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Brand X - Unorthodox Behaviour CD (album) cover


Brand X

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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5 stars Excellent jazz rock from this phil collins' side project. This is their first and their best, showing the great musicianship of collins on drums (just listen to the opening killer track, "nuclear burn"). Highly recommended.
Report this review (#23045)
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now this is Phil Collins at his best. It's unfortunate that this album didn't get more recognition. As a bass player, I was intregued by Percy Jones incredable frettless work that rivals many of the greats.
Report this review (#23046)
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

While Genesis was in a delicate phase, looking for a new frontman and its guitarist was releasing his first solo album (Acolyte), Phil was patiently waiting in the wings and became involved in this project, composed of absolute then-unknown, if it wasn't for maybe Goodsall, whom had a stint with Atomic Rooster. Phil Collins' participation in Brand X will actually play a role in Genesis, since his dabblings into JR/F will guide his choice into hiring both Chester Thompson (Zappa, Weather report) and a tad latter Daryl Struemer (Jean Luc Ponty's group). Obviously when listening to Phil drum works on BX and comparing it with Genesis material, it's quite clear that Phil listened and impregnated himself of Billy Cobham's Spectrum album.

Out of the mists of a post-modern world in Nuclear Burn, rises a guitar that has obviously been influenced by Carlos McLaughlin and the rest of the formation slowly rises from the ashes to become an instant success. Outstanding stuff. The first few seconds of Euthanasia Waltz are again reminiscent of Caravanserai, but Goodsall's acoustic strumming saves it and allow Lumley's Rhodes and Jones' ultra bass to shine. The following track's name the ultra-funky Born Ugly cannot possibly be talking about itself because it is one of the best electric piano-led funk-fusion pieces, courtesy of Lumley's Rhodes, but Goodsall's guitar does more than its share. It could've been an RTF track on their No Mystery album, Lumley's piano style certainly aiming at Corea's, while Jones's usual Jaco-esque game is replaced by a Stanley Clarke slapping play. Out of the deep vinyl groove, comes Euphoric Hysteria, which hesitates between Mahavishnu and Santana, before deciding neither with Lumley's disputable synth sound. The title track is slowly emerging a clock-like rhythm and a rounded bass and the two spend their time twisting about your eardrums and diddle with your sanity, slowly deconstructing its propos. Not exactly a winner, but it shows another facet of the group for albums to come. Running Of Three returns to the influence of Carlos McL and if it wasn't needlessly "flamboyant", you could imagine yourself on my jazz-rock reference Caravanserai. The short and soft Touch Wood is a calm ending to a fiery album: a fitting outro.

A classic fusion album of the times but the real interest is that, as opposed to contemporary groups such as Return To Forever, Spiro Gyra, Weather Report or even JL Ponty, this had a definitely English twist to it and it was a welcome change (just like the post-Allen Gong jazz-rock albums are) but this is not really Canterbury-style either although some people have done that amalgam. IMHO, however, the better times for this sort of music had already passed along with the 1st generation groups such as Mahavishnu, Miles Davis, Nucleus, Soft Machine, Mwandishi, etc.... But this one is definitely a gem.

Report this review (#23047)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Owl
4 stars A very promising debut from what started as a means for several London-based session musicians and one Phil Collins to blow off some creative steam. "Nuclear Burn" fires off the first salvo of insane tempos,intricate drumming and dense sonic atmospheres. My only complaint about this tune is that it needed more melodic development at the start, other than that a real barnburner. "Euthenasia Waltz" by stark contrast offers upa funky 6/8 groove and labguid acoustic guitar by Goodsall with Percy Jones stuttering madly underneath. "Born Ugly" kicks up the funk factor even more as Percy unleashes delightfully slithery fretless bass lines and the band gives it all they got. "Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria" is my favorite cut, with a great serpentine melody line from Goodsall and a cool Mahavishnu Orch.-esque arpeggiated ending with all kinds of cool spooky percussion noises (water gongs I believe). The title cut however doesn't really stick with me, very low key and not very memorable. HOwever, the lull is shattered by "Running ON Three" where everyone fires phrases back and forth and stays together at ridiculous speeds. The closer is the short "Touch Wood" featuring a rare appearance by Percy on acoustic bass and a gust spot by saxophonist Jack Lancaster. Not a bad closer but not a real strong one either. The next album > Moroccan Roll" would go light years further but this was certainly a great start all told.
Report this review (#23048)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the time, this band were known as 'the poor mans Weather Report',yet comparing the two now, in my opinion the'X''s beat Zowinul's lot hands down, if only on their percentage of good stuff per album and (relative) lack of padding.This release only just misses being their best by the fact that Percy is not yet playing his Wal. If you like Jazz/Rock, this record is a must!
Report this review (#23050)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the best of the Brand X's albums. Phil Collins (Mister 1976) is at his best, and when one says that he was one of the best drummers in the WORLD, the ultimate reference is on this VERY record! It contains outstanding impossible drums parts, especially on "Nuclear burn" and "Running of trees"! If you think Collins' best drums work is on Selling England by the pound, then you would easily change your mind at the listen of Unorthodox behaviour. If you said it is on Trick of the tail, then I think you would love the record here. At the same level & intensity as on "Los Endos", Collins here literally flies over everybody's heads. 1976 is the year of Phil Collins, no doubt!

Now let's talk about the album: it contains an absolutely mind blowing, ultra fast, loud and sophisticated Wal-like bass. The music is dangerously loaded and fast! There are some complex acoustic guitars (Touch wood), free style jazzy keyboards, tons of Fender Rhodes and gross electric guitar sounds without distortion: I do not like very much the guitar sound and the solos, despite the technical performance of the musician is outstanding: the rythmic guitar is better. There are some excellent xylophone parts ("Unorthodox behaviour"), and some surprisingly good piano notes ("Touch wood", "Born ugly"). This is an excellent fusion album. EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED!

