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Brand X - Moroccan Roll CD (album) cover


Brand X

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ha! MORROCAN ROLL ("More Rock 'n' Roll," get it?) from this excellent Phil Collins jazz-fusion side-project.

Despite the clever title, this is not rock and roll. I agree with an earlier reviewer who writes that this doesn't sound like Phil's solo work (and with inventive, virtuoso players like Jones, Goodsall, Pert and Lumley on board, how could it?), and I also second that critic's high opinion of this album, but I can't go along with the notion that it bears any real similarity to Genesis. Many of us may have originally tried Brand X because of Collins' involvement (hoping for something in the Genesis vein), only to find a much wilder, less-structured form of music. Is it really progressive rock? As I've said before, not by my definition of the term -- I file my Brand X with my jazz CDs, between (Jeff) Beck and Bruford. (In fact, if you like Bruford's earlier solo recordings, you should enjoy this, which is somewhat akin to his terrific ONE OF A KIND.)

Nit-picking over genres aside, this is excellent and challenging music. The disc opens with the brilliant, Eastern-flavoured "Sun in the Night," which -- though Phil sings on it -- bears absolutely no resemblance to such radio-friendly aural pap as "You Can't Hurry Love." (Firstly, the vocals are in ancient Sanskrit, and secondly, Brand X is the band!) After that relatively accessible ditty, it's goodbye vocals, hello weird and wonderful music. Don't buy Brand X CDs on the basis of an appreciation for classic Genesis, or a (lamentable) love of Collins' $olo "blue-eyed Motown" material. Buy them because you're musically open-minded, and because you'd like to hear some nonpareil musicians doing something completely different -- like jazz from another planet! Another great recording from a great band!

Report this review (#23068)
Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Second opus from this now-quintet, with the addition of percussionist Morris Pert, Moroccan Roll is born on an almost Canterburian pun, with an exotic Saharian artwork that has been retouched by high technology. The group is joined by Morris Pert, a percussionist that will beef up the sound of the group, but Pert will also become an important "songwriter" for the group.

One of the originality of this album is that it is Brand X's only with vocals (and even then mostly choirs) on the opening and closing tracks, but unfortunately it wasn't that good an idea. It doesn't help giving World Music credibility to the opening Sun In The Night, despite Goodsall's dabblings on a sitar. The Collins-penned double-shot "Lend" tracks (the lengthy titles might come from some Public Schoolboys friends of his that haven't fully grown up), but unlike what we'd expect, both tracks remains slow with the occasional Goodsall's McL-ian guitar bursts. A manic drum burst opens fire on the Hate zone, a full-funk piece where the group's five cylinders give it their best shot.

On the flipside, Collapsar (not to be confused with National Health's Collapso) is a short synth filler penned by Lumley and it doesn't even serve as an intro for his following Disco Suicide, an electric piano-led funky track, but certainly not my fave BX track, the synth sounds being cringe-y and the cheesy choirs and tubular bells are not helping either. Orbits is a bit Percy Jones' answer to Collapsar and just as useless, since it's no intro to his Malaga Virgen , an up-tempo track at the start where Jones tries to outdo Pastorius in the middle section, but is not helping his own composition in doing so. But Virgen's second half returns to the opening theme, before going bass-happy a second time. This writer doesn't understand all the hoopla on this track and much prefers the following monster-jam Macrocosm, the one BX track to rival with Nuclear Burn, with an overheating Goodsall guitar and an incredible end, as if the 5 cylinders of this group had problem stopping and misfired back on the track.

MR was for decades my fave BX, but once the millennium arrived, UB took over and has stayed ahead, because tMR one is too uneven, especially on the fillers. But don't get me wrong, MR is still the second best BX album and should please most fusionheads.

Report this review (#23069)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here the collaboration and creativity of the early Phil COLLINS let them be famous among the new listeners of this particular genre... besides I like to make a special mention for the tasteful job at bass guitar, both on such splendid fretted and fretless bass guitar... Recommended as the first accessible work by BRAND X !!
Report this review (#23070)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is very good fusion music. It really contains many mellow parts, full of subtle electric guitars, keyboards and percussion sounds. There are some good fast drums parts too. The keyboards can be really floating. There are many outstanding moog solos. The piano parts are really catchy and have a unique beautiful sound. The fretless bass sound is loud and complex enough. The electric guitars are less based on penetrating solos here, like on Unorthodox behaviour. It is possible to really relax while listening to some smooth parts. It is not so the technical performance here, but rather the global refined feeling that this music generates.
Report this review (#23071)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hard to define the music..jazz fusion/rock? I am not so sure, either way what an outstanding album from beginning to end. Highly recommended. Collin's background vocals work a treat and a mostly instrumental offering. But biggest regret? Not having any of the other Brand X albums. Thats what makes shopping fun for some I guess. 4 plus a half stars for Morrocan Roll.
Report this review (#23072)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After an excellent debut album Brand X kept improving on their compositions, resulting in this little jewel. The addition of Morris Pert on percussions expanded the bands sound into a more exotic sounding direction simultaneously with an ever growing Mahavishnu Orchestra influence, the result sounding very different from anything else. The opening track features a solid sitar riff with vocals sung in sanskrit by Phil Collins, creating a very dreamy trance like atmosphere that will take you to the temples of India in no time. The follow-up 'Why Should I lend You Mine' is a very laidback fusion jam that teases and toys with the listener all the way through. It recalls the title track of the debut only more eclectic. Good and effective stuff! The rest of the album is closer to the debut album only with a more orchestred sound complete with further eastern influences and much more atmosphere this time around. "Orbits" and "Collapsar" are the only throwaways here but the rest of the album is excellent. Amazing playing as well.

