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Brand X - Morrocan Roll CD (album) cover

MORROCAN ROLL

Brand X

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.07 | 167 ratings

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NetsNJFan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars

It's been a while..11/16/05

I'll admit jazz-fusion doesn't thrill me; usually it sounds forced, stilted and just plain boring. I expected more of the same formless 'noodling' when I tried BRAND X, and I was pleasantly surprised with the energy of this album. Unlike most heavily improvised fusion, for the most part this album is heavily composed, perfectly detailed.

First of all, it should be known BRAND X is a bit of a super-group in my opinion, with some fantastic, though mostly unknown musicians at its helm. PHIL COLLINS is the only real 'star' of the band, but each musician is brilliant at his post.

Keeping true with its name, MORROCAN ROLL (.get it?), the album begins with a heavily middle-eastern tinged track [The Sun in the Night], with some pleasant sitar and great, spacey vocals from Collins; overall a really strong and unexpected song. The fact that BRAND X is willing to go off the beaten track makes them one of the most interesting British fusion bands. The next tracks, [Why Should I Lend You Mine.Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After all], are the weakest on the album. These Collins penned tracks, and are somewhat lethargic, opting for atmosphere, and slow sonic exploration of flash. Lumley provides some enjoyable keyboards, but on the whole BRAND X could do much better, in much shorter time. The album really begins to pick up steam, however, with John Goodsall's [guitar] "Hate Zone", one of the album's strongest pieces. It features some excellent dual percussion by Collins/Morris Pert as well as the funkiest bass lines BRAND X ever laid. It shows more enthusiasm then usual for them. This track really shows how jazz-fusion should be done, tasteful and engaging composition, not blinding technique displays. This track also has some Middle Eastern hints, though not as overtly as "The Sun in the Night".

"Collapsar" is a pleasant, though unnecessary Lumley track which some spacey keys. It does provide a nice, easy let down from the frantic "Hate Zone", though. Lumley is a winner however, with the captivating "Disco Suicide"; you have to love it just for the title. This track probably displays the all around talents of the members better than any other. Jones's fretless bass is nice and thick on this track, a highlight. Lumley's acoustic keyboard, is understated, but beautiful, and provides a nice respite from the more electric chaos around it. "Orbits" is another nice, though unnecessary track in the vein of "Collapsar", this time by Jones. It serves an indulgent showcase for bass work, which I'll admit is underrated and smooth, but still an unnecessary song. From this point on, the album is pretty much flawless. "Malaga Virgen" was a concert highlight, and is one of BRAND X's greatest tracks.ever. Once again we get some nice sitar work, and Jones is as dependable as ever on bass. This song is hard describe, other than its insistent rhythm, but it remains engaging throughout its eight minutes, which is a feat for fusion. "Macrocosm" is another stellar song on this album, a more typical, though fiery fusion track. It instantly reminded me of 'Return to Forever's' work, but better. Goodsall and Lumley deftly exchange smooth guitar and key solos, respectively. The 'everything but the kitchen sink ending' provides a great ending to a great album.

Overall, I'd call this a great album. An improvement over their debut, ["Unorthodox Behaviour (1976)"]; exchanging its dense, free form, inaccessible jam tracks for richly sculpted fusion compositions. The addition of Pert on percussion only strengthens the band further, now boasting five virtuoso musicians. Probably my favorite fusion recording, discounting the unmatchable jazz albums of Frank Zappa, (i.e. Hot Rats).

Just a note, this music bears no resemblance to GENESIS.I first got into because of Collins, but its fusion all the way. Symphonic fans..try it - Give it some time, you'll probably like it!

For fusion/jazz rock fans: 5 STARS!!!

For everyone else: 4 Stars

I'm gonna have to go with 5 overall though..It's sooooo good.

-NetsNJFan

NetsNJFan | 5/5 |

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