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Anthony Phillips Recording Compendium
The Last Domino? Tour
Brand X Special: An Urorthodox History
Peter and the Wolf

Jack Lancaster & Robin Lumley:
Peter And The Wolf (1975)

More than a glimpse of Brand X!


On the occasion of the 2021/22 reissues of the two Lancaster/Lumley albums on Esoteric Recordings, remastered from the original tapes for the first time, it is especially worthwhile for fans of Phil Collins' second band in the 70s - Brand X - to take a closer look at these works from 1975 and 1976, because the complete Brand X clan plays the music here! It is probably known that keyboardist Robin Lumley was one of the founding members of Brand X, but saxophonist and Bloodwyn Pig co-founder Jack Lancaster is probably not known to everyone. But he, too, was part of the musicians' collective's inner circle from the very beginning, among many other musical activities. You can read a very informative interview with him on DME - Let It Rock.


Bob Sergeant - First Starring RoleLancaster and Lumley had already worked together on music for Rank Organization shorts in the late 1960s, and both can first be heard on the title track of the 1974 debut album First Starring Role by Lancaster's then bandmate in the Mick Abrahams Band, Bob Sargeant. By this time, a live jam band called Karass had formed with the pair, which included drummer Chick Webb, their mutual bassist friend Percy Jones and Atomic Rooster guitarist John Goodsall. The circle expanded with varying musician guests at live gigs and at some point these jams were also moved to Island Studios, where the six-member original line-up of what would later become Brand X finally emerged in the course of the year - albeit without Lancaster. And after Phil Collins had joined the collective as a new drummer at the turn of the year and the first recordings were made that winter, Collins' commitments with Genesis in the spring of 1975 led to an enforced break, which Lancaster and Lumley used to deepen their songwriting partnership.


Originally planned as a jazz adaptation for an animated film, which did not materialise for financial reasons, the two attempted to realise the so to speak first "children's musical" Peter And The Wolf by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev from 1936 as a pure audio version in jazz-rock garb and had the idea of setting up a record of musical guest musicians for this, who were to musically interpret various roles of the piece. In addition to musicians who were already friends, such as the Brand X rhythm section Goodsall/Jones/Collins, Bob Sargeant or Bill Bruford, they were also able to inspire a lot of new faces for the project, such as the then Thin Lizzy guitarist The Soul Searchers - Scaramouche/Head StandGary Moore.

And even before Peter And the Wolf took on a more concrete form, Lancaster and Lumley started a spin-off project with Moore called The Soul Searchers. With the later Brand X producer Dennis Mackay, they recorded the two Lumley/Lancaster compositions Scaramouche and Head Start for a single release on EMI - with Goodsall on second guitar, Jones on bass and Bill Bruford on drums.

After a stylistic realignment with Eddie Howell - The Eddie Howell Gramohone RecordEddie Howell - The Eddie Howell Gramohone Recordpersonal consequences at Brand X, remaining members Goodsall, Jones, Lumley and Collins initially worked with Lancaster in June and July as backing band for a production by singer/songwriter Eddie Howell, whose album The Eddie Howell Gramophone Record was produced by Lumley and Mackay.

Produzent Dennis Mackay und Jack Lancaster in den Trident Studios 1975

After a stylistic realignment with This was followed by the collective's pending recording at London's Trident Studios for Jack Lancaster & Robin Lumley's Peter And The Wolf mammoth project, which RSO Records boss Chris Youle was keen on. Production was by the pair themselves and Dennis Mackay. The music was entirely by Lancaster and Lumley, using some of the prominent leitmotifs from Prokofiev's original. And the busy Viv Stanshall was engaged as narrator as a "red thread".


01 Introduction (1:05)

With gentle acoustic guitar picking by Gary Moore and a melody line sung by Julie Tippett (wife of ex-King Crimson keyboardist Keith Tippett) - supported by Lancaster's Lyricon, Lumley's Rhodes piano dabs and dreamy chimes by Erika Michaelenko, this short intro whisks us away on the fantasy journey ahead until narrator Viv Stanshall sets the mood for the story.


02 Peter's Theme (2:10)

"...this is Peter!" The main protagonist of the story is introduced here musically with Prokoviev's popular motif, but intoned by Pete Haywood's casual steel guitar and embedded in a driving, funky band track with Percy Jones and Cozy Powell as rhythm section and Gary Moore on guitar. This is joined by clavinet and synth strings from Lumley, over which legend Manfred Mann is allowed to conjure up a glorious Moog solo, and Lancaster's sax dabs.


03/04 Bird And Peter (0:38 + 0:59)

Stanshall introduces Peter's friend the bird, who chirps away virtuously on Procul Harum keyboard man Gary Brooker's synthesizer. The two go for a walk - musically too, as the band kicks back in - now even groovier with Brand X'ers Lumley, Jones, John Goodsall and Phil Collins, while Brooker and Heywood toss each other the musical balls.

[Note: Unfortunately, from track indexes 04 to 06 do not match the track titles, as the intro to Bird And Peter was marked as a separate track and Pond and Duck And Bird as one track]


05 Duck Theme (0:49)

After Stanshall introduces the scene, you are introduced to the duck swimming in the pond by Gary Moore as a wah-wah guitar theme, also accompanied by Moore's softly played acoustic guitar, Lumley's Rhodes piano and the soft bass of Lancaster's ex-Bloodwyn Pig colleague Andy Pyle.