A no-brainer if you already are into this band. Might even work as a good starter as well. 4.5/5

Report this review (#23073)
Posted Saturday, March 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I bought Brand X's first album it was in my to ten in albums so but I only thought they made that one single record, but then I saw all the other albums and I desided to get Morccan Roll. When I put the cd on. It was rather weird hearing Goodsall playing this melodelic chord rift and then Collins sing that repeating line, to tell you I was abit worried what had happened then I got the sitar part and all was forgiven! But I got use to Sun in the Night anyways. The Phil Collins songs sound like something off of ELP's Works 2 but they were great songs. Hate Zone was funky fresh along with the most energetic song I ever heard Magla Virgen. The proposive rhythems on Disco Suicide made that song really cook as well for Macroism with that John Goodsall showing his somewhat legoto style probably even faster then Holdworth or Pass well maybe not Holdsworth. While Collasadator and Orbits were littles solo.
Report this review (#23074)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brand X is simply one of the best progessive rock bands I have heard in a long time. It´s not easy to classify his music. I would highly recomended this band and especially the albums Unorthodox Behaviour and Moroccan Roll.
Report this review (#36072)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm a big fan of Phil Collins drumming because his style was really terrific in early albums of Genesis. That was the reason why I had this album in my collection. The first time I listened to it, I was surprised the kind of music was completely different than Genesis. At that time I had no information about who and what BRAND X was all about - no internet, no prog magazine, nothing. The only thing I knew was Phil Collins and I expected something like Genesis. The music of BRAND X reminded me of the music of bands like Return To Forever (Chick Corea), Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra (John McLaughlin) or early albums of Al Di Meola (Land of the Midnight Sun, Elegant Gypsy, Splendido Hotel). So, I dropped my imagination about Genesis, and I just enjoyed the music .."boom!" it's an excellent music man!

The album starts off with an eastern nuance music with great vocals with "Sun In The Night" (4:25). The sitar work by John Goodsall will remind you immediately to the work of Ravi Shankar. It's a very rewarding track. "Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You Have Broken Off Already)" (11:16) begins in an ambient style with keyboard work combined with improvised bass lines. Drum enters in crescendo and the style reminds me of Bill Bruford's. Guitar enters nicely and performs its sol augmented with great combination of keyboard improvisation and dynamic drum. Wow! I have to admit the virtuosities of all musicians here - they all play wonderfully! "Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All" (2:10) is a logical continuation of previous track. It's a slow track exploring bass guitar, chanting vocals, keyboards / piano and Morris Pert's percussion work.

"Hate Zone" (4:41) starts off with dynamic drumming followed with a stream of music produced from bass guitar, stunning keyboard solo and percussive. It's one of my favorites - because the music is energetic and beautifully composed. Guitar solo is stunning and it reminds me to the work of John McLaughlin or Gary Boyle. The combination of percussive, solid bass lines and improvised keyboard / synthesizer produces a segment with eastern nuance. "Collapsar" (1:35) is a mellow track containing exploration of keyboards and its sound effects that projects a spacey nuance."Disco Suicide" (7:55) starts off with great bass work followed with medium/fast tempo music with wonderful combination of keyboard, guitar and drum. The piano solo is stunning. The music style changes from medium to fast and slow tempo with variations in solo (piano and guitar).

It flows nicely to another excellent track "Orbits" (1:38), continued with "Malaga Virgin" (8:28) - a wonderful track with jazz-rock improvisation music featuring great guitar solo, inventive bass lines, dynamic drumming and stunning keyboard. In "Malaga Virgin" Percy Jones performs his skillful bass guitar work, augmented with sitar and percussive. It's really a great track . "Macrocosm" (7:24) is an energetic jazz-rock fusion music in the vein of Return To Forever featuring fantastic interplay between Goodsall guitar work and Robin Lumley's keyboard. This kind of music that reminds me to the interplay of Al Di Meola with Chick Corea in Return To Forever. An excellent track. The drum work by Phil Collins is also terrific, augmented with Percy Jones inventive bass lines.

