songs including 'Steamboat Mama.' He posted a couple of brief comments to some of the videos and that was apparently the end of the project. Here's what he had to say for this tune: "Women can do so much now to bring peace to our troubled world and hopefully not follow mistakes made by men. Are they up to it?" And here's the link to the video: Steamboat Mama (Use Growing Power For Peace) - YouTube
3.) Sail On (Bobby Brown) - 3:02 rating: **** stars
I'll admit the ballad 'Sail On' didn't initially register with me, but after a couple of spins I found the darn thing bouncing around my mental playlist. Elvis-meets-the-Beach Boys ...
4.) Lady Tennessee (Bobby Brown) - 3:00 rating: * star
Brown trotting out his worst "Elvis the lounge act" moves. 'Lady Tennessee" was the album's first mis-step. Sounding like he was singing with marbles in his cheeks, this one was a real stinker.
5.) Jungle Cowboy (Bobby Brown) - 3:10 rating: ** stars
'Jungle Cowboy' was a return Tony Joe White for the opener with a return to Buckingham-styled goofiness. The lyrics were totally strange, though lines like "lady all over your body I wanna run little electric cars/and where you're the most nasty//the most filthy/I wanna give you something hotdoodle whomp bomp"
6.) Hawaii Nei I'll Miss You (Bobby Brown) - 3:40 rating: **** stars
The slinky ballad 'Hawaii Nei I'll Miss You' was another track that just kind of snuck up on you and wouldn't leave. This was another of the four updated songs and videos Brown posted to Facebook. Here are his comments on the song:"The Axonda album had about 50 homemade instruments then i created many more for the Live, and Prayers of a One Man Band Album. Hawaii Nei song is from the Prayers studio album. Some critics used the words incredible voice, an the voice an ability to pioneer a one man orchestra were sometimes called a phenomenon." And here's a link to the YouTube video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_M-SQyQLLU Admittedly the "messages" were a little out there - I won't even take a guess at the "Kid's Prophecies Revolutionizing Physics" segment. That said, the phot of Brown playing a recorder for a Buffalo was hysterical (and probably not safe).
1.) The Peaceful Ko'olaus (Bobby Brown) - 2:56 rating: ** stars
Unfortunately lounge act Elvis reappears on the ballad 'The Peaceful Ko'olaus'. Brown manages to turn out some strange sounds on his oddball instrument.
2.) My Dog the Outlaw (Bobby Brown) - 3:19 rating: *** stars
One of the stranger songs on the album ... I kept waiting for the tune to actually take off, but it never shifted gears, though Brown's vocals got increasingly anxious. I'm guessing the title referred to the dog that appeared on the cover of "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda".
3.) If the Angels Cry (Bobby Brown) - 3:12 rating: *** stars
Hum, based on the introductory spoken word section, Brown has been quite attached to his recently deceased dog. Nice song to hear the range Brown had ...
4.) Sweet Clean Air (Bobby Brown) - 3:52 rating: *** stars
Hum, based on the introductory spoken word section, Brown has bee
The intro wasn't the most subtle dig at the car industry you've ever heard, but probably wasn't that far off target. Shame the song wasn't as much fun as the intro, though I'll give Brown an extra star for having his heart in the right spot.
5.) I'm Believe (Bobby Brown) - 2:58 rating: **** stars
Hum, let's mix in a few African rhythms and see what happens ... Well, it served to wake you up after a couple of plodding tunes.
6.) Cry of the Wild (Bobby Brown) - 2:44 rating: **** stars
'Cry of the Wild' brought all of Brown's strengths together - nice, bouncy melody; quirky sound scapes; and that freaky, incredible versatile voice. One of the album standouts.
Brown is living in Reno, Nevada and still touring. Witness this YouTube clip, Brown was still performing as recently as September 2015. YouTube has a couple of clips from an appearance at Copenhagen's Festival of Endless Gratitude. Yeah, he's a little disjointed, his voice a little rawer than in his youth, but he remains pretty with it and dedicated to his beliefs... Also and the man still looks great for his age.
