Notes: A compilation of mostly previously unreleased rarities: disc 1 feaures Brand X recordings, while disc 2 consists of various other projects that have involved John Goodsall or Percy Jones. The X-Files delivers some great fusion playing.
Well, they had to get around to that title eventually. A scattershot and somewhat misleading retrospective, this two-disc set is strictly for die-hard Brand X fans. Although the set is subtitled "A 20 Year Retrospective," this is in no way a career overview. Disc one consists of ten previously unreleased live recordings in reverse chronological order, from the 1997 Manifest Destiny tour to the group's initial mid-'70s lineup, when Phil Collins and Robin Lumley were the band's drummer and keyboardist. Unsurprisingly, this disc gets more interesting as it goes on, reaching its pinnacle with the rocking (but annoyingly muddy-sounding) "Don't Make Waves." Disc two technically is not Brand X at all, but a sampling of extracurricular projects by group leaders John Goodsall and Percy Jones, in tandem and separately. These tracks come mostly from the '90s, which is long after Goodsall and Jones lost their ability to create dynamic and challenging music. As a result, the disc is of mild curiosity at best and is profoundly irritating at worst.
Brand X was another one of those bands who were beloved of other musicians and the more discerning of critics but which despite everything, never had the commercial success that it deserved.
They were a jazz fusion band active 1975–1980. Brand X started in 1975 as a 'jam' band signed by Island Records' Richard Williams. Williams A&R man Danny Wilding wrote down the name 'Brand X' to keep track of their activity on the studio calendar and the name stuck.
Noted members included Phil Collins (drums), Percy Jones (bass), John Goodsall (guitar) and Robin Lumley (keyboards). Not long after jazz/rock fusion greats Brand X put out their 1980 album, Do They Hurt?, the band members went their separate ways until their comeback in 1992. Goodsall and Jones formed a trio version of Brand X with drummer Frank Katz in 1992. To make up for the lack of a keyboard player, Goodsall used a Gibson Max MIDI-guitar system to trigger synths, samples and keyboard sounds along with his guitars. This line-up went on to record Xcommunication (1992) and Manifest Destiny (1997), and tour Japan and Europe in 1997 with keyboard player Kris Sjobring and ex-Gong drummer Pierre Moerlen replacing Katz.
The X Files features music from both periods of the band’s career.
Disc one of this extraordinary album consists of ten previously unreleased live recordings in reverse chronological order, from the 1997 Manifest Destiny tour to the group's initial mid-'70s lineup, when Phil Collins and Robin Lumley were the band's drummer and keyboardist.
Disc two technically is not Brand X at all, but a sampling of extracurricular projects by group leaders John Goodsall and Percy Jones, in tandem and separately. These tracks come mostly from the '90s, and are well worth checking out.
Bruford had an early association with Brand X, rehearsing with the band for a few weeks before commitments to King Crimon curtailed his involvement, apart from some occasional live appearances on percussion. However, Bruford's appearance on this album comes from a later project: in 1977, Goodsall, Bruford and members of San Francisco band Automatic Man got together for what the liner notes describe in one place as a band called Vertical Invader and in another as work towards a solo album for Goodsall. The only surviving recordings from those sessions are these two tracks. They are good tracks, much in the style of Goodsall's other work; Bruford's contribution is unobtrusive on "Here I am Now", but somewhat more distinctive on "Measure the Sky". (Goodsall made a brief appearance on Bruford's Feels Good to Me.)
As an archival compilation, Jones and Goodsall are not even sure who plays on some tracks, being uncertain of the percussionist on (8) or of the drummer or keyboardist on (10). (HP, 2 Nov 02)
DISC 1: THE X-FILES
1. The X-Files Theme Live@ The Strand '93
2. True To The Clik Manifest Destiny '96
3. Nuclear Burn/ Cambodia Live@ The Cabaret '93
4. Healing Dream X-Communication '92 (remaster)
5. Thalidomide Squid Live@ The Bottom Line '94
6. Born Pretty In a Disco Live in Japan '97
7. Noddy Goes to Sweden Dudley University '76
8. Kugelblitz Missing Period '76
9. Don't Make Waves Live in America (unreleased)
10. John "No" Doe unknown & unreleased
DISC 2: eX-TRACKS
1. Dance of Life Goodsall/ Ciago Project '97
2. Saladin Fire Merchants '89 (remaster)
3. Inseminator Percy Jones Tunnels '93 (remaster)
4. World's In Modulation Fire Merchants 'Landlords Of Atlantis' '94
5. G. Storm Wilding-Bonus Pleasure Signals '78
6. Measure The Sky John Goodsall Project '77
7. Here I Am Now John Goodsall Project '77
8. The Other Side Of The World Zoo Drive '85
9. Animal Floor Project '88
10. The Ocean Malcolm Bruce Project '97
11. $10,000 Bookshelf Percy Jones Propeller Music '90
12. Finger Power Percy Jones/ F. Katz Single '97
13. From a Mountain Top Floor Project '88
Personnel on DISC 1:
Percy Jones: all tracks (except 4)
John Goodsall: all tracks
Frank Katz: 1, 2, 3, 5
Franz Pusch: 2
Pierre Moerlen: 6
Kris Sjobring: 6
Mike Clarke: 7
Robin Lumley: 7, 8, 9
Morris Pert: 7, 9
Phil Collins: 8, 9
Preston Heyman: 8
Personnel on DISC 2:
John Goodsall: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13
Percy Jones: 3, 10, 11, 12
Ronie Ciago: 1
Doug Lunn: 2, 4, 8
Chester Thompson: 2
Frank Katz: 3, 12
Marc Wagnon, Van Manakas: 3
Toss Panos: 4
Danny Wilding, Phil Collins, John Giblin: 5
Bill Bruford, Bayete, Donny Harvey: 7
Paul Delph, Rick Parnell: 8
Mick McClinden, Mike Barsimanto, Krash: 9, 13
Malcolm Bruce, Pierre Moerlen: 10
Mike Clarke, Shankar, Jeff Llewelyn: 11