. For those of you who love jazz-rock fusion music, this album is highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#42529)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brand X merge a mellow brand of jazz with progressive rock tendencies and come up with a stunning and fresh as fresh album, I say fresh because at this stage of the game the majority of acts who tasted success under the fusion genre earlier in the decade were growing tired and lacking depth as the seventies ran quickly and rock music fragmented. Phil Collins act came relatively late in the day but the music is inspiring and captures a subtle dynamic as well as adding another facet to Collin's bow, and a good one at that. Brand X bridges the gap between Genesis and his solo career while it also closed the door on any creativity he would claim to have to that point. To any normal human being Collin's solo work, though starting with the odd bright spot, is drab to the point of horrific and the mainstream success he has had only punctuates this. But Brand X is hardly Collin' show, the band is well equipped with a talented bunch of artists who make a good job of creating a wide and spacious tone on [i]Moroccan Roll[/i]. John Godsall's blends his guitar as smooth as silk, the intro piece "Sun In The Night" seemed filler to me on first listen but the guitar adds a sweet and uplifting tone to the Eastern (or Moroccan?) promise of the piece before the album starts proper with "Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Already)" followed by its sister track and the wonderful fusion muzak fuzak breeze of "...Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All" before launching through more smooth fusion and even getting funky with "Hate Zone". Keyboard player Robin Lumley gives Brand X extra room with his lines and adds a haunting nuance to the short piece "Collapsar" while the excellently titled "Disco Suicide" also contains some nice piano lines as well as some throbbing bass courtesy of Percy Jones. [i]Moroccan Roll[/i] is a very enjoyable album, released slap bang in the middle of the year broke and became mainstream it would be interesting to hear how it went down. But unlike much from the punk scene, as well as many from the fusion era, the album has aged well and lasted the pace. An album to be played at any time, but specifically winter... or even a Moroccan summer.
Report this review (#46865)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#56605)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second work of BRAND X released in 1976 "Moroccan Roll". It becomes a percussion with five person organization on Morris Pert of SUN TREADER. The content is an exotic and technique jazz-rock. It is a work that also takes also by the Cosmic sound of PINK FLOYD and establishes unique jazz-rock. The masterpiece of the album is a work of Percy Jones "Malaga Virgen".
Report this review (#58597)
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars THese guys were having fun! I don't know if they ever intended for Brand X to be a real working band, or just a whimsical project for a group of hyper-talented musical gurus. Whatever their motivation - everything clicked on Morrocan Roll. Yes, it's more fusion than prog and as such, the playing virtuoso-quality. I think the ideas behind each track are brilliant, but perhaps they didn't know quite where to take the song, or how to finish it. And I say that being only half sure of myself on that one. The opening track, with Phill Collins wailing like a Bedoin is terrific. Great percussion from MORRIS PERT. But my favorite track has to be Disco Suicide!!! Catchy, jazz-fusionesque and definately prog. I love the vox and chimes. Can't stop listening to it. For sure this quasiprog album is a must have for the broad minded prog enthusiast. It's just too good not to have.
Report this review (#89926)
Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Way back when I was an avid devourer of anything produced by any member of Genesis past or present I bought Unorthodox Behaviour, but it didn't really do anything for me. It was a style of music which which I was unfamiliar.

Then one night I heard a radio programme playing Malaga Virgen off "Moroccan Roll" and something clicked. I went out next day to buy the album. I continued to buy anything by Brand X up until "Do They Hurt?" by which time I felt the magic had gone.

But "Moroccan Roll" is a stunner. Phil Collins doing what he always did best (drumming as opposed to making piles of money from pop tunes- though I can't blame him for the latter!). Truly unique and distinctive bass playing from Percy Jones. Maginifcent percussion work from Morris Pert.

If I had to pick one track from the album it would definitely be Malaga Virgen due to its complexity and the way it holds together as a piece, but there's other gems here. Hate Zone for instance is funk gone mad!

Since the demise of my vinyl collection this is the only Brand X album I owned that made across to the CD age, so that marks it out in my mind as something special. A little short of 5 stars possibly, but well worth owning.

Report this review (#105136)
Posted Monday, January 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some 'fusion' albums suffer from technical overkill, and the same is true about certain standard jazz albums. Soloists simply keep jamming relentlessly, and this may seem an amazing display of energy, but the music doesn't take you anywhere. This problem doesn't exist on MOROCCAN ROLL, which (together with Weather Report's BLACK MARKET) must be one of the most poetic fusion albums ever made. It's easy to see why Eno borrowed some of Brand X's musicians on ANOTHER GREEN WORLD and BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE. Apart from executing superb solos on their respective instruments, all of this band's members are adept at creating sonic landscapes. Forgive me if I sound twee, but MOROCCAN ROLL really is the kind of album that takes you on a journey. Thus, Robin Lumley's "Collapsar" comes across as a superb bit of film soundtrack which is performed exclusively on jazzy/proggy keyboards. "Why should I lend you mine" is a fascinating eleven-minute band improvisation, nocturnal in feel and based on a spooky bass riff. It uses some of the techniques developed by Chick Corea's Return to Forever, but far surpasses Corea in loveliness and sensuality. The boisterous "Disco Suicide" features gorgeous piano solos by Lumley, and one of Phil Collins' best ever performances on drums. On "Malaga Virgen" Percy Jones gets the opportunity to shine on fretless bass, but the piece is also blessed with superb performances by Lumley (on mini moog this time) and by lead guitarist John Goodsall.

