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Brand X iTunes Tracks

Brand X

Formed 1975 in London as an extracurricular jazz-fusion excursion for PHIL COLLINS of GENESIS, the dexterous BRAND X were not exactly the exclusive property of the drummer/percussionist, rather a side-line for other seasoned session musicians such as fretless bassist Percy Jones (ex-Liverpool Scene), guitarist John Goodsall (ex-ATOMIC ROOSTER) and keyboardist Robin Lumley.
Inspired by WEATHER REPORT, The MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and RETURN TO FOREVER (and the alumni within), BRAND X served up their debut platter UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOUR (1976) {*7} at a time when the music climes were in disarray and transition. With tight rhythmic precision and touches of solo brilliance, all took a hand in bringing in cool-hand math-rock to the fore; best tunes coming from `Running On Three’, `Nuclear Burn’ and the title track.
And then there was five; percussionist Morris Pert (a Scotsman from the ranks of STOMU YAMASHTA) adding yet another dynamic dimension to the group’s individually-scribed instrumental soundscapes on UK Top 40 follow-up MOROCCAN ROLL (1977) {*6}. Tinges of Eastern textures and softer horizontal siroccos balanced their otherwise sonic approach on the unrelenting dirges of COLLINS’ `Why Should I Lend You Mine…’ or the almost equally lengthy `Disco Suicide’ (one of two composed by Lumley) and `Malaga Virgen’ (ditto the funk-fuelled Jones).
Partly recorded in concert at venues Hammersmith Odeon or London’s Marquee Club, LIVESTOCK (1977) {*6} completed a triumvirate of respectable albums, the highlights here were opener `Nightmare Patrol’ and `-Ish’. It was clear why Melody Maker mag-rag made them Top Jazz Rock Band from 1977 to 1980, even without COLLINS who’d returned to more commercially-favourable climes in GENESIS.
Enlisting replacement sticksman Chuck Burgi and equally talented keyboard player Peter Robinson (Kenwood Dennard had contributed on their previous LP), MASQUES (1978) {*5} was as challenging as it was enterprising; Pert was afforded almost half the set/three from seven including the spicy and sprightly `Deadly Nightshade’.
Not only back on the drums for PRODUCT (1979) {*4}, but adding his considerable vocal talents (on Goodsall’s opener `Don’t Make Waves’ and the combined `Soho’), PHIL COLLINS was also joined by the rhythm team of John Giblin and Mike Clarke, who’d stepped in for Burgi. Complex and frenzied on too many occasions, with members virtually sparring for positions, there was little else to inspire jazz-fusion buffs with the exception of possibly Phil’s `And So To F…’ – a well said description of the set.
Goodsall and Jones (with only cameos from Lumley, Collins, Robinson, Clarke and Giblin – but no Pert) carried on regardless for a couple of further prime examples of self-indulgent post-prog jazz-rock by way of DO THEY HURT? (1980) {*3} and IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT? (1982) {*5}; the latter seeing the addition of synth-man Stephen Short.
But that just about wrapped it all up for the old BRAND X, a legend in jazz-rock circles for some, an extension of the 70s for others. However, the story was further promoted when Messrs Goodsall and Jones (plus drummer Frank Katz and later vibes man Marc Wagnon) delivered an addendum to their careers courtesy of the bog-standard XCOMMUNICATION (1992) {*3} and MANIFEST DESTINY (1997) {*2}. 1997 saw it all come to an end, BRAND X consumers relying on greater products in a raft of “best of” and “live” collections.
© MC Strong 1994-1997/GRD // rev-up MCS Dec2011

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