Report this review (#23051)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars One thing must be clear to ALL: Phil Collins fame never helped other than him. That fame at the time of this album and of all Brand X in general was not acclaimed yet. Brand X are not a side project of Phil Collins: they are Percy Jones, John Goodsall, Robin Lumley, Peter Robinson and later John Giblin and some other. Phil Collins plays very well and often at his best on Brand X and i always loved his tune. At that time however the world could offer other 1000 Phil Collins to Brand X. On Masques album you can't feel the absence of Collins. Chuck Burgi with Morris Pert are magnific and more inside the project. Brand X albums are all underground recordings and they are miracles in the industry of music for their sounds. Try to take care of el. bass sound for Percy Jones at home....... Nuclear Burn is the best beginning of a career as 21st Century Schizoid Man made before it.
Report this review (#23055)
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Brand X, and in peculiar this release, got the public attention for its drummer. While when, Collins maybe didn't knew exactly upon wich seat he will definitely puts his ass on, but on "Unorthodox Behaviour", he does his best Billy Cobham incarnation. From a drummer point of view, it's a technically rewarding listen (and i assume it is likely the same with Jones, Lumley and Goodsall parts), but nothing very emotionaly essential to say the least.
Report this review (#23056)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love this album. I have listened to it over and over again. The tunes are great the time changes are great in fact its a must for any fan of fusion.

i have been asked to teach drumming on many an occasion and before i do i always say to listen to this cd. Phil rocks on this and the sound and feel of the drumming is one of the best ever. Immense rolls and mind blowing ride cymbal work .Quite simply one of the great drumming cd's ever..full stop....

Report this review (#23057)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unorthodox behaviour certainly changed the way I was looking at Phil Collins' drumwork. I am quite the appreciator of fusion, since it gets out the most of all the participators. Unorthodox Behaviour is a good example of what fusion is about. It contains 8 songs about the 6 minute mark, a bit short for prog standards(what are those anyway), but involving enough evolution and inspiring things fit in that time.

Nuclear Burn starts off almost Mahavishnu like, with dexterous drums(thanks for that term, up above) and agile basswork. Here we hear the true potential of Collins' work already. It surprised me, for his Genesis work was to be honest a bit too bland. After a while a fast guitar riff comes in, during which that amazing bassplayer gets out more notes per second than I'll ever will. I love that kind of virtuosity, even more so when it fits into the song. I do have a slight problem with this song; it repeats too much. After 4 minutes, I could have called it quits with the song.

Euthanasia Waltz is a more laidback song. Featuring acoustic guitars, this song is more about the melody. The keyboards do a great job on that one, it makes me forget about the void created by lack of a singer. After 3 and a half minutes, a basssolo picks up. Wonderful! I, as a bassplayer, love the sound of that instrument, going around the board.

Born Ugly is a more uptempo, almost R&B like song. It contains a catchy riff in the melody played on piano and guitar. Working together with their sound to create a nice second voice effect. All in whole Born Ugly is just a catchy song.

Smacks of Hysteric Euphoria is a bit of a letdown to me starting off with that great riff. Sadly, after that, the music slows down and goes into a laidback groove. I also can't stand the descending guitar riff on this one. The sound of that guitar compared to a descending tune is not nice to my ears. But I guess that is taste. The end of the song does something to make up for it: it creates an almost wavelike motion, something I tend to flow along with.

Unorthodox Behaviour(song) is perhaps the most proglike, experimenting with a quiet athmosphere, throwing in some experimental keyboard sounds and some percussion. Again, the bass shines, lightning fast but not out of the song.

Now Running of Three is what I'm talking about! Uptempo, great riff. Sadly, in this song I found the ugly guitar sound returning. I just can't stand it. It is true, however, that in this song the contrasting timesignatures played by the guitar/keyboard and the rythym section are intelligent. Luckily, after a while this guitar sound ends and a great bass riff takes up. The guitar solo played here does not sound so ugly, but I still find it a bit too ordinary for my taste. I am of course not disputing that the player is quite good.

Touch Wood is a nice ending to this album, sounding almost like Mahavishnu's Lotus on inner Streams at first. The quiet athmosphere give this album a nice finale, contrasting to the general mood of it all. A great idea to be honest.

All in all, Unorthodox Behaviour is a nice example of fusion jazz. Sadly, the two guitar parts I mentioned are grating to my ears, and some of the songs are a bit repetitive. However, this is contrasted by the virtuous playing by the bassist, drummer and keyboard player. It does not make up to be a Masterpiece or a classic, but I recommend anyone to have this album: it is still a very fine example of fusion.

Report this review (#23059)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Loaded and ready for take-off!

A stellar debut from what would become one of the most promising jazz-fusion bands from England, introducing a whole new and unique sound provided by guitarist John Goodsall's quirky compositions and Percy Jones's outstanding fretless bass playing. Phil Collins really got to show his chops on the drums here and compliments Jones masterfully, notably on the album opener "Nuclear Burn", a signature track in the band's discography. The music is groovy, very dynamic and playful all the way through and definitely the album for those who enjoy Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bill Bruford's solo work and so on (Bruford was involved with the band for a short time before his commitments with National Health and UK, but Collins style was better suited for this project if you ask me). 4.5/5