If you're interested in fusion, or non-vocal prog in general, this album should be top of your list. (There are two brief vocals on MOROCCAN ROLL, but they can safely be ignored.) If you're a Genesis fan, you really shouldn't miss some of Phil Collins' greatest moments. I've known this album for thirty years and it has never let me down - there's far too much going on! Definitely one of the highlights of the 1970s prog canon.

Report this review (#127597)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This IS Jazz Fusion. This I think is one of the quintessential Jazz Fusion albums. Collins' drums are simply amazing and Goodsall's guitar work is perfect everywhere. His guitar is not overpowering, is very atmospheric and is very heavy and rocking in Hate Zone. The keyboard is very jazzy and and very fast. I think the keyboards are the main part of the jazz sound, even though it is not the main part of the band's sound as a whole. The bass is also very rhythmic and even melodic in places. I love the songs where the band has a basic riff and main theme, and breaks off into a fast instrumental section to finally bring the song back to the main theme. The only two I can think of are Disco Suicide and Macrocasm, which are two of my favorites off this album. All of the songs are extremely good with and for the most part are fast, rhythmic pieces. MY favorites are Hate Zone, Disco Suicide, and Macrocasm.
Report this review (#132871)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Are we there yet?

It happens to all of us from time to time. We come across an album that is praised so highly by so many but it means little to us. You think to yourself do I just not get it? Such is the case for me with "Moroccan Roll." This album is a supposed classic featuring stars such as Phil Collins and Percy Jones. Certainly the playing is technically as good as you'd expect but the music does little for me. The tracks seem divided into two styles. Some of the longer pieces are elaborate shredding wankfests, with quasi-cerebral setups and performances that would inspire carnival barkers a la "ladies and gentlemen, for one dollar step behind the curtain and watch the stars show off!" Harsh yes, but that's how I feel listening to these yawn-inducing displays of flash and pomposity. The other shorter sections offer the contrast of the chill-out moments, where the playing will feature much softer and slower parts. The problem with these is that they don't really go anywhere and they don't move me. Most of these songs sound impressive at first listen, on the surface, but compared to other fusion albums they are just so sterile. There are a few moments where I enjoyed what was going on, usually the spacier sections or quieter moments like the nice but short keyboard piece "Collapsar." It may well be the case that I just don't get "Moroccan Roll" and I admit that possibility freely, but from my perspective this album is a whole lotta chest beating without much of emotional importance to be imparted on the listener. The talents of the musicians are unquestionable but the results are another matter. Just about everything I've heard in this genre lately I find preferable to Brand X. Oregon is more relaxing and organic. Area is more daring and in-your-face. Esagono is more melodic and emotional. Lotus and Ohm are more fun, and Finnforest is much more beautiful. Brand X leaves me with less enjoyment in comparison, the only thing positive I can say is that the players are very talented and I'll give them the third star for that despite my obvious lack of enthusiasm. But remember, most reviewers think this is the cat's meow so I am a lone voice in the wilderness questioning Brand X's infallibility.

Report this review (#161786)
Posted Thursday, February 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really enjoyed the debut album from Brand X and I found this effort to be a disappointment. The first track contains annoying moaning...... (This gives the album it's 'Moroccan' flavour)....but it takes away from the musical experience for me...... 'Hate Zone' is an enjoyable funky trip.... 'Disco Suicide' is definitely not disco! and has some very nice piano sections... Overall there is still enough fusion goodness here to bump the rating up to 4 stars.....Could have done without the first track though....
Report this review (#167588)
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I call this Fusion music with a sense of humor.

I got this album maybe 1 year after it was originally released on LP, back in '77 or '78. I think it was the very first Brand X album I got (either this one or their debut, Unorthodox Behaviour), and I got it because I was a huge fan of Phil Collin's drumming.

After all these years, I can consistently say this record is one of my top 5 favorites (of all genres) of all time. It's just phenomenal. It has ALL the instrumental elements that I crave: some of Collin's best, relentless drumming ever, Percy Jone's fantastic fretless work (whose abilities seem to have been overshadowed by Jaco's, since they both seemed to arrive on the scene around the same time -- of course, Jaco was a madman, but Percy rates right along with him!), Goodsall's fluid picking styles, and Robin Lumley's tremendous keyboard work on his arsenal of instruments contemporary for the time (Rhodes, Arp, Mini-Moog, Acoustic Piano, etc.) Morris Pert's expanded role as percussionist was certainly welcome, as well.

These guys can all play, but what stands out about Brand X above all their contemporary Fusion peers (Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Ponty) is the sense of humor that seems to run through all their music. You can clearly pick up on the Monty Python influence when you read the liner notes (hell, Michael Palin actually WROTE the liner notes for Do They Hurt!), but it's actually there in the music, too -- check it out. (I ALMOST lumped Weather Report in with those other guys, but Zawinul definitely had a little bit of humor in his playing, as well.)

