BRAND X — Unorthodox Behaviour

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BRAND X - Unorthodox Behaviour cover
3.81 | 33 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Fusion


A1 Nuclear Burn 6:25
A2 Euthanasia Waltz 5:37
A3 Born Ugly 8:10
B1 Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria 4:25
B2 Unorthodox Behaviour 8:13
B3 Running On Three 4:36
B4 Touch Wood 3:03

Total Time: 41:05


- John Goodsall – electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar
- Percy Jones – Fender Fretless bass, marimba , acoustic bass
- Robin Lumley – electric pianos, piano, Moog synthesizer
- Phil Collins – drums, tambourine, vibraphone , gong
- Jack Lancaster – soprano saxophone

About this release

Charisma ‎– 6369 977 (UK)

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

While Brand X’s debut is highly derivative of the band's fusion heroes, that’s not necessarily an insurmountable problem. In fact, ‘Unorthodox Behaviour’ has some blisteringly good moments, even if from start to finish the compositions aren’t all as powerful as the opener or as effective as ‘Euthanasia Waltz.’ If nothing else, this album will remind you that Collins is a great drummer.

The fact that the record instantly brings the Mahavishnu Orchestra to mind puts the listener into familiar territory. It’s a fair comparison, as would be a mention of Billy Cobham or Weather Report’s work – both their early atmospheric output and slicker pieces. But that same aspect, that familiarity, also adds to the absence of discovery for the listener. There aren’t enough surprises here and many songs lack melodic muscle. ‘Born Ugly’ for instance, despite a nice Santana/McLaughlin-esque solo in from Goodsall, is indicative of such shortfalls. There are some quirks to the arrangement, yes, but no grit to the funk. ‘Smacks of Euphoric Hyst’ doesn’t really go anywhere and the title track doesn’t have a pay-off, it seems to do so little with its running time in a way that say, Miles Davis’ ‘In a Silent Way’ is never guilty of.

On the other hand, ‘Running on Three’ is another fantastic charge of energy, with Collins driving the band into high gear before they rein it in again for ‘Touch Wood’ where, in part thanks to the acoustic guitar, the track feels like one of the pieces least indebted to the past. It’s actually a toss-up for my favourite on the album (the other being ‘Nuclear Burn.’) This inclusion of acoustic guitar is one of the most distinctive aspects of ‘Unorthodox Behaviour’ and something I think is a really welcome aspect of their sound – especially in ‘Euthanasia Waltz.’

After finishing the album however, I’m often left feeling that I just heard something good, something that’s great at times, but not an album that floors me. Still, three stars overall, with a couple of five star moments throughout.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
BRAND X actually had strange beginnings. The musical entity was formed as a jam band by record execs at Island and A&R and used the name “BRAND X” to generically apply to their music calendar. They initiated the first lineup which consisted of only John Goodsall (Atomic Rooser, The Fire Merchants) appearing on this debut release UNORTHODOX BEHAVIOR. After a bunch of members being replaced only to be replaced again, the band finally ended up with the lineup of Goodsall, keyboardist Robin Lumley (Rod Argent, Anthony Phillips, David Bowie), bassist and marimbaist Percy Jones (Soft Machine, David Sylvian, Eno, Steve Hackett, Suzanne Vega etc) and of course Phil Collins who at this point was entertaining his long desire to play in a jazz-fusion band at the time when Gabriel had left Genesis. We also get occasional soprano sax help form Jack Lancaster of Blodwyn Pig fame.

This album displays some of Collins’ most distinguished and ferocious chops that he could dish out. In fact i never understood the hype behind his drumming skills until i finally heard this album. He also adds healthy doses of vibraphones to the mix as well bringing the jazz years of Lionel Hampton to mind. This is a splendid example of 70s jazz-fusion taking a little of the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s frenetic energy and mixing it with a Return To Forever type atmosphere and occasional Herbie Hancock funkiness.

All the musicians here are really at their best and the sum of their parts results in an extremely pleasant surprise. While not the most original jazz-fusion album of the 70s, it is nonetheless very consistent from beginning to end with pleasant melodies interspersed with frenetic drum rolls, layers of silence, funky bassm atmospheric synthesizers and rhythmic developments accompanied by proggy jazzed up time signature outbursts and even some sizzling solo trade off between the Moog synthesizers and guitars.