Report this review (#35701)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Unorthodox Behavior" is in line with many other top fusion albums in terms of the ever- present vituosity of its performers and the originality of the pieces. This album's enchantment is furthered by each of its track's slight mystiques as indicated by their sly titles. Very British sounding for its genre, Brand X manages to set a level of fusion that is sometimes more mellow, groove-laden approach slightly compartative to Weather Report and on a few occasions, brooding, raucous music similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra. Beyond that, Phil Collin's drum playing is overly impressive as well as John Goodsall's guitar playing. The inluences are obvious here (Corea/Return To Forever, Weather Report, and at times Mahavishnu) but the songs and style speak a bit differently than the others. This album is intricate, lush and definitely fun. A must for any fusion/jazz-rock fan. This album should not be too hard to find on cd or vinyl so i suggest you go to your local record store and find it.
Report this review (#42750)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars When it comes down to wide appealing consistency Brand X succeeded where other British jazz rock bands failed. Ian Carr struggled with the revolving band member door that was Nucleus as well as a bout of ill health somewhere in between, Gary Boyle's Isotope simply sucked, but Brand X had a chemistry and the added bonus of having Genesis drummer Phil Collins behind them. Collins was hardly the lead player in the band but his profile as both musician and a sometime producer was enough to help Brand X rise the ladder a few notches but regardless, Brand X were a group playing on the same page and possibly the most rewarding of all British fusion acts in terms of consistency in the music if never as free playing as Ian Carr's outfit Nucleus, but comparing both acts may be a little wide so I'll leave it at that. [i]Unorthodox Behaviour[/i] fits seamlessly into the swell of the jazz rock canon of the mid to late seventies. The album is smoothly produced, every instrument is clear and precise and evenly placed, tightly executed and the tunes are refreshing and vibrant, which is something, as by the late seventies jazz/fusion tended to become repetitive or just overblown with ego, but all credit to Brand X they made some well crafted music. John Goodsall played with Atomic Rooster but we'll forgive him for that as he lays down a fine fluid guitar sound on tracks with great titles including "Nuclear Burn", "Euthanasia Waltz" and "Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria" which are thankfully as interesting as their titles. The band would stretch out on further releases, especially with the next album Moroccan Roll, but Unorthodox Behaviour is a a good start.
Report this review (#48498)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first work of BRAND X released in 1976 "Unorthodox Behaviour". Masterpiece for high technology musician of Britain lock to gather, and to challenge genre "Crossing over fusion". The sound with a hard, dark color beauty is original of them. A peculiar sound to BRAND X has been established. It is a complete, peculiar high technology jazz-rock work.
Report this review (#57428)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars being a jazz fan myself, i would have to say that this album is a satisfaction in every way... too bad i didn't hear about them earlier... the best thing about it and sth i want from every jazz album is that i can enjoy it from the first to last sec without getting tired.. aahh, the hours we spent together...
Report this review (#82773)
Posted Wednesday, July 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was curious for years to listen to this band after I listened to all Genesis` albums. But at the same time I did`t want to spend my money in some albums and bands which were not very known, despite having Phil Collins in the line-up. So, in 1989 a FM Radio Station in my city (defunct since 1995 and missed since then) broadcasted a series of programmes dedicated to Genesis`albums, their solo albums and other projects like Brand X. I had the opportunity then to record this album in a cassette which I did. I have to say that I expected more than I listened from this band. Maybe I expected a similar band to Bill Bruford`s "Bruford" band, so I was a little disappointed with Brand X. One of the good things in this album was to hear Collins playing very good Jazz-Rock drums. The rest of the band members are very good musicians too, but the music wasn`t very interesting for me. I have to say that I prefer Bruford`s band instead. Another positive thing in Brand X was the humour they used to name their songs. Years later Collins had problems with one of his ears. Maybe being exposed a lot of the time to loud sounds while playing in bands or as a soloist (because he was then an hyperactive musician, working "Here, There and Everywhere") was one of the reasons of his problems with his ears.
Report this review (#87068)
Posted Sunday, August 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great album from a very high class players- all of the players have their amazing technique and amazing improvisation skills.

this album is not like an orginal fusion album, he is uniq-he combine jazz fusion, psychodelic rock, and prog. becuse of this he is so "full"- every song is full with a lot of things. I love the energy in this album and his sound, this album prove what phill collins can do with his amazing talent, its such a shame that after this good times he become... bahh.

this album is no a masterpiece of progressive music but his Excellent!. A must for all the jazz rock fans.

Report this review (#90859)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first heard this record the music seemed as mysterious as the cover, which seemed to suggest a secret or something special inside, perhaps either elitist or illegal. After all, there are no lyrics, and the music is quite a reach for someone expecting yet another rock excursion. Nonetheless, as time went by this relatively unknown has become a "desert island favorite" and always sounds fresh to these well-worn ears. Unorthodox Behaviour is one of the most important jazz-fusion offerings ever, and is as important as say Tony Williams Lifetime's Believe It!(or even Mahavishnu's Inner Mounting Flame).

At the time though, I was very skeptical when my brother tried to turn me on to this record, primarily because I knew that Phil Collins did the drum work. Well, was I ever wrong. The first Brand X album is some of the most sophisticated electric music ever recorded. It stands up very well against the test of time, and may still be their very best of all the many many albums Brand X have recorded (and continue to record right up to today). This is fantastic instrumental music, whether it is fusion or not I suppose some would argue with. All I can say to them is, "Check out Nuclear Burn".

That's a fretless bass that Percy Jones is playing. John Goodsall is on guitar and Robin Lumley is on keyboards. A very tight unit indeed! Along with Bill Bruford's One Of A Kind, this is the very best of British fusion

Report this review (#124903)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars BRAND X is, no doubt about it, one the most original and well-known British groups of the seventies jazz/rock fusion scene. Made of musicians that are technicians at their respective instruments and that are as inspired as talented. Absolut amazing from start to finish, this is a masterpiece of jazz-fusion. Again Phil Collins, is beyond super, not to mention the rest. About the music, all track are sounds very tight, well played. Nuclear Burn is simply outstanding and the rest of the tracks are all impressive in terms of dexterity/virtuosity. 5 stars, highly recommended, one of the best jazz albums ever.
Report this review (#125317)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unorthodox Behaviour is a really really organic fusion album. Filled with a number of intricate and twisting songs, but more so a gentle and improvised feel, it is agreeably one of the more important and influential releases from the Jazz/Rock subgenre. Even more agreeably is it one of Brand X's better releases, if not their very best.

Powered by the precise, loose, and surprisingly speedy drumming from Phil Collins, and complimented perfectly by the fat bass playing from virtuoso Percy Jones, the rhythm section is the driving force behind this release, and is much more than a mere pulse. Sometimes the rhythm is the melody, in a manner of speaking, and the guitar and keys is simply the added fluff. But, normally, the guitar and keys sing out on center stage, in a number of different styles: sometimes catchy and sing-able, other times incredibly swiftly and just jaw-dropping-ly quick. Both aspects are very entertaining, and they never linger anywhere long enough to grow tiresome.

A large complaint many people may have with this album (and, indeed, all fusion in general) is that it is generally fluff with little musical substance. Though that statement is very arguable, it is somewhat true to an extent. However, I think it is healthy and refreshing to listen to many different subgenres (and genres, too) in order to not drive yourself insane at the millionth play of the same album. Refreshing is an excellent word to describe this album, with its complex songwriting and near-free-form improvisational style.

Acoustic guitars and percussion come up now and then, to add yet another dimension of variation. Particularly on the final track, Touch Wood, cosmic piano, spacey acoustic guitar, and subtle percussion end the album on a magical note. Unlike many albums, exploding on the final note, dramatically burning out with a grand and over-the-top finale, this album sort of fades away in an interesting fashion. In the end, though, it leaves the listener feeling very good. Refreshing, interesting, and even slightly cosmic: Unorthodox Behaviour is a really excellent jazz album that should not be missed by fans of the subgenre.

