Brand X - The X-Files - A 20 Year Retrospective

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4383.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 127:00:00

Let's be honest here. Although Brand X was and has always been the brainchild of John Goodsall and Percy Jones, they mainly came to the attention of many music lovers because of the inclusion of Phil Collins on drums. Collins, who then looked like a bearded gnome, is one of the many drummers on this double set. This lavish retrospective reads like a "who's who" of drums and bass. Phil Collins, Bill Bruford, Chester Thompson, Pierre Moerlen, Frank Katz, Mike Clarke and Mike Barsimanto all come to spice up the rich Brand X rhythms. Although the band's early studio albums are probably a much better buy due to the more detailed recordings, The X-Files offer a nice insight into the diversity of this (mainly) instrumental concept. Alternating live cuts with unreleased studio outtakes and remastered material, the set remains a joy both for the occasional music buff as well as the Brand X diehard.

Please note that there's a difference between this release on Musea and the set that was originally released on the Pangea label. Labelled as The X-Files, disc one sports some changes in that the opening track "The X-Files Theme" is credited on this release to be recorded at the Bottom Line in '94, whilst the original release mentions Live at The Strand in '93. A similar difference with "Nuclear Burn/Cambodia" exists, which again is credited to be from the Bottom Line gig in '94 whilst the original release says it was Live at the Cabaret in '93. Also tracks two and three have swopped places. The remastered "Healing Dream" is a stunning piece of acoustic guitar work by John Goodsall, which at times sounds similar to Al Di Meola. Recorded in Japan in '97, "Born Pretty In A Disco" contains some tiny Japanese references in the intro. Interesting here is the fact that none other than Gong drummer Pierre Moerlen stepped in to replace Frank Katz at the very last minute. Putting his kick drum on the upbeat, drummer Mike Clarke apparently is lightyears ahead of his time during "Noddy Goes To Sweden," delivering a technique that is now commonly used in European techno music. Fans of fretless bass will have their ultimate wet dream with this one!

Lost for well over twenty years until John Goodsall's daughter returned him an old tape, "Kugelblitz" is the perfect example of the fast and furious jazzrock fusion that would be the unmistakable Brand X trademark during their early days. Robin Lumley's soft dashes of keyboards contain some of the National Health magic as well. Backed by the improvisational talents of Phil Collins. this is 10:57 of pure studio magic. More excitement for the Phil Collins fan, as their idol also sings this time during a live rendition of the commercially inclined "Don't Make Waves." Sadly the quality is not so good, as it was probably recorded in a rather small club using a cheap tape recorder.

Disc two goes under the name of eX-tracks. On this disc, two songs have been omitted from the early Japanese release, those being "Worlds In Modulation" by the Fire Merchants and "The Other Side Of The World" by Zoo Drive. Instead, these tracks have been replaced by "Love Notes" by Floor Project and "Last Of The Mohicans," as recorded during Percy Jones' Japanese tour in '99. For a while Goodsall teamed up with that other Genesis drummer Chester Thompson and bass player Doug Lunn. They called themselves the Fire Merchants and delivered what they called "heavy metal-progressive-fusion," or as someone described their music as Birds Of Fire-era Mahavishnu Orchestra meets Dream Theater. "Saladin" surely is the perfect example of how this description fits the band like a glove! In the old days I sometimes got tempted into buying picture discs regardless of the music that was on it. I remember one day finding a very cheap picture disc called Pleasure Signals by a certain Wilding and Bonus. The outer sleeve didn't contain much information but later on I learned that not only was Phil Collins on this album but also John Goodsall and John Giblin. In a way you could say Wilding and Bonus planted the seed that in the end became Brand X. Here you'll find the joyful uptempo "G Storm" with some entertaining flute courtsey of Danny Wilding. The two following tracks were recorded with none other than Bill Bruford on drums. The second one with vocals by Automatic Man's Bayette contains a funky feel and if more percussion had been added, you can hear Santana throughout. Next up are two tracks from Goodsall's 1988 project The Floor, which remain unreleased until now. Imagine uptempo, punky stuff in a Punishment of Luxury vein during "Animal," whilst the slower "Love Notes" could come out of the Siouxie and the Banshees songbook.

"The Ocean" is a loose jam session recorded in the studio of Malcolm Bruce, son of the legendary Cream bass player Jack Bruce. Nothing interesting mind you. One man and his bass comes alive during the live rendition of "Last Of The Mohicans" as Percy Jones' hip hop experiment is called. More dance inclined material comes in the form of "Finger Power," which sounds more like a collection of improvised sound collages rather than a real track. Reggae seems to be the inspiration for the closing track "From A Mountain Top," which not only sees John Goodsall singing for the very first time, but also includes some immortal lines by the late Martin Luther King, Jr. Another composition from the aborted Floor album, it clearly indicates that the second disc in this package sounds completely different than the actual Brand X material. Therefore it will sound normal that whenever you take this album out of your cupboard you'll end up playing disc one and mainly disc one. Stick to Brand X's first four studio albums and you'll be much better off!

Disc One: The X-Files Theme (1:56) / Nuclear Burn ? Cambodia (6:46) / True To The Click (5:30) / Healing Dream (3:49) / Thalidomide Squid (5:13) / Born Pretty In A Disco (8:06) / Noddy Goes To Sweden (7:13) / Kugelblitz (10:57) / Don't Make Waves (5:31) / John 'No' Doe (2:49)

Disc Two: Dance Of Life (5:48) / Saladin (5:26) / Inseminator (6:07) / G Storm (3:11) / Measure The Sky (9:00) / Here I Am Now (4:25) / Animal (4:08) / Love Notes (4:19) / The Ocean (4:21) / Last Of The Mohicans (5:17) / $10,000 Bookshelf (5:17) / Finger Power (6:48) / From A Mountain Top (4:42)

Percy Jones - bass
John Goodsall - guitar, midi-guitar, acoustic guitar
Frank Katz - drums
Franz Pusch - synthesizer
Pierre Moerlen - drums
Kris Sjobring - keyboards
Mike Clarke - drums
Robin Lumley - keyboards
Morris Pert - percussion
Phil Collins - drums
Ronnie Ciago - tabla, udu drum, African bell, gong, shaker, keyboards
Chester Thompson - drums
Doug Lunn - bass
Marc Wagnon - midi-vibes
Van Manakas - guitar
Danny Wilding - flute
John Giblin - bass
Bill Bruford - drums
Bayete - vocals, keyboards
Donny Harvey - bass
Mick Mc Clinden - bass
Mike Barsimanto - drums
Krash - vocals
Malcolm Bruce - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Shankar - violin
Jeff Llewelyn ? guitar

Unorthodox Behavior (1976)
Livestock (1977)
Moroccan Roll (1977)
Masques (1978)
Product (1979)
Do They Hurt? (1980)
Is There Anything About (1982)
X-Trax (1987)
Xcommunication (1992)
Pillow Sack (1995)
Manifest Destiny (1997)
Live At The Roxy LA (1997)
The Plot Thins: A History Of Brand X, 1976-1980 (1997)
Missing Period (1998)
X-Files (1999/2001)
Timeline (2000)
Trilogy (2003)
Macrocosm: Introducing...Brand X (2003) Rochester 1977 (2016) Locked & Loaded/LIVE (2018)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin UK

Added: January 27th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 2230
Language: english


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