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Brand X - Unorthodox Behaviour CD (album) cover


Brand X


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.12 | 364 ratings

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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.

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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