Passport 1982 / Gonzo 2013
Paying their dues after shuffling their shoes, British jazz-rockers scrap the barrel and run away.
When this album saw the light of day, BRAND X were no more; the band fizzled out two years earlier having left some questions open. Literally so, as both 1980’s “Do They Hurt?” and it’s follow-up “Is There Anything About?” emerged from the same sessions as 1979’s “Product” whose title screamed out spelled out the players’ attitude towards their label desire to commercialize the music. Here, it’s very much accessible, though, especially on the sleek “Modern, Noisy And Effective” that, with Robin Lumley’s keyboards doing a merry dance, sounds like a nice characteristic of it all, and on “A Longer April” which is a full cut of the previously released “April” where Raphael Ravenscroft’s sax soars over elastic four-string safety net.
But if “Ipanaemia” stitches the deceptively lackadaisical approach to the Jobim-patented elegance, as outlined by John Giblin’s bass and Phil Collins percussion under John Goodsall’s guitar swing that glides from glacial lines to fervent picking and back again, “Swan Song” swims past like a slice of punchy funk with wordless vocals, spliced to a synthesizers, spicing it up. Unlike these, the title track is a fusion of high order which finds Percy Jones-rippled bottom end grounding J. Peter Robinson’s organ and submerged splashes from the electric axe in a sonic blizzard, while “Tmiu-Atga” – meaning “They’re Making It Up As They Go Along” – undermines its jam origin with a cinematic tune, slightly abstract yet arresting. So much about BRAND X, then, who were back, in a different form, ten years later, but that’s also a different story.