Report this review (#140086)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Listed among the huge jazz/fusion names of their time,BRAND X started rehearsing in 1974 under keyboardist Robin Lumley and bassist Percy Jones,while they were joined by ex-Atomic Rooster John Goodsall.By mid-70's three of the original members,handling the vocals,drums and rhythm guitar quit and Genesis drummer Phil Collins took over behind the drum kit,as the band decided to carry on as an all-instrumental outfit.At the end of 1975 their debut ''Unorthodoc behavior'' was ready,released in early 76' on Charisma label.

The album presents at the best way the high skills and deep education of all the members,giving space for guitar,bass and keyboard solos.Goodsall's guitars are distinctive yet quite energetic,sometimes improvisational and rhythmic at places with deep jazzy influences.Jones ends up to be a bass monster with superb and unbelievably complicated bass lines he is never out of the game.Lumley alternates between atmospheric synths with an obscure sound and electric piano passages of high quality,being the other half of Jones' complex performance...and of course there is also Phil with his changing tempos and skillful drumming,contributing in his own personal way.A well-arranged album of pure and demanding jazz/fusion rock,who should easily appeal to fans of all music genres.Recommended and deserving 3.5 shiny stars!

Report this review (#145061)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have loved MOROCCAN ROLL (the second Brand X album) for decades, but I only discovered this, the band's debut, a few years ago. How does it measure up?

In all honesty, I don't believe UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOUR ever reaches the same high level as its successor. Its riffs and melodies are similar but (to my feeling) just not as good, its solos are somewhat less remarkable, and the album as a whole offers the reader less colour and less variety - after a couple of tracks, the music starts to sound a little samey.

Still, when all is said and done, UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOUR is still a good example of "progressive fusion" or (if you prefer) "progressive jazz-rock". There are relatively few albums in this genre, and the playing here is so much fun (most of the time) I would recommend it to anyone.

Take "Nuclear Burn", for example. Its main melody is not particularly memorable, but the funky riff with which the album kicks off is irresistible, with Percy Jones' fretless bass, John Goodsall's rhythm guitar and Robin Lumley's Fender Rhodes well to the fore.

"Euthanasia Waltz" is based on a delightful tune strummed on acoustic guitar. It features excellent solos on bass and (once again) Fender Rhodes, very subtly accompanied by Phil Collins.

"Born Ugly" is perhaps the album's most succesful composition, since it features more varied and complex development than any of the other tracks: in that sense, it's closer in spirit to MOROCCAN ROLL.

The title track reminds me of Weather Report. It features a cheeky moog solo: Robin Lumley's British counterpart to Joe Zawinul's Austria-born Africanism!

All in all, UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOUR can be recommended to all lovers of clever, high-spirited instrumental prog.

Report this review (#151650)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars An Essential Jazz Fusion album. This actually used to be my favorite Fusion album, still is one of my favorite. I don't know what it is, but there's something that makes it just perfect. It's like a cook book for making good JF. I can't say it lacks of Originality, because in a way it does and in another, it really doesn't because it's perfect. Also, the quality of the album is crystal clear, sometimes, you doubt the fact that this came out in 1976. I am myself a great Phil Collins fan, drum wise. The first song features his very famous 'cage' drum technique, that he uses in Genesis, especially, in The Cinema Show (Selling England By The Pound). Crazy bass and lots of insane [&*!#]. The whole album is extremely diverse in the jazz style. You can find this particular sound in so many other bands, but I'm saying it's generic, on the contrary. It can be soothing, as well as it can fast, aggressive, or just awesome Jazz rock. The keyboard work is cool too, your average Rhodes piano stuff by Robin Lumley. The rest is really bad ass, the way the band just changes the composition of Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria's chorus. As any good Jazz album, there a good use of a lot of instruments, like flutes, xylophones and etc... like in the cool and calm Self Titled track, that resembles a lot Weather Report. John Goodsall's guitar tone and distortion is wicked, it's really light, but in the same time it has this heavy push, like in Smacks... or in the solo off of Running Of Three. The album ends of with a nice little acoustic composition named Touch Wood. In conclusion I would just like to say, that this was one of my first jazz fusion records, and it's a perfect to start fresh with an amazing musical genre. This album is not a 'pompous' (if I may) masterpiece but it's somewhat perfect and flawless.
Report this review (#159012)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this is what I call fusion ! ...... I can listen to this album multiple times and not get bored.... There are differrent nuances that catch your ear each time you listen....It includes strong bass guitar....strong drumming ....Highly recommended to any fusion fan....
Report this review (#166772)
Posted Monday, April 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Unorthadox Behaviour is an album that I have only experienced this last year and Morrocan Roll and Livestock the only albums to have properly enjoyed by Brand X previously. Whilst Morrocan Roll is a superb album it is still not as good as this excellent release. Percy Jone's fretless bass work is exemplary, the drumming from Collins just so intricate and mesmerizing. Again incredible that such a talented musician could play such versatile and extreme styles of music over the decades.

Simply put all the tracks are pedigree off UB but the best of breed would have to be ' Nuclear Burn', ' Born Ugly' and the short and sweet ' Touch Wood' After careful analysis I would have to rate this album slightly higher than Morrocan Roll. It is near masterpiece material, firmly endorses itself within the british family of the Fusion genre and the exciting fact is there is still more to experience out of the Brand X catalogue. Four and a half stars is a sure thing for this essential release. The talent produced from Goodsall/Collins/Lumley and Jones is dumbfounding to say the least.

Report this review (#179665)
Posted Saturday, August 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars According to my music database, my first exploration of Brand X was when I purchased Livestock in February 1979, followed in April that year with Masques. In 2002, I started to fill-in my digital collection of old Brand X vinyl favorites with CD versions. At that time, I picked-up Unorthodox Behavior which I never had on vinyl. The only song I had any exposure to was Euthanasia Waltz which was on Livestock (I have to admit, I prefer the live version a bit better). So Unorthodox Behavior was new to me in 2002.

Brand X is not a band I play everyday, but nonetheless, once or twice a year it comes off the shelves and it takes me right back to the late 70's era. No, its not like Bruford. Not like Oregon, either. Not like much of anyone, at the time. Brand X plays a type of minimalist electric jazz-rock, for its day. You might hear hints of Mahavishnu, Santana or even the more progressive side of Sea Level or Pablo Cruise (its a stretch, but there are island rhythms in Brand X).

