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Brand X (UK/USA) - 1999 - "Timeline"(2 CD, Backyball)

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Prolusion. Two live recordings from the two different periods of Brand X's activity form the contents of this double CD album. The first CD, "Live in Chicago 1977", presents the compositions that are originally featured on the band's first three official albums: "Unorthodox Behaviour" (1976), "Moroccan Roll" (1977) and "Livestock" (1977). "Live in New York 1993" consists mainly of the works the reformed Brand X composed during the "X Communication" album sessions in 1992, more than ten years after the band's break up. Nevertheless, Timeline is continuous, and Brand X's creation is and will forever be unbroken.


Disc 1 - 1977 - "Live in Chicago" (62 min)

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TRACK LIST:



1.  Disco Suicide 7:08 (Lumley)

2.  Nightmare Patrol 8:22 (Goodsall, Dennard)

3.  Why Should I Lend You Mine 2:59 (Brand X)

4.  Access to Data 7:46 (Goodsall)

5.  Nuclear Burn 8:22 (Brand X)

6.  Euthanasia Waltz 6:09 (Goodsall)

7.  Malaga Virgin 9:51 (Jones)

8.  Deadly Nightshade 12:31 (Pert)



LINE-UP:



John Goodsall - guitar

Percy Jones - bass

Kenwood Dennard - drums

Robin Lumley - keyboards

Morris Pert - percussion



Synopsis. In my honest opinion, "Live in Chicago 1977" is the best live album by Brand X and might be the best introduction to the band's creation for those still unfamiliar with it. All eight of the compositions here are about that unique and immediately recognizable Jazz-Fusion with pronounced elements of Symphonic Art-Rock, which is a stylistic quintessence of both of the band's first studio albums: "Unorthodox Behaviour" and "Moroccan Roll". (The continuous search for new musical forms was always typical for Brand X, so stylistically, all of their albums, including aforementioned ones, are notably different among themselves.) Even Malaga Virgin, one of the jazziest and most often performed pieces of the band, sounds here much more diverse and symphonic than on any of the other Brand X albums and features many wonderful atmospherically symphonic and purely symphonic arrangements. Like that in the works of Art-Rock genre, the music here is full of clearly perceptible moods and is very imaginative. The majority of solos on the album are excellently thought out and don't associate with real jazzy improvisations at all. All compositions consist for the most part of intensive and, sometimes, high-speed arrangements with the alternation of highly virtuosi, tasteful, and passionate solos of guitar and those of synthesizer at the helm of them, cascades of mind-blowing stop-to-play movements, sudden changes of theme and tempo, etc, again, and over. "Live in Chicago 1977" is a highly progressive and fantastically interesting album. Like Pink Floyd in Art-Rock, Henry Cow in RIO, Black Sabbath in Prog-Metal, and Univers Zero in Fifth Element, Brand X had no match within the Jazz-Fusion genre in the second half of the 1970s.


Disc 2 - 1993 - "Live in New York" (55 min)

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TRACK LIST:



1.  Introduction 1:56 (Goodsall)

2.  A Duck Exploding 9:47 (Brand X)

3.  Guitar Concerto 2:41 (arr. by Goodsall)

4.  Thalidomide Squid 5:53 (Goodsall)

5.  Strangeness 6:14 (Jones)

6.  Cambodia 6:50 (Goodsall)

7.  Drum Solo 7:10 (Katz)

8.  Church of Hype 5:39 (Jones)

9.  Healing Dream 3:46 (Goodsall)

10. Macrocosm 5:57 (=)



LINE-UP:



John Goodsall - electric, MIDI, & acoustic guitars

Percy Jones - bass guitar

Frank Katz - drums & percussion



Engineered by M. Hathaway.

Remastered by Marc Wagnon at Buckyball.



Synopsis. "Live in New York 1993" contains three previously unreleased compositions the band composed not long before starting to work on the "X Communication" album. These are Introduction, Guitar Concerto, and Thalidomide Squid (1, 3, & 4). The latter of these pieces, as well as A Duck Exploding, Strangeness, and Church of Hype, is about that unique confluence of Jazz-Fusion and Art-Rock adjoining with Fifth Element, which is the predominant stylistics of >"X Communication". The style of Introduction and Guitar Concerto, both of which are quite unique and impressive compositions representing the constantly developing interplay between real and as if reflected synth-like solos of MIDI-guitar, can hardly be defined as Symphonic Art-Rock, and nevertheless, the textures that they consist of are definitely symphonic. The (aforementioned) new music 'formula' Brand X for the first time tested on "X Communication" works successfully throughout the album, and even the earliest works by the band: Cambodia and Macrocosm (both composed in 1976) sound here much in the same vein as their most recent works. The brilliant classic acoustic guitar-based piece Healing Dream is not unlike of its original, and Drum Solo is somewhat the rendition of Zero DB, which is the last track on "X Communication". While the latter album had signified the glorious return of the Legend, "Live in New York 1993" had fixed it. This is by all means a brilliant album, and my only complaint concerns the location of such a specific track as Drum Solo. Of course, it's an exclusively personal point of view, but I think the album would've been looking a bit more cohesive if that track would've been placed at the end of it.

Conclusion. Brand X was and is the most progressive of Jazz-Fusion and the related bands ever existed in the history of music. If you are generally into Symphonic Progressive and are only superficially acquainted with Brand X's music, please have a new (and thorough) listen to it, and you'll understand that it's never too late to discover an amazing musical world greatly fitting your tastes, which you passed by once.

VM: Agst 12, 2003


Related Links:

Buckyball Music


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