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Brand X

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.25 | 84 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars The return of Collins and Lumley?. Was not necessarily a good thing, even if Masques showed the band's weaknesses, not that much in the songwriting, but in the waning inspiration of the collective soul of the group. If Lumley is back, Robinson that had replaced him is still there as well. While C & L play in six of the 9 tracks, there are two different drummers (Clarke >> Hancock's Head Hunters), but also Jones shares bass duty with John Giblin (with whom Collins work with on the John Martyn early 80's albums, but also plays in Peter Gabriel's solo efforts), thus creating a schizophrenic group, and the resulting album being just as weak (all things staying relative of course) as Masques was. A very ugly collage serves as artwork for an album that in some ways is very aptly titled.

Right from the first few seconds of the opening Don't Make Waves, we know we're in trouble when Phil starts singing? Nothing really all that catastrophic though, as the music behind Collins' Duke/Abacab-era vocals is still fairly impressive, a technical high-powered jazz-rock ala Colosseum II - I'm thinking of Strange New Flesh, here. Another sung track, Soho would fit on Collins' solo albums better than on a Brand X album and it definitely ruins the album. A bit further down the album, Giblin obviously heard the first Metheny albums as Rhesus Perplexus could easily come from Pat's repertoire. The double bass track proves the drop that overflowed the bucket?. a bassist diet

On the more instrumental and less "commercial" side, Illegal Aliens is a Jones-penned track where he over-exposes his bass, a bit the same Pastorius would, with all the excesses and disservices to the music. The second half of the track is much more balanced track, though. Not Good Enough is a cold over-calculated fusion piece where Jones is taking too much space (he's the writer, though) and if the musicianship is impressive, the lack of soul is also. The Lumley-penned Algon is probably the best track of the album along with Collins' And So to F---, both hot fusion pieces that hover around the best Santana stuff (Caravanserai) and RTF (warrior), while the album closes on the barely existing April

Definitely not BX's best album, it does have its moments beyond the useless virtuoso playing and the awful commercial tracks. The waning inspiration impression I had with Masque is only enhanced with this one and one can only think of the repeated formulae this album is delivering us, redundancy being the next step. Only the sheer and excellent musicianship and some bright moments stop me from rating this lower than the three stars

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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