We feel this is an essential piece of music. This “Prayers Of A One Man Band” album is unlike any other in regards to scope & originality (except for his first Axonda album). Both produced an recorded entirely by Bobby. Now known as Bobby Frank Brown. His solo style of playing his many invented home made instruments, many at the same time, has been witnessed all over the world. From the first ever performance by anyone allowed to play Red Square in Russia, to historic performances in China an Eastern Europe. Some of his musical inventions an solo style have influenced the evolution of music. His first the classic “The Enlightening Beam Of Axonda” album was called " a first an the only thing new" by Beach Boys Carl Wilson. Kenny Loggins said of his live performance “It’s the most incredible thing I ever saw”. George Winston said: " Axonda is one of two of my all time favorite albums". Yet many prefer this “Prayers” album. "Singer Harpist Carol Kleyn calls him “The Stephen Hawking’s of music” because of his many predictions of a coming new physics that are finally starting to be accepted, an the tech that will enlighten us an solve many world problems. Carol also said "Before I saw Bobby sing I never thought a 6 octave vocal range was possible. Partners Dan Wiener an Mike North two of the top agents were on his side. Mike said “if they are a superstar, most likely I’ve booked them. I’ve seen them all. Bobby has the most talent I’ve ever seen”.
Axonda was filled with prophecy and is regarded by several artists as the first pioneering healing album. For his second album Live he totally rebuilt dozens of his instruments to be more portable an opened one time for Fleetwood Mac. This his third album is filled with joy an a big addition to his 7 album conceptual series. He has never joined a label even though he had certain record deals with Warner Bros an Electra if he stayed in Los Angeles. He chose to travel freely living with people that discovered his music while playing the street. He loved that life living with Gypsies and Aborigines an with many that bought his albums as he rambled. Thirty years living this blessed life style went by so fast. Now we are glad to be able to get his music out through the normal channels. His HoboAngelMutt label will also feature Artists he met on his travels. With nearly 300 comedic voices he hopes to make stories of his travels an music an prophecy into feature films - complete with angelic super heroes. This album is a significant part of that dream.
Light In The Attic is distributing another album that played a part in the evolution of music. Bobby Frank Brown Live Divinity And Dignity Of All Life is his second recording. It followed his legendary The Enlightening Beam Of Axonda which is considered by many as the holy grail of rare psych albums. To be more portable he rebuilt most of the 50 or so pioneering instruments he used for Axonda. His first performance with his new instruments at UC Davis went amazingly well. David Dowd wrote A one man phenomenon with an incredible voice.. Another article in that university paper said the Axonda album told its truths better than wading through volumes of Plato Kant and Shopenhauer. With his new smaller creations he decided to put off going back to LA and a certain major record deal. He started playing flea markets and selling his albums. That worked super an he loved the freedom. It was the beginning of one of the first successful Indie labels. One reason he left LA David Geffen put Bobbys manager Chuck Plotkin as head A&R of Asylum Records. Bobby wanted to get back with Chuck when the time was right. Chuck produced Springsteen projects then Dylan an then several top film scores. Bobby just loved traveling playing street music hitch hiking and living like a hobo. Sometimes sleeping in bushes but mostly staying with people that bought his albums. His first paid singing job was in Haiti. Also he worked as a first mate sailing the Caribbean. Bobby wants to co-produce a Rock album with Chuck some day.This Live album he used instruments he played in the South Pacific. He opened a Fleetwood Mac and Kenny Logins concert in the stadium at UC Santa Barbara. For this Live album to get a high quality sound he decided to record those songs in his van with just his dog for an audience. He could have used the first high quality loop pedal built for him by Ed Haas. But as he did in the last half of the Axonda album it was hands an feet a goin. At that stadium concert when he turned on his pioneering deep base electronic beats the crowd let out a big whoa. Those electronic rhythms are very common in music now. On albums 4-7 he will play his many percussion instruments over them. Larry Finley master drummer said Bobby has incredible rhythm its