jazz fusion group Brand X. It is the last album to feature longstanding members Robin Lumley and Phil Collins. It was assembled from outtakes from the "Product" sessions. These sessions produced around twenty tracks which became Product, Do They Hurt and Is There Anything about."Modern, Noisy, and Effective" is the backing track to "Soho" with a new keyboard line overdubbed over the top of it.A Longer April is just an extended version of April from Product with a bit of synth noise added in the middle."TMIUATG" is taken from an old cassette tape running in the studio when the band were improvising.
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. 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, which only featured
Goodsall and Jones).
However, they still owed their record label one more album. The
solution? Release a rarities album! The problem, though, was that Brand X
hardly had any unreleased material in the vaults at all; about three or
four tracks at the most. But with a little doctoring & remixing of
tapes, keyboardist Robin Lumley extended that number to six tracks
(still scant, but better than four), and released Brand X's appropriately-titled collection, Is There Anything About?, in 1982.
It is the last album to feature Phil Collins on drums and includes some absolutely gorgeous slices of Brand X
at their very best. This is a peculiar album; at the time many critics
panned it, often because it didn't sound anything like the anodyne pop
music that Phil Collins was making elsewhere in his career. However, in
my opinion and that of thousands of fans worldwide, it acts as a
satisfying coda to a body of work that has very few paralells in the
world of Jazz fusion.
The album has been panned ever since the day it was
released (and judging by the previous Amazon reviews, it's STILL being
panned), but honestly, people, this album is nowhere near as bad as
you've been led to believe. Is it a masterpiece? No. But is it bad?
Absolutely not. "Is There Anything About?" DOES contain some very cool
Brand X nuggets. Even the "filler" tracks, in my opinion, are enjoyable.
Let's check out the material, shall we?:"Ipanemia": written by
guitarist John Goodsall, this piece is an excellent jazz/rock popper.
Very cool and breezy."A Longer April": this track is exactly what it
says it is---a longer version of "April," from 1979's "Product." Either
this is how Brand X originally recorded the tune before having to edit
it down for the "Product" album, or Robin Lumley extended the track by
doing some re-mixing on it. Either way it's a very dreamy, pleasant
piece, and I like it. I also like the spacey little bridge section
that's been added to it. "TMIU-ATGA": as the liner notes say, the title
stands for "They're Making It Up As They Go Along." Lumley, fellow
keyboardist Peter Robinson and bassist John Giblin improvised this short
piece in one take, and Lumley stuck it onto the album. Filler? Perhaps.
Instrumental noodling? Perhaps. But it's interesting."Swan Song": a
fun, poppy, keyboard-heavy instrumental, with a big "Ohh-ohh" chorus at
the finale. Some fans reacted to this track with, "Oh my God, they've
gone pop!" Chill out, you guys. I think there's always been an
oh-so-subtle pop influence to a *little bit* of Brand X's music (just a
little bit, mind you), so I don't mind if the band go whole hog and do a
rare, full-on pop-music piece. And "Swan Song" IS a very good pop-music
piece."Is There Anything About?": Now here is a Brand X instrumental no
one should have any complaints about. I can't tell when the band
actually recorded it, but it is a smokin' hot, jammin' piece, just as
great & funky as anything Brand X have recorded in the past.
Brilliant."Modern, Noisy, And Effective": Brand X go pop again (gasp!)
with a re-mixed, pop-flavored instrumental rendering of the song "Soho,"
originally from "Product." Extra keyboards and handclaps are tossed
into the mix. Again, I don't have a problem with it. It's a fun piece
with a good groove.And, to top off the album, the band's performances
are juuuust fine, thank you very much, with Lumley, Giblin, Goodsall and
ace drummer Phil Collins all getting in some tasty licks (as well as
bassist Percy Jones on the outstanding title track). So, if Brand X's
"Is There Anything About?" must be considered a throwaway album, it is a
great throwaway album. I'm happy to have it sitting alongside classic
Brand X albums like "Unorthodox Behaviour," "Moroccan Roll," and their
excellent comeback release from 1992, "X-Communication." I give "Is
There Anything About?" 3 1/2 stars, thus, 4 stars on the average curve. I
know it's a pretty darn difficult CD to get a hold of these days, but
do seek it out. If you are a Brand X fan, PLEASE have an open mind with
"Is There Anything About?", and I hope you like it. I do!
This album is outtakes from the Product (1979) sessions.
TMIU-ATGA means "they're making it up as they go along".
"A Longer April" is a re-engineered version of "April" from the Product (1979) sessions.
"Modern, Noisy, and Effective" is a recycling of the backing track of "Soho" from the "Product" album; that track had been engineered by Collins, who was described as "modern, noisy, and effective." This phrase, in fact, first appears in the film "Three Dates with Genesis" (1978); the narrator describes the scene in which the stage has been torn down and all the equipment loaded into trucks thus: "Like the rock band they service, the trucks are noisy, modern, and effective; at 2:30 on a Friday morning, they leave Mannheim to drive halfway across Europe to the Dutch border."
1. Ipanaemia (4:30)
2. A Longer April (7:00)
3. Tmiu-Atga (5:07)
4. Swan Song (5:30)
5. Is There Anything About? (7:52)
6. Modern, Noisy, and Effective (3:56)
Total Time: 33:55
Line-up / Musicians
- Phil Collins / drums and concussion (1-3)
- Percy Jones / bass (5)
- John Giblin / bass, Whitbread, vocal (1-4,6)
- Robin Lumley / keyboards and vocal
- Peter Robinson / keyboards (6)
- John Goodsall / guitar (1-5)
- Raf Ravenscroft / saxophone (2)
- Stephen Short / syndrums and vocal (4)