Others have given the blow-by-blow, song-by-song, so there isn't much need to cover that again. Instead, I invite those unfamiliar with Brand X to seek out some samples, put a funk-groove on, like Born Ugly or the title track. Music like this is not meant to be passively listened to, you have to respond to it in order get the full meaning. Oh yes, all performers are at the top of their games and there is some wonderful interplay between instruments, but move beyond the technical and dare to enter into some unorthodox behavior of your own.

My guess is that the difference between those who give this recording 5 stars and those who give it 4 (or 3) is whether they allowed the music to really take them, to move them and to groove them. This is an album that is more about letting go than anything. This is as anti-disco as you could get, and still it socks a solid groove.

5 stars from me because I've been grooving a long time to this music; even if it is only zeros and ones with a laser bouncing off it, these days. To me all three, UB, Livestock and Masques are five-star. Its all among the best music of its day.

Report this review (#180390)
Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I already did a very short review on The Plot thins compilation which by the way contains two songs of this debut by Brand X. But as I stated there: I'm not an expert on jazz rock/fusion even though I like jazz music in general and that is mainly because of the atmosphere it creates.

So I will be reviewing this as an outsider. What strikes me mainly with this album is the high speed execution on several tracks of this album. Especially the high class opening track Nuclear Burn but also Euthanasia Waltz stand out on this feature. The rest (maybe except Running of three) is more like the stream track on this site Why should I lend you mine, the song that made me familiar with this band. And that means with more progressive elements and less mainstream jazz.

All in all, as an outsider I can hear sheer class when I play this. And even though it's not 100 % living up to my personal taste (I'm more a fan of Shakatak's or Steely Dan's style of jazz) I will still give it 4* (3,75).

Report this review (#184663)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I had read somewhere that Phil Collins was a fan of early MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA so it may have been a dream of his to do a Jazz / Fusion album. The timing had to be right considering he was already in a full time band with GENESIS. Obviously it all worked out as BRAND X came to fruition and they recorded this their debut album just before Phil went into the studio with GENESIS to record "Trick Of The Tail".

"Nuclear Burn" opens with Phil and his intricate drum patterns as keys and bass support.The guitar comes ripping in at 1 1/2 minutes. Great sound 2 minutes in,love the synths.The tempo starts to pick up. Collins is simply outstanding here. Check out the bass and drumming with background synths before 4 minutes.Incredible ! The guitar is back as we get a big finish. "Euthanasia Waltz" opens with acoustic guitar and drums as liquid keys and bass arrive a minute in. Guitar is back 2 1/2 minutes in and what follows is fairly laid back but intricate. "Born Ugly" is more uptempo and kind of funky. Lots of piano too. The calm 4 minutes in is cool as some nice guitar comes out of that. That is my favourite part of the song. Drums and keys after 6 minutes are impressive. Guitar is back before 8 minutes to end it.

"Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria" is led again by Collins as liquid keys come in. Synths before 2 minutes then the guitar lights it up. "Unorthodox Behaviour" is restrained for the most part as it opens with Phil sounding like a clock ticking on the drums. Bass and guitar play lightly and keys arrive before 2 minutes. Vibes before 4 1/2 minutes. It starts to come to life 6 minutes in. It ends as it began. "Running On Three" is uptempo with some fabulous drumming and bass work. The guitar before 3 minutes really sets this song on fire. Bass 4 minutes in to end it. "Touch Wood" opens with intricate guitar as piano comes in. It starts to liven up before 3 minutes with a melody.

If you think Collins is just an above average drummer then you need to hear this album. He really steals the show here with an incredible performance. Great album all around.

Report this review (#190765)
Posted Friday, November 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars There is certainly a ton of skill in this band, and it definitely shows. It contains some of Phil Collin's best drumming, yet somehow, I don't love this album. It's not that the music's bad, it's not that there's no skill shown, it's just that the music just didn't grab me. There are very few fusion bands who have actually grabbed my attention (Bill Bruford's did). Some of the music did grab me and I will listen to just some of the tracks, but I can never get myself to sit down and listen to the whole album. Great musicianship, and will grab all fusion fans, but if you don't like fusion, this won't change your mind.
Report this review (#192178)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ruckus outside, sirens blaring, footsteps heading towards my door, I peek secretively through the blinds , what is...? Knock, Knock! "This is the Prog police, come out with your mouse in the air, stand back from your lap-dog-top, step away from that gargantuan prog collection and do not resist or else we will be forced to zap(pa?) you!" Sheepeshly , I retort But what have I done? What crime have I commited?. "The judge will explain, come with us" was the terse reply. Next day, at the fabled Court of the Crimson King, I faced the three judges (Ok, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, pffffff!) who accused me of being a wuss/softie! "When will you review some technically complex prog, you dimwit? Stop this RPI/sympho/neo/Related/Cross-Over fixation, will ya?" Er.. Now, your honors, I promise, today! Good thing I had my lawyers present, Micky, Davie and Russell to boost my confidence. Bring it on, they said in harmonious unison, bring it on!