Due to the involvement of Phil Collins, this album actually made it on to the Billboard top 200 albums albeit peaking only at No. 191. Another aspect of this album i really dig is the production. There is great attention paid to details in how notes slide, in the volume control of the instruments in relation to each other and the overall atmospheric development of the album. Great musicianship and beautifully constructed instrumental workouts make this a pleasant listen that i don’t seem to tire of. Slightly more accessible than the influences on board but it also delivers on the jazz-fusion goods that even the most hardened fans can get into.
Prior to entering the studio for Genesis' first post-Peter Gabriel album, Phil Collins loosened up by taking the drummer's stool for this debut Brand X album. The group play a light and airy style of fusion reminiscent of a little bit of Return to Forever, the occasional hint of Mahavishnu Orchestra, and a generous helping of Billy Cobham's spectrum. All pleasant enough, though I don't think the album really stands out as a classic of the genre; it's good, but it doesn't blow me away. A few tracks were reworked for some pieces on Brian Eno's Another Green World and Before and After Science albums (which featured Brand X members in the backing groups), but comparing them makes it plain how much Eno's production and ambient manipulations added to those pieces.
Sean Trane
While Genesis was in a delicate phase, looking for a new frontman and its guitarist was releasing his first solo album (Acolyte), Phil was patiently waiting in the wings and became involved in this project, composed of absolute then-unknown, if it wasn't for maybe Goodsall, whom had a stint with Atomic Rooster. Phil Collins' participation in Brand X will actually play a role in Genesis, since his dabblings into JR/F will guide his choice into hiring both Chester Thompson (Zappa, Weather report) and a tad latter Daryl Struemer (Jean Luc Ponty's group). Obviously when listening to Phil drum works on BX and comparing it with Genesis material, it's quite clear that Phil listened and impregnated himself of Billy Cobham's Spectrum album.

Out of the mists of a post-modern world in Nuclear Burn, rises a guitar that has obviously been influenced by Carlos McLaughlin and the rest of the formation slowly rises from the ashes to become an instant success. Outstanding stuff. The first few seconds of Euthanasia Waltz are again reminiscent of Caravanserai, but Goodsall's acoustic strumming saves it and allow Lumley's Rhodes and Jones' ultra bass to shine. The following track's name the ultra-funky Born Ugly cannot possibly be talking about itself because it is one of the best electric piano-led funk-fusion pieces, courtesy of Lumley's Rhodes, but Goodsall's guitar does more than its share. It could've been an RTF track on their No Mystery album, Lumley's piano style certainly aiming at Corea's, while Jones's usual Jaco-esque game is replaced by a Stanley Clarke slapping play. Out of the deep vinyl groove, comes Euphoric Hysteria, which hesitates between Mahavishnu and Santana, before deciding neither with Lumley's disputable synth sound. The title track is slowly emerging a clock-like rhythm and a rounded bass and the two spend their time twisting about your eardrums and diddle with your sanity, slowly deconstructing its propos. Not exactly a winner, but it shows another facet of the group for albums to come. Running Of Three returns to the influence of Carlos McL and if it wasn't needlessly "flamboyant", you could imagine yourself on my jazz-rock reference Caravanserai. The short and soft Touch Wood is a calm ending to a fiery album: a fitting outro.

A classic fusion album of the times but the real interest is that, as opposed to contemporary groups such as Return To Forever, Spiro Gyra, Weather Report or even JL Ponty, this had a definitely English twist to it and it was a welcome change (just like the post-Allen Gong jazz-rock albums are) but this is not really Canterbury-style either although some people have done that amalgam. IMHO, however, the better times for this sort of music had already passed along with the 1st generation groups such as Mahavishnu, Miles Davis, Nucleus, Soft Machine, Mwandishi, etc.... But this one is definitely a gem.

This album is in my opinion the finest ever representation of British Jazz Fusion, and it is so very un-British! Phil Collins here comes out of his shell and offers some absolutely stunning performances and from the first seconds of Nuclear Burn you know you are in for 40 minutes of other-worldly musicianship and incredible Jazz Fusion. This is the first time a British Jazz Fusion act made something as technically proficient as the Spanish and American giants of the genre. Most of the music is clearly influenced by Mahivishnu Orchestra and you could easily accuse this record of being unoriginal but at a time when Jazz Fusion was dead in the U.K this album brings it back to life in stunning fashion. Nuclear Burn is for me the highlight of the record with some absolutely amazing drumming interspersed with technical and blisteringly fast Guitars and Keyboards. The record also features slower songs similar to the work of Return To Forever. Euthanasia Waltz and Born Ugly both show this influence very well. One of the more unusual pieces is Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria which features more of a funk vibe than other tracks on the album and showcases some fantastic keyboard and guitar playing.

This album easily grabs 5 stars for me being not only the album that proved wrong my perceptions that a fast exciting British Jazz Fusion record was completely elusive but also showcases the finest playing Phil Collins accomplished and combines the finest moments of Mahivishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever into a complete Jazz Fusion experience.

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