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Brand X - Unorthodox Behaviour CD (album) cover

UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOUR

Brand X

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.11 | 227 ratings

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JackFloyd
4 stars Phil Collins's commercial peak may have been 1981-1989, but his artistic peak was certainly during 1971-1980, and his Brand X work may change a few minds to this fact.

Before Collins joined Brand X by the end of 1975, they were just an average group of relatively unknown session musicians playing simple pop music, but as their former drummer and singer left, they would transform themselves into a powerful fusion band.

Morrocan Roll is better-known, but Unorthodox Behaviour is their debut and my personal favourite. It may be less varied and ecletic than it's successor, but the sound is meaner, heavier and the material is very well-crafted and rarely borders on filler, perhaps it's because they're just a quartet here (not counting guest Jack Lancaster) and perhaps it's because they just wanted a record featuring the essential elements only.

"Nuclear Burn" is a fun track featuring some superb fretless bass by Percy Jones and a sweet synth solo by Robin Lumley; "Euthanasia Waltz" is a charming number embellished by Collins's exquisite vibraphones and John Goodsall's strumming; "Born Ugly" contains one of the best and most effective musical jokes I've ever heard and a pretty good improv as it's ending; "Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria" (my favourite tune of the album) is not very talked about, but it's catchy riff is well worth the attention, also worthy of note is the sudden twist leading to a scary coda; "Unorthodox Behaviour" is another musical joke but longer and more subtle, repetitive but never boring, there's just so much stuff going on you'll never even feel time has passed; "Running On Three" is the closest Brand X ever got to a powerful rocker, and Goodsall's guitar solo (his only in the whole record) pressages the near-lightning speed finger movements that will dominate, and some would ever say plague, their next releases; the last tune, "Touch Wood" is a sorta divided into two parts: the first is a relaxing improv featuring processed sax by Jack Lancaster, the second is a groovy jam including heavy brushing courtesy of Collins, ending a heavy album in a surprising, if not strangely, soft manner.

And while the future of Genesis seemed a bit unsure, Phil still worked as an independent musician, appearing not only with Brand X, but also on Steve Hackett's "Voyage Of The Acolyte" and Anthony Phillips's "The Geese And The Ghost" during the same timespan. All of it would be enough to put him as one of the most famous proggers of all time if it wasn't for the stuff he did later. But it is really enough to place as one of prog's most hard-working artists and best drummers.

As for Brand X, it was the real start of my favourite jazz fusion band, and from now on, they would begin to release some great stuff and some fairly predictable things, but enough to allow much more recognition than they actually have.

JackFloyd | 4/5 |

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