"Unorthodox Behaviour" was an obvious label for my rather silly intro but it also serves as the title for Brand X' scintillating debut, one of those rare instances where context manages to override the content! Ah! Yes, those where heady, wondrous days back in the early 70s where musical battlelines where clearly not entrenched as much as today and one could be ultra-daring and creative without endangering the public wrath (whatever that means!). Uncle Phil Collins initiated his fame with the legendary Genesis but he happened to be a damn good percussor and he simply went out and got together with some of the finest British, semi-unknown at the time, cohorts who languished incognito in the jazz-rock realm. Looking back, Percy Jones was a "who?", John Goodsall and Robin Lumley were strangers in the night. Along comes the mad drummer with his flashy credentials and what does he do, he puts together some of the wildest jazz-fusion ever recorded and not as a one-shot deal but a still ongoing legend with a massive discography! "More Fool Me" indeed! Think about it, not bad... Can anyone come up with a more a propos title for an opener than "Nuclear Burn"? I mean, there is no fiddling around with silly atmospheric overtures, gently entrancing the listener, this going ballistic right off the launch pad, a colossal mushroom cloud of perverse rhythmic fury that fuses, fizzles and fossilizes everything in its wake with destructive abandon! Percy Jones wobbles like no other, a whirlwind of death-defying stunts on fretless bass, fusing magically with Lumley's resonating electric piano, while Goodsall establishes a quirky, Formula 1 speedy riff that would make Santana/MacLaughlin/DiMeola blush with envy. On top, a dazzling synthesizer flurry adds to the excitement, while Phil rips in the finest Cobham/Gadd/Walden style. Riveting stuff ideally suited for those fans who enjoy fusion by alternately focusing on one instrument, thus constantly bringing newly discovered slants on their pleasure. "Euthanasia Waltz" is another classic Brand X piece, with more of the same ingredients, Goodsall shivering majestically on acoustic guitar, very close to "Elegant Gypsy"- era Di Meola but with terrific contributions from Lumley and Collins. This is not only cool but technically compelling, with Jones' bass discovering new textures seemingly at will. "Born Ugly" veers mercilessly into funkier realms, almost Return to Forever-like but where Jones' bass rollicks with frenzied grooves and Collins displaying some jive'drummin' of the highest caliber, proving to those unrepentant naysayers that the man could drum with the very best of them. The track grows in fascinating ways; chock full of playful abandon, with vectored velocity and unsuspected contrasts. The extensive Goodsall guitar foray is loaded with inventive exploration, blisteringly swift fills that induce awe and disbelief. The repeated brief liquid piano and shuffling drum duets are spectacular and deserved applause, there and then. "Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria" is a cheeky title and even cheekier music, a barrage of solid riffs built around Jones' dripping liquid bass (unbelievable, man, the guy is insane) follies, a rambling synth solo that searches out new horizons and a deranged axe sortie defying conventional prog logic. The title cut is next, Collins setting the "Time" clock right, noodling ripples from the fretless monster, a deliberate buildup of unpretentious (yeah, right) sonic shades, unexpected accelerations and cute toying with the main theme, these guys were obviously having fun in a genre more known for stuffy seriousness. British fusion/jazz-rock always included a charming sense of humor (Hatfield & the North, National Health, Caravan etc..) which surfaces here as well in the oddball titles and the funny liner notes: the album was produced by Dennis Mackay , who in turn was produced by Mrs.Mackay, as well as that quip "about underwater show-jumping and indoor deep-sea power boat racing in Mozambique". This is a hilarious musical voyage, full of quark, strangeness and charm as Hawkwind once proclaimed. "Running of Three" is another breezy exercise, furiously paced, deliriously magnificent and outrageously entertaining, with a huge melody, brisk pace and idiosyncratic ideas. Should I just shut up about the glorious bass and drums? Sorry I just can't, Collins and Jones propel this sucker like few rhythm sections even dare, while Goodsall's fretboard meows, growls, howls and barks uncontrolled. Percy Jones is among my top 5 bassists and if you wonder why you haven't been hooked yet, listen up and kneel to the shrine, the man is astounding, I have been shaking my head at his unique prowess for so long, I cannot comprehend why he is not as revered as Jaco, Chris, the Spider or Tony the bald one. Anyway, "Touch Wood" is a short, elegant adieu, a harbinger of things to come with the magnificent "Moroccan Roll". Love this one though very much, now may I be released on my own recognizance!? and drop the charges , with compensation?. 5 fretless Tom Collins cocktails.

Report this review (#210507)
Posted Sunday, April 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I bought this album solely because I´m a Genesis freak and decided I had to listen to everything their members were involved in, musically speaking. But I should warn anyone reading this review that I´m not a jazz rock/fusion fan. To really grab my atention it has to be something special, like Bill Brufford´s frist solo work, for exemple. In my opinion jazz rock always meant too much technique and little feeling. Or, as we say in Brazil, it is music for musicians.

So I approached this CD with caution, since it is labeled under that banner. And a fusion outfit they are, for sure, but that said, I also should point out that those guys are outstanding instrumentalists. Phil Collins is really a brilliant drummer. And a lot of the songs here are well above what you hear from jazz rock bands in general. As a whole I think this band, like Mahavishnu Orchestra and a few others, went beyond that genre´s boundaries and truly deserve to be in the under the progressive umbrella. Tracks like Born Ugly are quite prog rock and it successfully avoids most fusion cliches. Most of the stuff here is quite pleasant and has some really interesting, rich arrangements and the playing is nothing less than superb. Those guys really cook. the title track is quite experimental and one of the best prog-jazz works I´ve seen in years.

I was glad to find this band after all this time. They´ve surpassed my expectations and I´m looking forward to hear Unorthodox Behaviour´s follow up. Very strong debut indeed. If you´re interested in knowing a good, progressive jazz rock band and is not a real fan of the style, try this album. It might surprises you like it did to me. Four stars.

Report this review (#246452)
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars One of the things I liked so much about the seventies is how each musician of the great bands had their own sound and style. Especially so for drummers. Could you possibly mix up Bill Bruford with Carl Palmer or with Cozy Powel, Neil Peart or Phil Collins? Guess not. On Brand X debut, Collins shines like nowhere else. His approach is recognizable to that of the Genesis albums but of course the format is much looser here.

For me, fusion was a very intense but short-lived style in the 70's, meaning most bands had one or two spectacular albums in them before the inspiration ran out and they faded away in pointless style-exercises. And so fared Brand X. Their debut was their finest hour where they defined what they were about over the course of 7 great improvisations.

I'm not knowledgeable enough about all things jazz to point out why I like this one so very much. So without analyzing this any deeper, I'd say it just feels right and well, isn't that just enough once in a while?

Report this review (#251749)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars If you're still not convinced about the fact that Phil Collins was a great drummer back in the '70s then look no further!

After Phil Collins took over on drums and was featured on the band's debut album Unorthodox Behaviour in early 1976, Brand X got the recognition that they truly deserved. I might be unfair only mentioning Collins since the whole band shines here. The material is pure Jazz Rock/Fusion so don't expect anything else. If you like the style then it's very likely that you'll find this release to be an essential part of your music collection together with the best albums by Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever.

The album begins with a very memorable Nuclear Burn and everything that follows hereafter is almost just as great. Even I who has never been a huge fan of the fusion sub-genre managed to appreciate most of these performances. I guess that it's one of those rare albums that everyone will be able to enjoy just due to sheer brilliance of the material. This is simply an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection well worth your time!

***** star songs: Nuclear Burn (6:20) Born Ugly (8:13)

**** star songs: Euthanasia Waltz (5:39) Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria (4:26) Unorthodox Behaviour (8:25) Running On Three (4:37)

*** star songs: Touch Wood (3:03)

Total rating: 4,28

Report this review (#255730)
Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the end of the day, possibly my favorite style of Prog is largely instrumental, near jams, near jazz, but largely epic workouts with intricate virtuosic hooks. Obviously the Canterbury bands are a big favorite, and really a source of almost endless resources for going back to the well for more great music.