uncanny. He used that to win many dance contests up and down California Wolfman Jack judged one in Hollywood an likely would have helped Bobby ounce signed to a record label. Where ever he played looking at comments by some people that saw him live they felt love an great affection for hime. Even with his new smaller set of instruments on this Live album. Seeing Axonda live was a very deep spiritual experience for many. His new physics ideas were totally new. After a performance at The Troubador Chuck Plotkin pointed out They didnt understand the words but what they loved what they related to was the vibe. The Axonda album is considered by many as the first pioneering recording for new age healing music. This Live album his second could fit right in at a rock country or folk concert. Especially at earth day concerts. Bobby ad libs a lot an jazz audiences would love it. Actually because of the creativity an immense talent he would likely go over very well with most any audience even in church.Did Bobby influence many musicians to play with electronic sounds oh yea And world music got a boost from his altered home made musical instruments and the unique way he played them. These songs are about his immense love of animals an peace with comments to preserve the environment. Many environmental concerns expressed in music back then were a bit of a rarity. He traveled the US in a van with his dog. He loved his dog dearly. He called her mom since the time she had puppies in his van. One song about his little friend is an instrumental in a classical music style. Utilizing a computer in a new way being able to expand his reach as a one man orchestra.Bette-Joan Rac acclaimed classical pianist now teaching performance an musical history through the University of Toronto Royal Academy of Music is finishing a book. In The da Vinci Of Our Time she says I felt Bobby should be known as classical musics 5th B. I was very glad Ed Pinset of Londons Sound Projector Magazine picked him as one of the 4 American Monster Geniuses Of Avant-Garde Music. On the front cover of the book Valis Rolling Stone Magazine said Philip K. Dick is THE MOST BRILLIANT SF MIND ON ANY PLANET. Some are blogging Bobbys 1972 Axonda album is exactly like Valis which was published in 1981. Actually Bobby had predicted much of it as a boy an went far beyond Valis. Brown even predicted what the next physics will be an how it will produce The Enlightening beam Of Axonda. I think hes one of the most important musicians and visionary thinkers of today.
A generation before New Edition hit the scene and one of its members went solo with a hit called "My Perogative," there was another recording artist named Bobby Brown who came from a whole different school of thought. For obvious reasons, he now includes his middle name. Bobby Frank Brown, a psychedelic-spiritual one-man band, has garnered praise from the likes of Kenny Loggins, George Winston, Ram Dass, and Allen Ginsberg, and is somebody I never thought I would be able to get in touch with. His debut masterpiece "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda" (1970) is a sonic anomaly that captures the sound of an innovative solo performer, using oscillators, hand percussion, primitive drum machines, zithers, electrified droning metal pipes, and a six-octave vocal range he is not shy to demonstrate. He traveled all over, living out of his van-cum-soundsystem, and sold thousands of his self-released records and 8-tracks to passers by over the course of his heyday. I managed to track him down on the phone in Reno, NV for an interview, following a panel discussion with Jaysen Lee Peters and engineer Miles Rozatti, and he told us about his participation in the Mexico City Olympics, opening for Fleetwood Mac, his concept for a massive anthology, and why he wants to start a new religion. It's never a dull moment with Bobby.
Recommendations: For the first time ever, Bobby's haunting debut "The Enlightening Beam of Axonda" is available as a vinyl reissue. You can get yours from Light in the Attic while supplies last, click the image for the link.
bobby axonda.jpg Bobby's most recent available work, 1982's "Prayers of a One Man Band," is another masterpiece in its own right. Its playful synth motifs often remind me of Martin Rev's work in the band Suicide, while the desperation in the vocals brings to mind Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska record, but this music is unlike anything else ever heard. You can buy it here via Light in the Attic. Click the image to visit their site.
bobby prayers.jpg Here is a video he made for a song from that album, "Hawaii Nei I'll Miss You," sprinkled with overlapping texts of his spiritual musing
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