All 4 of the original guys contribute individually-written tunes (although something tells me that Collin's 2 segueing tracks were more of a band jam/collaboration, even though he got the sole credit). Every tune stands out on this album. Goodsall's Sun In The Night -- the first BRAND X track with vocals on it by Collins -- in Sanskrit, no less -- contains a great, mad Sitar solo. As good as it is, it is actually the weakest track on the album. Collin's contribution, Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Off Already) into Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All is the song with the longest title -- and also just happens to be the longest track (well, TWO tracks!) on the album -- it clocks in at a combined length of 13:26. It slithers in with a bizarre bit of synth, and then everyone else creeps in and bubbles along -- until this first section suddenly stops; the band then float into a very pensive, quiet section of the tune (Morris Pert's percussive work stands out here, and it IS sweet). A few sudden explosive attacks, and then it fades into Part 2, a very atmospheric piano part with Collin's wordless vocals, for 2 minutes, before the song fades away. I imagine most fusion fans might not dig it, but I find it beautifully hypnotic, a standout moment on the album.

Goodsall's Hate Zone kicks into gear with a solo by Collins, and then a hot, noisy groove by all, with more soloing by Lumley and Goodsall, and into a bizarre heavy rock-crescendo of an ending. Lumley's brief 95-second keyboard interlude Collapsar concludes side one of the original vinyl album.

After all that just went on, it actually gets better. Disco Suicide opens up Side 2 of the record, with Collins tapping out an intro on the half-closed hi-hat -- it's great on CD; if you listen closely, you can hear him counting this one off, onnnnnnne, twoooooooo, threeeeeeee, fouuuuuuurrrrr. Lumley's second track on the album, it's made up of several different sections that just somehow flow one into the other naturally (how the hell do they do it?!) This tune is one that they played quite a bit live on the '79 tour, but it never sounded quite like it does in the studio, and I have to say I prefer the studio version, with the long, almost-majestic fade out (complete with MORE wordless vocals from Robin and John).

A brief Bass solo with Autoharp accompaniment (all by Jones), Orbits precedes the classic studio version of one of the more well-known BRAND X tunes, Malaga Virgen (or Virgin, depending on the version you might have -- on the original album it's spelled with an E, as well as on Livestock and Trilogy, but on Timeline it's spelled with an I ... go figure.) This is another one of those classic magical moments, where everyone is JUST ON -- so much so, you might find yourself laughing at the synchronicity -- it's so good it's ridiculous. Then, when everyone is all hot and cooking, it comes to a crashing halt. At the 4:29 mark, Jones plays one of the coolest, most slithery bass lines I've ever heard. Lumley's string synth comes in, and John does that really fast, acoustic, alternate picking thing he does -- this is just one of those moments, man, that has to be heard to be believed! Then at 7:03, you hear Goodsall's evil electric guitar line creep in -- the song starts to fade -- then they all come back in and, just to show off, they deliver one last really fast well-coordinated run -- just to show you they can. After 8 & 1/2 minutes of pure groove, the song ends.

And now for one of the coolest Rock/Jazz/Fusion tunes ever, Goodsall's Macrocosm. John just fades in, playing one of the coolest arpeggio riffs ever -- check out the chords he's making on the intro to this tune, with the time alternating in 8/8 and 7/8, then Robin and Percy come in, playing the melody, and Collins holding it all together SO beautifully -- again, it's just ridiculous, and (of course!) they are all spot on! A bit of a transition, in 4/4 and an occasional measure of 5/4, and then they're off to the races, John & Robin trading off licks. Finally, back to the beginning again, until it all comes crashing down into one final, absolutely brilliant explosion! I believe at least one B1 Bomber was destroyed in the making of this record.

If you like different time signatures, a variety of fast and slow grooves, and excellent musicianship, you'll find it here. These guys don't screw around -- they mean business. This collection of recordings proves it. If you wanna check 'em out, THIS is one helluva place to start.

Report this review (#180111)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars For their second album BRAND X have added a percussionist. I really enjoyed their debut "Unorthodox Behaviour" a lot, but this album has taken a long time to win me over. I think it's partly because the first half of the album in my opinion is much weaker than the second half.

"Sun In The Night" really gets things started on the wrong foot for me.This is an ethnic flavoured tune with Goodsall playing sitar. Sure it's catchy, I just don't like it at all. Phil adds some foriegn vocals but you can't even tell it's him. "Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Off Already)..." features some prominant bass from Jones as the drums play lightly and steadily. Other sounds come and go. It settles 5 minutes in before kicking back in after 8 1/2 minutes. It calms down again quickly. Liquid keys are good. The guitar makes some noise 10 1/2 minutes in to the end. "...Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All" and the previous track are Collins' compositions.This one has a lot of atmosphere in it. "Hate Zone" opens amazingly with a Collins drum solo. The band comes in before a minute. It gets fuller 1 1/2 minutes in. I like this funky tune.