A lot of the best Progsters invoke a fair amount of fusion. And the later day Gong, Brufford, and Passport do just that. BUT you know, there's a "line" even within fusion. There's a line between jazz fusion and Prog fusion.

On the jazz fusion side, we've got Miles, Weather Report, M. Orchestra and even later period Soft Machine style fusion, all great great stuff. ButI find my favorite Prog is Prog Fusion", very jazz influenced, heck very "fusion" influenced, but still somehow "Prog". Perhaps it just retains a little more structure and rock to it. Bands like DFA, Brand X, Brian Auger, later Gong, Passport, Steve Hilliage, Coliseum and many others, are still more Prog fusion than jazz fusion. And Brand X's first album is one of the very best. Just brilliant.

Report this review (#273741)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Brand X debut is really great album! A bit different from American jazz-rock from early 70-s, it shows strongest sides of British school. And you can even hear some funk and groove there!

This album obviously has two heroes - and one of them is Phill Collins! Yes, no mistake! Generally I have very critical opinion on Collins musicianship, but on this album he shows excellent musicianship (ok, not very original - obviously influenced by Billy Cobham though). Never before or after Phil was such a great drummer as on this album! Another hero is fretless bassist Percy Jones and I will like his playing for years ahead!

Fresh, energetic, inspired fusion played by team of very skilled musicians - it's the best characteristic of this album's music. Besides of jazz-rock schemes you will hear prog rock elements in many places, what is characteristic moment for British (and European) jazz-rock for 70-s.

Really great work - and I believe not only for fusion fans. Every Collins fan must have this album just to hear Phil's best drumming ever.

Report this review (#291216)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Back in the 1970s, it seemed like most of the greatest jazz rock fusion bands came from the jazz side of the equation. And most of those were filled with former Miles Davis sidemen. Then came Brand X. With this album John Goodsall, Robin Lumley, Percy Jones and drummer Phil Collins, mostly known for work in rock, pushed this band into the pantheon of fusion groups.

Right from the first track, the music is tight, complex, energetic, and different from any other fusion band. It helps that they had Percy Jones, a bass player with a sound like no other. And drummer Phil Collins excelled at this form of music (it's too bad he has since been usurped by singer Phil Collins). Goodsall and Lumley are no slouches either, showing their chops on blazing melodic sections as well as fiery solos.

This album is less lush than the later Brand X albums, which added percussionist Morris Pert (and juggled other members), but the sound doesn't suffer from his absence.

This band's catalogue is a must for the serious fusion collector.

Report this review (#297310)
Posted Friday, September 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The mastermind behind jazz rock fusion was for sure Miles Davis with his highly influential albums and his incredible line up. The genre degree of technicality is very high, the skills of the musicians is incredible. This album is the first one from Brand X and has all the ingredients which could make a great JR/F album. Powerful tunes with catchy melodies, dreamy and emotional moments, very good rhythmic side. In '76 some very important JR/F albums were already released and for sure one could feel the influences of classic artits/bands like: Billy Cobham(drumming style), Mahavishnu Orchestra(compozitional approach), Return to forever(keyboards).

We have 7 songs with 2 having more than eight minutes. The total length is a little over 40 minutes. It's not a long record but a very dense one especially on the first three songs. The first one, "Nuclear Burn", is representative for Brand X. Phil Collins behind drums and Percy Jones on bass are doing a pretty good job. The rhythmic section is very fast. If on the first song the rhythmic section takes the front, on the second song "Euthanasia Waltz ", John Goodsall on guitar and Robin Lumley on keyboard are doing a really good job. Through the end all instruments are jamming and they seem to complete very good one each other.

My favorite song is "Born ugly" with his slow intro and very inspired middle/final part. I found the next two songs("Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria" and "Unorthadox Behaviour ") a bit uninspired taking the first three songs into consideration. Somehow the high degree of technicality and inspiration from the first songs disappears. Definitely not bad but it seems that all the good ingredients were lost somewhere during the start-up.

The good times are back with the sixth song. With the same approach from the first three songs everything runs this time pretty fast but more rocky. The rhythmic section is fantastic on this song.

The last song is also the shortest one with easy and mellow parts being very similar to a movie soundtrack in a "Brian Eno" style. In fact, Percy Jones, played with Brian Eno in those times on records like "Another green world" and "Before and after science". This is for sure recommended for everyone as we have very good moments. Not the best fusion record I know but not a bad one either.

Report this review (#403549)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is in my opinion the finest ever representation of British Jazz Fusion, and it is so very un-British! Phil Collins here comes out of his shell and offers some absolutely stunning performances and from the first seconds of Nuclear Burn you know you are in for 40 minutes of other-worldly musicianship and incredible Jazz Fusion. This is the first time a British Jazz Fusion act made something as technically proficient as the Spanish and American giants of the genre. Most of the music is clearly influenced by Mahivishnu Orchestra and you could easily accuse this record of being unoriginal but at a time when Jazz Fusion was dead in the U.K this album brings it back to life in stunning fashion.

Nuclear Burn is for me the highlight of the record with some absolutely amazing drumming interspersed with technical and blisteringly fast Guitars and Keyboards. The record also features slower songs similar to the work of Return To Forever. Euthanasia Waltz and Born Ugly both show this influence very well. One of the more unusual pieces is Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria which features more of a funk vibe than other tracks on the album and showcases some fantastic keyboard and guitar playing.

This album easily grabs 5 stars for me being not only the album that proved wrong my perceptions that a fast exciting British Jazz Fusion record was completely elusive but also showcases the finest playing Phil Collins accomplished and combines the finest moments of Mahivishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever into a complete Jazz Fusion experience.

Report this review (#409077)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#453090)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Prior to entering the studio for Genesis' first post-Peter Gabriel album, Phil Collins loosened up by taking the drummer's stool for this debut Brand X album. The group play a light and airy style of fusion reminiscent of a little bit of Return to Forever, the occasional hint of Mahavishnu Orchestra, and a generous helping of Billy Cobham's Spectrum.

