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Brand X Special: An Urorthodox History
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Brand X Unorthodox Behaviour

Brand X - Unorthodox Behaviour

The 1976 debut of the fusion project


Steffen Gerlach’s brilliant history of Brand X on our fanclub site outlines that the band was formed in 1975 by John Goodsall (guitar) and Percy Jones (bass). During the recording sessions for Brian Eno’s Another Green World Jones met “our” Phil who took the drummer’s position that was originally planned to be taken by Bill Bruford.

In June 1976 the band released their first album, Unorthodox Behaviour. The trio was supported by Robin Lumley (keyboards) and Jack Lancaster (soprano saxophone). The album consists of seven tracks, is 41:01 minutes long and came out on the Genesis label Charisma Records.

The 70’s jazz fusion flavour is audible right away when Nuclear Burn (6:23) begins. You hear and feel that the bass is not played by an ordinary bass player. Percy Jones has his very own sound and he plays quite fast. Guitar and keyboards only accompany him until the chorus (if you can speak of a chorus in an instrumental) when Goodsall (guitar) and Lumley (keyboards) take over the track! Collins’s drum sound is quite different from his Genesis sound. He works the snare and the hi-hat a lot and not so much with the toms. You can hear it here in the opening track what a fantastic and sympathetic drummer he used to be. The track ends in what seems to be a jam, but probably was written like that. You can hear the influence of Pat Metheny and Weather Report. It is jazz, but it is also rock – jazz rock or fusion music.

Brand X 1976Euthanasia Waltz (5:42) is much calmer. An acoustic guitar is the dominant instrument before a well-rounded solo on the electric piano comes in and leads the track into a seemingly improvised jam before the track returns to the electric guitar. Phil whirls across the snare and adds highlights on the ride cymbals. The remarkable bass comes in only in the second third of the track and plays a solo. In the end the contemplative initial motive returns on the acoustic guitar.

Born Ugly (8:18) is the second longest track on the album. A very groovy number. It is best described as a session with a structure. The middle part is a bit psychedelic as the band weave a large soundscape with growing intensity. Phil then destroys this calm with his drums. The guitar solo may have been influenced by Indian music; in fact, it even sounds like a sitar in places. The track sounds like a complete improvisation by musicians who already rely blindly on each other on this their first album.

Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria (4:30) is one of the shorter tracks. It has a slow groove. Phil’s drums are in the front; he plays a number of riffs on the toms. There is an obvious intention to give each musician more or less the same time in the centre spot. The album does not contain any track that is dominated by just one instrument.

The title track is the longest on the record (8:29). It begins quiet and even tentative and builds up a tension that is broken up suddenly by Phil’s drumming. A dialogue develops between the guitar and the keyboards; bass and drums occasionally pop in. Collins and Jones work together marvellously. This is another track that sounds like an improvised jam that all the musicians really enjoy. Some listeners may find the track too long with too many repetitions. The band really let down their hair on this one!

CoverRunning On Three is a shorter, fast track in which bass and drums play intriguing roles. The keyboards share the melodic work; a guitar solo rocks the middle bridge. The overall impression is a jazz jam.

The final track of the debut album is called Touch Wood. It begins with some (seemingly) chaotic acoustic guitar over ethereal piano sounds. Half the track passes before something like a structure emerges. A soprano saxophone comes in. The bass is played like a percussive instrument. There are no drums. The only percussion instrument you hear – briefly – is a shaker that oscillates between the left and right speakers. The track fades after 3:04 minutes and leaves the listener with silence.


The fact that all tracks were credited to Phil Collins, John Goodsall, Robin Lumley and Percy Jones supports the notion that this album came from jams. 


All in all, this is a well-done instrumental debut album. You feel that the musicians are very much in tune with each other. It seems that all tracks were developed from jam sessions and structured later (at least a bit). Phil Collins is on top of his drumming game. Despite his fame with Genesis he does not play himself into the foreground, but you feel how much he enjoyed making this music that was so different from Genesis. 


Tracklisting:

Nuclear Burn

(Collins, Goodsall, Jones, Lumley) (6:23)

Euthanasia Waltz

(Lumley, Collins, Goodsall, Jones) (5:42)

Born Ugly

(Jones, Collins, Goodsall, Lumley) (8:14)

Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria

(Goodsall, Collins, Jones, Lumley) (4:30)

Unorthodox Behaviour

(Collins, Goodsall, Jones, Lumley) (8:29)

Running On Three

(Jones, Collins, Goodsall, Lumley) (4:38)

Touch Wood

(Collins, Goodsall, Jones, Lumley) (3:04)


Recording date: September/October 1975

Recording location: Trident Studios, London

Produced by: Brand X & Dennis Mackay

Performed by: John Goodsall, Percy Jones, Robin Lumley, Phil Collins feat. Jack Lancaster

First official release: 18th June 1976 – Brand X Unorthodox Behaviour (UK LP/Charisma CAS 1117)

Brand X

 

by Markus Scharpey (07/2019), English by Martin Klinkhardt


Links:
Brand X | An Unorthodox History
Brand X | But Wait ... There's More (2017 live album review)
Brand X | Nuclear Burn (4CD set album review)
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