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Brand X - Is There Anything About? CD (album) cover


Brand X

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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2 stars sounds more like a contractural commitment than the idea of breaking into the 80's. Too light in comparison with early work but yet there are a couple of tracks that deserve listening. maybe the leftovers of the two previous albums.
Report this review (#23110)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Looking back over some of the earlier BRAND X reviews, they're terribly dull. Hardly a fitting tribute to a band with a sense of humor, so I'll try to have a little fun with this one, especially since the limp arrangements on "Is There Anything About?" invite an idle mind to wander. Usually it's a simple matter to write humor, but the cat has me contemplating dark designs this morning. My next pet is going to be something small and ephemeral like a gerbil or a guinea pig. They're like pet temps really, a means to gauge if the position needs to be filled full time. Rodents are also death primers; the wading pool of the great grieving where children first learn about death and loss and the importance of keeping shoe boxes. (Darn that cat, I've veered far off Funny Lane.) Guinea pigs and gerbils are the 98-ounce weaklings of the rodent family. They live in a cage most of the time, and the minute they get out into the real world it's curtains. It's like some primal death instinct, waiting for the perfect moment to escape and cash out of their little lives. A neighbor once released their gerbil into the woods after it bit them. Not the most ingenious escape plan for a gerbil, but their options are kind of limited. Oh, they probably start out with grand designs, thinking "If I could just get a rubber band and a D cell battery and some copper wiring" and by week two the lack of adequate exercise and intellectual stimulation has narrowed the plan to "Eh, I'll just bite 'em." So the gerbil was released into the woods to seek his fortune in a Disneyesque tale that promised adventure, self-discovery, maybe even a little romance. At least for those first few minutes before it was eaten by a cat or a hawk or forced to work as an acorn accountant in the hollow of a tree by opportunistic squirrels. I imagine that first exchange with another animal was sort of awkward. "Where can you find the food dish that's always full? At the end of a rope, my friend." And like an old watch, or the career of BRAND X, the gerbil simply wound down and stopped. But if you'd like, we'll give them both a better ending. We'll say the gerbil found an abandoned mouse home and quickly adapted to his new surroundings. He became a night creature, scurrying through the grass and scampering into the kitchens of nearby houses to steal morsels for his family (yes, he had found romance and married a mole, for love is indeed blind). And he lives to this day, because he has the will to live, with grandchildren and great-grandchildren and even great-great-great grandchildren spellbound at his worn furry knees to hear his tales of adventure: from the time he rode a sharp-shinned hawk using nothing but a plastic six-pack string to the night he crawled into the not-quite empty Schnapps bottle and performed a tomato can solo with a band of equally intoxicated cats.

As for BRAND X, the band dispersed to its atomic elements only to re-form a decade later and tickle the faithful yet again. But I haven't answered your question. Is there any reason to purchase "Is There Anything About?" Yes, if you want to own it just to own it (completists who can't abide an unscratchable itch). Despite the circa seventy-nine lineup, this isn't a return to Product's eclectic mixture of pop and fusion, though "Soho" does cast its shadow on the instrumental "Noisy, Modern And Effective" It's otherwise a mild record, a somewhat disinterested winding down that includes an unscripted demo ("TMIU-ATGA") and smooth jazz where streaks of defiant oddball strangeness once ran.

Report this review (#23111)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hmmm... Brand X has released some of the best fusion stuff ever. That said, this album, as stated in earlier reviews, sounds like some of the left-overs or outakes from "Do They Hurt", which in itself sounded like the left-overs from "Product". Not sure I understand slamming Phil Collins for HIS contributions, as Robin Lumley is the one who compiled this package -- it's almost a Lumley solo album with session players.

There are, however, a few bits that sound good, primarily the title track. "Is There Anything About" (the tune) is a great little jam, that almost sounds like it could have been a live track from "Livestock". Not a lot of substance, but it just cooks along, and contains just enough of that Brand X spontaneity and humor that the earlier material has.

"Ipanaemia" has a bit of a groove, and might have fit nicely on the 12" B-side of "Soho".

"A Longer April" is just a band version of "April" from "Product" with guest Ravenscroft on sax; personally I like the shorter April more.

"Swan Song" may have been more appropriately titled "Modern, Noisy and Effective", which in itself is an instrumental reworking of "Soho", utilizing the backing track from that song (but not nearly as good a melody).

The one track that needed not ever be released is "TMIU-ATGA" ("They're making it up as they go along"), which is one of the worst tunes I think I've EVER heard by ANY band (and CALLING it a tune at all is generous).

This album IS available on CD, although it is definitely NOT the release to introduce new listeners to the band. Completists might be pleasantly surprised that there IS SOMETHING ELSE about.

Report this review (#86063)
Posted Monday, August 7, 2006 | Review Permalink

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