All pleasant enough, though it took a while for the album to really grow on me; at first listen it doesn't really stand out as a classic of the genre. A few tracks were reworked for some pieces on Brian Eno's Another Green World and Before and After Science albums (which featured Brand X members in the backing groups), but comparing them makes it plain how much Eno's production and ambient manipulations changed those pieces. Still, the unique atmosphere and playfulness of the group (as exemplified by the title track) puts them into a space of their own on the fusion scene, and it's worth giving Unorthodox Behaviour several tries before its secrets open up to you.

Report this review (#546012)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars BRAND X actually had strange beginnings. The musical entity was formed as a jam band by record execs at Island and A&R and used the name "BRAND X" to generically apply to their music calendar. They initiated the first lineup which consisted of only John Goodsall (Atomic Rooser, The Fire Merchants) appearing on this debut release UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOR. After a bunch of members being replaced only to be replaced again, the band finally ended up with the lineup of Goodsall, keyboardist Robin Lumley (Rod Argent, Anthony Phillips, David Bowie), bassist and marimbaist Percy Jones (Soft Machine, David Sylvian, Eno, Steve Hackett, Suzanne Vega etc) and of course Phil Collins who at this point was entertaining his long desire to play in a jazz-fusion band at the time when Gabriel had left Genesis. We also get occasional soprano sax help form Jack Lancaster of Blodwyn Pig fame.

This album displays some of Collins' most distinguished and ferocious chops that he could dish out. In fact i never understood the hype behind his drumming skills until i finally heard this album. He also adds healthy doses of vibraphones to the mix as well bringing the jazz years of Lionel Hampton to mind. This is a splendid example of 70s jazz-fusion taking a little of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's frenetic energy and mixing it with a Return To Forever type atmosphere and occasional Herbie Hancock funkiness.

All the musicians here are really at their best and the sum of their parts results in an extremely pleasant surprise. While not the most original jazz-fusion album of the 70s, it is nonetheless very consistent from beginning to end with pleasant melodies interspersed with frenetic drum rolls, layers of silence, funky bassm atmospheric synthesizers and rhythmic developments accompanied by proggy jazzed up time signature outbursts and even some sizzling solo trade off between the Moog synthesizers and guitars.

Due to the involvement of Phil Collins, this album actually made it on to the Billboard top 200 albums albeit peaking only at No. 191. Another aspect of this album i really dig is the production. There is great attention paid to details in how notes slide, in the volume control of the instruments in relation to each other and the overall atmospheric development of the album. Great musicianship and beautifully constructed instrumental workouts make this a pleasant listen that i don't seem to tire of. Slightly more accessible than the influences on board but it also delivers on the jazz-fusion goods that even the most hardened fans can get into.

Report this review (#1394577)
Posted Sunday, April 5, 2015 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Despite Phil Collins being a core member of this British fusion four-piece, "Unorthodox Behaviour" is certainly no Genesis record. It's actually a surprise that this group never got more traction, not only because of the famous name in the line-up but also because this album, as with their albums to follow, is really incredible.

The album is completely instrumental and its sound is full and complex at times, nonchalant and mysterious at others. Breakneck numbers like "Nuclear Burn" and "Running On Three" are showcases of some of the finest drum work Phil Collins ever laid down, though no one band member ever steals the show. The amount of interplay in this group is stunning and the music is very well balanced between loose and complex. Songs like "Born Ugly" are especially brilliant at going through frequent time and tempo changes while still flowing organically. "Unorthodox Behaviour" really is a very good example of 70's fusion and really plays up the atmosphere; its shady urban moods and 60's espionage undertones are sublime. My only problem with the album is that, while it's pleasant to hear while it's playing, doesn't stick with you too well once it's finished; most of the songs are good but not very memorable. I'd recommend this album to fans of Jeff Beck's 70's solo fusion albums but it should really appeal to any fusion fan.

3.5 stars rounded down for four strong players producing some very good work.

Report this review (#1480498)
Posted Thursday, October 29, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars It has Phil Collins, a smooth jazz and a technical fusion: 8/10

Phil Collins always hinted his ultimate power wasn't really unleashed while in GENESIS. Granted, some songs from the band required a strong performance, yet it wasn't sufficient to showcase the full extent of his abilities - even if it did indicate he had concealed potential within his heart. BRAND X, on the other hand, permitted him a technical freedom where right on its debut he was sure to ferociously showcase all his abilities. Straight ahead, in Nuclear Burn, his nonchalant might is so intense it probably would make a CTTE Bill Bruford blush. It did, no pun intended, blow me away, as I believe it did to many others.

Nuclear Burn sets the mood impeccably: it has a lightly jazzy background thanks to Lumley's smooth Fender Rhodes piano, a groovy bass by Percy Jones, John Goodsall's intense guitar performance and the highly dynamic Phil Collins rhythm. All musicians play in equal intensity and vivacity, none of them stealing the spotlight, all of them delivering state-of-art musicianship and melodies. It seems that, right on the first track, BRAND X shows us UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOR's climax: they managed to use technical efficiency to create a highly enjoyable environment, rather than it being just an excuse to do some technical wankery.

BRAND X is, at least technically, an impressive band, on the likes of RETURN TO FOREVER and MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. They, too, exhibit that lighthearted atmosphere typical of "technical jazz fusion" albums, although they are much less ambitious (in comparison to MAHAVISHNU's symphonic tendencies or RETURN TO FOREVER's avant-garde leanings), much less complex, and deeply rooted in calm jazz before anything else. For as technical it might get, it's as smooth as Polynesian canoes sailing through Polynesia. The ocean they voyage through is the PACIFIC Ocean. Try to imagine how smooth that must be. Hint: just as smooth as UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOR.

Was the first track the album's culmination, after all? I think it was. Luckily, Nuclear Burn is an amazing song on a great album, so the other tracks, while not captivating as it, are individually great. Some stray to smoother objectives, such as Euthanasia Waltz; others prefer a ROMANTIC WARRIOR-esque approach to create a surreal ambiance with catchy Moog riffs, all that while creating a strangely dreamy ambience - whose experimentalism truly seems to be an Unorthodox Behavior for jazz fusion. Whatever it is the song's purpose, it's well executed. The quartet were able musicians, after all.

If you don't want absurd complexity, although you do want some complexity; if you want melody, although you do not want too much melody; if you want a badass Phil Collins, although you think Phil Collins isn't badass; I got a name for ya. It starts with the second letter of the alphabet and ends with the second last letter. (as long as you pretend Y is not a letter.)

Report this review (#1778585)
Posted Saturday, September 2, 2017 | Review Permalink

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