"Collapar" is a very cool sounding song but too short. This is keyboardist Lumley's composition as well as the next one "Disco Suicide". Both are great. The second one is jazzy with some atmospheric keys on it. The tempo and mood keeps changing though. "Orbits" is just Jones and his bass making some noise. "Malaga Virgen" opens like a house on fire before settling somewhat. I like this one. Collins and Goodsall shine. Oh and Jones' bass is all over it. Some nice piano before 6 minutes. The guitar starts to rip it up 8 minutes in to the end as Collins pounds away with precision. Nice. "Macrocosm" is a fantastic song to end the album with. I love the way it starts,great sound. The guitar makes some noise. It starts to pick up 3 minutes in with some excellent guitar as he sets the soundscape on fire. Collins is outstanding as usual. It ends with the sound of people applauding then a jet diving followed by an explosion. That's called a big finish.

I swear this album gets better as it plays out. Well except for "Orbits" that should have been near the start (song #2) of the record. Haha. I'm giving it 4 stars but I refuse to listen to the first song anymore. In fact if there was a way to erase it I would. The rest of the music is very good in my opinion.

Report this review (#196961)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars This is supposed to be the big Kahuna. The masterpiece of the band, and I understand why many consider it as such, but in my mind it is the first album that really takes the cake... I´d love to review it, but I read somewhere that you are not taken seriously if you keep spitting 5 stars out like a child reviewing gummibears: the green is a five, the red is a five, but the yellow is a yuokii one. Nobody ever likes the yellow ones, why do they insist on making them? If you ever doubted the drumming skills of Phil Collins, you should check this one out as it unveils some of the most intricate drumming he has ever played on record - jumping from slick and cool background rhythms to over the top volcanic eruptions. What I love about his way of playing, is that he is able to blend the technical side of things together with an almost supernatural sense of melody. Some musicians show off. They´ll do some kind of out-of-this-world-impossible-to-do stunt, that will steer you away from the focus of the music and ultimately end up confusing you. Collins is THE master of accentuating the other musicians involved, which Genesis should be the perfect example of, but in Brand X the style is much more loosee-goosee and jazzy - that he from time to time breaks away from the groove(still keeping it though), and goes all out Keith Moon on his poor kit. -Just listen to the closing track, and you´ll know what I´m on about...

The line up is the same as "Unorthodox Behaviour" - with the inclusion of Morris Pert on percussion, who does a wonderful job helping the band achieve the mystical Arabian/African vibe that flavours parts of this release. -The opening song and Disco Suicide is the best examples of this, and somehow he feels more like a part of the band in these sections IMO. There is no getting around the mighty Percy Jones, who is an (almost) unsung virtuoso on the bass. This guy needs all the praise he can get! He sounds like a fusion of John Entwistle and James Jamerson popped in the oven on full with a dash of jazz. I want to give this 5 stars, but due to the fact that the longest song (which I incidentally also had the highest expectations for) lacks direction and the UMPPPFFH that almost every other song on this album is bursting with. I´ll have to restrain myself and only burp 4 big ones up from the deep.

Report this review (#251475)
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After the excellent debut album it felt like an obvious choice to follow up that great experience by expanding my collection with their sophomore release from Brand X.

This was a bit of a let down compared to the debut, mostly due to Phil Collins long composition Why Should I Lend You Mine... which drags on for too long. The album has a much mellower feel to it and the band just doesn't bite as much as their did previously. It's not until the end of the first side that we get a really energetic performance. Still once Hate Zone hits the speakers almost everything feels forgiven and the band reloads themselves for another round with the short atmospheric piece titled Collapsar.

Overall I liked the idea of having a few shorter compositions (1-2 min) mixed in with the lengthier tracks since they work as traditions through the journey. Disco Suicide is the definite stand out track and marks my favorite performance out of the bunch. This 8 minute composition shifts gears quite a few times maintaining a smooth and organic flow for everytime Brand X goes through the motions.

Even though the album does come close to obtaining an excellent rating from me, I feel that it would be unfair to Unorthodox Behaviour if I rank this performance just as highly. The few highlights featured here are even more memorable than the once on the debut album but I lack a flow that even the shorter transition tracks can't create. It's almost as if the band couldn't decide where they wanted to take their music and the end result suffers a little because of that.

***** star songs: Collapsar (1:35) Disco Suicide (7:55)

**** star songs: Sun In The Night (4:25) ...Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All (2:10) Hate Zone (4:41) Orbits (1:38) Malaga Virgin (8:28) Macrocosm (7:24)

*** star songs: Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Off Already) (11:16)

Total rating: 3,96

Report this review (#255731)
Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just when you think you've followed all the fusion greats (di Meola, Jaco, Clarke, Corea, Hammer, Cobham, etc) throughout various bands and affiliations, you can still look forward to oddballs such as Brand X for another dose of (for the most part) great fusion.

