Thursday, May 19, 2016

Brand X - 1979 - Product

Brand X 

01. Don't Make Waves (5:08)
02. Dance of the Illegal Aliens (6:52)
03. Soho (3:47)
04. Not Good Enough- See Me! (7:27)
05. Algon (where an ordinary cup of drinking chocolate costs .£ (6:07)
06. Rhesus Perplexus (4:06)
07. Wal to Wal (3:09)
08. ...And So To F... (6:34)
09. April (2:40)

- John Goodsall / guitar, (all tracks except 7), backing vocals (1, 3)
- John Giblin / bass (1, 3, 5 ,6, 7, 8, 9)
- Percy Jones / bass (2, 4, 7)
- Robin Lumley / keyboards on (1, 3, 5 ,6, 8, 9)
- Peter Robinson / keyboards (2, 4)
- Phil Collins / drums, percussion (1, 3, 5 ,6, 7, 8, 9); vocals (1, 3)
- Morris Pert / percussion (2, 4)
- Michael Clarke / drums on (2, 4)

Released in 1979, "Product" was Brand X's fourth studio album in as many years. The nature of the line up would appear indicate a degree of turmoil in the ranks, with none of the band members playing on every track. Phil Collins, who had been missing from the previous album "Masques", returned to the drums stool for 6 of the 9 tracks. With him came keyboard player Robin Lumley, who plays on the same tracks as Collins.

Surprisingly, the music is also subject to some significant diversity, as demonstrated by the opening "Don't make waves". This song, which was actually released as a single, is a lightweight, pop based number on which Phil Collins sings. Given that Brand X was always mooted as an escape for Collins from the strictures of Genesis, it does seem odd that he should lead the charge back towards the chart cravings which were plaguing Genesis.

Things turn towards the more orthodox Brand X product with the fusion based "Dance of the illegal aliens". Guitarist John Goodsall is the only band member from the first track to also play on this number, the bass, drums and keyboards positions all being filled by alternative members. The line up for this track also contribute "Not good enough, see me" a meandering, rather unfocused affair.

"Soho" sees the "Don't make waves" line up sounding more than ever like "Ababcab" era Genesis, with Collins pure pop vocals dragging the band far from their roots. This line up, which excludes bassist Percy Jones who is the catalyst for the two traditional tracks on side one, dominate the second side of the album, playing on all but one of the tracks. On side two however, their contributions are more in line with what we would expect from a Brand X album. This tends to disprove the theory that the two line ups were pulling in opposite directions, the misunderstanding arising through the two pop orientated songs on the first side.

The four tracks on side two which feature the Collins/Goodsall/Giblin/Lumley line up are straightforward jazz rock pieces, similar to those which appeared on previous Brand X albums. They do not do a lot for me, although "..and so to F.." has a spirited repetitive chant, but those who enjoyed the band's previous output should be satisfied with what they hear. The only other track on side two is a dull two basses and drums affair called "Wal to wal", the title referring to the type of basses used.

"Product" is an album which tends to split the fans of Brand X, mainly due to the presence of the two pop orientated numbers which Phil Collins sings on the first side. Those aside, this is a pretty standard Brand X album.

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