06 Pond / Duck And Bird (2:08)

Improvised piano runs by ex-King Crimson keyboard man Keith Tippett, gentle vibraphone sounds by Collins and dreamy chimes by Michaelenko underpin the dialogue between duck and bird narrated by Stanshall, and lead over to the already intoned Duck Theme, supplemented with solo interludes by "bird" Gary Brooker - until a new character enters the scene...


07 Cat Dance (2:37)

The cat creeping around the pond is here transformed into Prokoviev's cat motif in bluesy guise by violin legend St├ęphane Grappelli, accompanied by bluesy rhythmic guitar from ex-Ten Years After frontman Alvin Lee and pumping double bass from Dave Marquee.


08 Cat And Duck (1:32)

The "cat-and-duck" game gets lively with fast funk from the X-Boys Lumley, Jones, Goodsall and Collins and a musical duel between Moore's wah-wah guitar and the violin played by Henry Lowther, who actually became known as a jazz trumpeter.


09 Grandfather (3:04)

The grandfather, startled by the spectacle, enters the stage in the form of a 6/8 blues played heavily by Lumley, Jones, Goodsall and Collins with sax theme by Lancaster and slide guitar interjections by Moore. Stanshall as the grandfather warns Peter about the second main protagonist of the story...to no avail. A variation of Peter's theme augurs recklessness, and again with the 6/8 blues - here with lyric solo - the grandfather gives up unnerved.


10 Cat (0:34)

The cat is not impressed by all this and seeks a quieter place with the cat motif by Prokoviev interpreted by Grappelli and the bass by Marquee.


11 Wolf (0:46)

Things get menacing when the wolf finally makes an appearance, with an eerie interpretation of the wolf motif by Prokoviev. With all sorts of synth sounds from ex-Roxy Music man Brian Eno and Lumley, coupled with spooky percussion from Collins, the piece does justice to the evil wolf.


12 Wolf And Duck (3:42)

The duck takes flight! Accordingly, things get hectic musically with Lumley, Jones and Collins, who embed the escape intoned solo by sought-after session guitarist Chris Spedding, interrupted by "Wolf" Eno's nasty synth escapades. For one of them, it doesn't end well...


13 Threnody For A Duck (1:51)

An obituary for the duck is brought to us by the English Chorale, arranged by Geoff Leech.


14 Wolf Stalks (0:57)

The period of mourning for Peter and his friends is short-lived, for once again the wolf lies in wait and bares his teeth. See Wolf.


15 Cat In A Tree (2:13)

For the cat, it's first shoo shoo up the tree, accompanied by Grappelli's matching violin. And the wolf then creeps around the tree, scenting, when Lumley, Jones, Goodsall and Collins accompany the excited bird song of the Moog synth with a heavy groove.


16 Peter's Chase (1:46)

"...we need a Rope!" Stanshall quotes the fearless Peter, when in the background a typical Brand X jazz rock number in 6/8 time rolls on with the four and translates Peter's rescue operation into sounds.


17 Capture Of Wolf (1:26)

A dreamy variation of Peter's Theme with Lumley on piano and synth and Lancaster's Lyricon sounds and alternates with dramatic parts with Eno's synths and Collins' percussion to musically depict Peter's wolf-catching venture.


18 Hunters (0:59)

With timpani (Powell, Collins, Bill Bruford and Jon Hisemen) and trumpets (Lancaster and Lowther) the alarmed hunters run in and wonder how a boy like Peter could catch a wolf.


19 Rock And Roll Celebration (2:38)

This has to be celebrated! Preferably with a real rock'n'roll number with Lancaster's songwriter colleague Bernie Frost on the mic, Moore on guitar, Lumley on piano, Collins on drums, Pyle on bass and Lancaster on lyric and saxophone!


20 Duck Escape (1:11)

And to everyone's surprise - narrator Stanshall lets us know - the duck, already pronounced dead, escapes the wolf's digestive tract and slips out of its tormentor's maw straight back into the pond. Thus the Duck Theme also gets its well-deserved reprise.


21 Final Theme (5:07)

The grand finale makes its way into the ears with a powerful groove and uplifting piano chords - played by Lumley, Jones, Collins and Moore - with some motif reprises by Lancaster, before Stanshall lets us know with an unmistakable "... and that is the end of THIS story..." to let us know that this musical journey is coming to an end, and then he really ramps up the bombast with all kinds of anthemic "Peter is a hero!" vocals from Julie Tippett, Bernie Frost, Bob Seargant and Erika Michaelenko.


Fazit:

The almost 40-minute work is an ambitious and entertaining conversion of the classic Peter & the Wolf. If you are a friend of Brand X's output and don't mind the extended instrumentation such as saxophone, violin, double bass or vocals and can also allow musical excursions into poppier or more experimental areas, you will certainly enjoy this concept album. The question whether the album was only meant for children can be answered with a decisive "yes". Even if the narrative voice clearly caters to the young listener, the musical content is quite suitable for the adult ear. And it is definitely exciting to listen to Lumley, Jones, Goodsall and Collins warming up for Unorthodox Behaviour. It's also nice that they've made an effort with the reissue in the digipak, which clearly gains in value through the remastering of the original tapes, the detailed restoration of the artwork and detailed liner notes with Lancaster interview.


Brand X (1975/76): Jones, Lumley, Collins, Goodsall

Brand X - Orthodox BehaviourAfter Peter And The Wolf with Brand X, Lumley went into the hot phase. They worked on seven tracks, which were finally recorded in September/October 1975 together with producer Dennis Mackay and also feature Jack Lancaster on the track Touch Wood.


Author: Steffen Gerlach

Peter And The Wolf
has been remastered and rereleased via CherryRed at the end of 2021.
See also our website special about Brand X: An Unorthodox History



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