Highlights. Hate Zone is a great song, and in some places is one hardcore, strut-your-stuff funky track. Plenty of bass slapping, nice hand-drums, and a great spacey synth solo to go with a toe-tapping melody. Macrocosm moves away from funk and is one of a select few songs that stack up with Mahavishnu Orchestra's most intricate yet fiery output. It features a spacey groove in odd-time, followed by frenzied freakouts by all members, followed by a return to the main theme, completed with a giant explosion (both musically AND literally--you'll see what I mean).

Other notables: Disco Suicide is a nice try to do something a little more structured and warm-sounding, but perhaps that's why it's only good and not great. Malaga Virgen has plenty good stuff, such as frenzied playing and nice flamenco burst from Goodsall, but it barely hangs together as a cohesive song.

Each member makes substantial contributions, especially in being able to provide interesting rhythm work as well as the ability to step in with a killer solo or fill when necessary. I have to give Collins specific respect here, because in Moroccan Roll he's content to chug away lightly but firmly (always with great cymbal work here as well), but when he gets in there for a fill, it's a full-on attack with no hesitation. He really was a fantastic drummer back in the day.

Overall, Brand X's best, though it's only great in parts. I like this effort so much largely because of the team contributions--unlike much fusion, in which each member tries to play faster and louder than the others, Brand X maintains a delicate touch to supplement the bombast.

Report this review (#282128)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Second album from the fusion supergroup Brand X. The sound has mellowed out a bit and does a dangerous dance around some of the cheesy pitfalls of fusion. In generally it dodges all traps gracefully, but it doesn't list as a genre top release for me.

You got to be in the mood for the opener Sun In The Night. Both its nonsensical title, the sitar, the Indo influenced melodies and Collins' whiny vocals give it a Yes-y vibe reminding me of Topographic Oceans, a similar touch reoccurs at the end of Disco Suicide.

The remainder of the album goes through the known jazz-rock motions: some atmospheric pieces like Why Should I Lend You Mine, funky fusion as on Hate Zone and room for shredding on Malaga Virgen. With Macrocosm the album ends in full Mahavishnu mode, but especially during the solos, the inevitable comparison clearly shows the great quality gap between both. If Mahavishnu shreds with a passion, this is note assembly with a certain lack of depth and effectiveness.

A good fusion album but nothing stellar. If you want to hear Percy Jones and John Goodsall in more flourishing circumstances, check out the album Progressivity from Tunnels, also on PA.

Report this review (#284830)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars At times this is my favorite Brand X album, at other times I prefer Masques. Either way, this is an amazing performance by the entire band. John Goodsall is great on both guitar and sitar (an instrument I usually find annoying), Percy Jones is, as usual, astounding, Robin Lumley has amazingly nimble keyboard fingers, Morris Pert's percussion add depth to the band's sound, and Phil Collins the drummer shows why it should have been Phil Collins the singer who retired from the music business.

To me, this band belongs up there with the greats of the fusion world, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever, and the like. The songs are, as usual for Brand X, high speed precision fusion. Just what I like.

Report this review (#296925)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Brand X's most famous album but in my opinion not nearly as strong as the previous release. This album is much more experimental than Unorthodox Behaviour with songs like the opener which is a middle eastern themed track featuring experimental vocals provided by Phil Collins. Another experimental moment is Orbits, a Percy Jones Bass workout featuring just the Bass guitar and some percussion sounds in the background.

Percy Jones and Phil Collins feature prominently in all the music on this album more than Unorthodox Behaviour and Lumley and Goodsall are less the centre pieces of each song with Jones offering further developed incredible bass playing all through which is very prominent in all the songs, particularly Malaga Virgen which is one of the highlights of this album.

Why Should I Lend You Mine shows the more mellow side of Brand X's music with a song that progresses from slow mellow acoustic jazz to energetic Fusion in the course of it's 11 minutes. More is put into song arrangements on this record which is very much demonstrated in this and Disco Suicide which is another lengthier track featuring incredible playing from all musicians.

For those who want to hear developed music with more emotion this record definitely offers this perfectly, but if you want the true spirit of Brand X and Jazz Fusion Unorthodox Behaviour is definitely the record to get. This effort deserves 4 Stars for it's very well arranged and executed jazz fusion but it is not a masterpiece.

Report this review (#409288)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The second of Brand X's golden trilogy and their most famous son.

It is essentially the same band, but there is enough change here to differentiate it from it's older brother: first of all, percussionist Morris Pert is added to enrich the sonic picture; secondly, while Collins's drums were the center of the soundscape on Unorthodox Behaviour, now they're put in the background, serving more as a support for the other instruments; and last but not least, the music is more diverse and better written.

Morrocan Roll may have all of the attributes from above, but, for me, what really puts Unorthodox Behaviour over it is the fillerish quality of some passages: stuff like "Orbits" is simply tedious and the repetitive sections of "Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You Have Broken Yours Off Already)?" leave me cold, and yet, I quite like "Collapsar", and "Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All..." is elegant enough even if the riff is ripped-off "The Cinema Show".

As for the other songs: "Sun In The Night" begins the list of Collins-sung-songs-on-Brand-X-records, but differently from the awful "Soho" and the bland "Don't Make Waves", this is a brilliant track, with the singable sanskrit lyrics and a lightspeed sitar solo; the drum solo opening "Hatezone" is very nice and the tune itself is a heavy metal funky gem if such thing is possible; "Disco Suicide" is Zappa-like in the early stages, but the main riff in the middle and it's grand finale reprise in the end comes from a different place altogether; "Malaga Virgen" is typical Percy, something which means mindblowing in my book, that said, after it's shimmering freak out beginning and energetic sections afterwards it can't help but drag during the unaccompanied atmospheric bass solo in the middle, but it thankfully returns to form if only to end all of the sudden; and then there's "Macrocosm", the jewel of the album for me, menacing and playful at the same time, made even more surprising because of Goodsall's solo on the acoustic guitar, Lumley's atmospherics and the 'f**k it all' ending.

Brand X was growing to something bigger than their debut pointed at, but one thing they didn't knew very well was how to take away the filler, and that would become more and more common in their future works.

Report this review (#453171)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Call me controversial, but I think this is far more enjoyable than 'Genesis'!

Thick with percussion, due to the mostly reprehensible Phil Collins - who for once, pulls out all the stops on this pretty spectacular little album that I held no hopes for whatsoever.

Quite similar in many respects to 'Weather Report' with that brilliant fretless bass pioneered by Jaco Pastorius and later by Mick Karn. An easy listening album that can well be listened to late at night. Collins does get a bit carried away with himself at some points, but in general this is a nice laid back affair with nothing too intrusive which holds a nice fusion ambience throughout.

There's plenty of Electric Piano, fingered guitar and 'slappy brushed drums' which all add up to an excellent album.

A good safe intro point for anyone interested in Fusion Jazz.

Report this review (#588849)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Second album from this famous jazz fusion band named Moroccan roll from 1977, is another worthy offer in their catalogue. With an intelligent title of the album and with plenty of memorable pieces, shows that Brand X never stops amaze me with thir music. Lots of complex, twists passages, with musicianship of the highest calibre. Opening with Sun in the night a very good somehow a typical for Brans X sound, but with the second tune a nearly 12 of pure bliss and the album goes in this way untill the end with another highlight Malaga virge. All in all, while is a fairly solid album, I prefer their previous one, much more, I'm more attached by Unorthodox beheviour sound and overall atmosphere. 4 stars for this excellent jazz fusion that stood the test of time very well.
Report this review (#832163)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The big names in Brand X'es line-up and the strong debut were good reasons to secure an extensive UK tour for the band.At the end of the year Brand X entered the Panavision room at Trident Studios, London to record their second album.This time the line-up was expanded with the addition of Morris Pert on percussion, leader of Sun Treader.The recordings were finished in January 77', the production was made by Dennis MacKay and ''Moroccan roll'' saw the light on Charisma Records in UK and Canada and Passport for the US market.

The tribal title and the addition of Pert offer enough suspicions for a slight change in style and the best example is the opening Ethnic-oriented ''Sun in the night'' with its Sanskrit lyrics, sung by Collins, and the extended sitar and percussion use, not really suitable to the band's aura.The rest of the album has well-hidden ethnic vibes as well, especially in some bass parts, but most of it offers the familar and airy Jazz/Fusion of Brand X, albeit in a smoother and more relaxed style, where dynamics are rather absent.There are also some dominant funky moves here and there, however ''Moroccan roll'' still possesses the virtuosic principles of ''Unorthodox behaviour'' with the work of Robin Lumley on synthesizers, piano and analog keyboards being trully efficient and John Goodsall delivering some really fine jazzy solos with his guitar.Brand X produce endlessly smooth interplays, fast paces and well-crafted instrumental solos, while Collins' drumming seems once again unmistakeable.A couple of bombastic tunes and more grandiose plays in an orchestral/pre-New Age mood proove the band's diversity, but there are seem also to be traces of a more compatible sound at moments with a pair of cheesy tunes or pale keyboard parts contained.

To my ears ''Moroccan roll'' is a quite uneven effort.It contains some of Brand X finest moments with flawless interplays and solos, but also some rather uninteresting and colorless tunes.Still the first outcome and later and the incredible technical sufficiency of the band make this one easily recommended.

Report this review (#1015436)
Posted Friday, August 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I actually mildly prefer this one to Unorthodox Behaviour, since it finds Brand X emerging from the shadow of the session work they'd been brought together to do and stamp their own identity on their material. Whereas the debut album had mixed up straight-ahead fusion with instrumental passages previously developed backing material like Eno's Another Green World, resulting in a bit of a hodge-podge of material, this album benefits from the Middle Eastern musical influences the title and cover art implies, adding a world music touch to proceedings. We're still very much in fusion territory, but Brand X are now plotting their own distinctive course there.
Report this review (#1914847)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2018 | Review Permalink

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