Outer Music 1997 / Gonzo 2013
Future fusion heroes get into gear on their earlier sketches.
There’s nothing definitive about BRAND X who get resurrected once in a while, even though the title of this compilation refers not to their potentially to-be finished business but rather to the band’s start, previously undocumented. Laid down in 1975-1976, it catches the quartet finding their feet soon after Phil Collins, yet to move from back to front in GENESIS, joined the party, and features working versions of the tracks destined to end up on the group’s first two albums as well as ones that would be discarded. Why, is everyone’s guess, as all the pieces are of equal quality, and what remained in the vaults could have been streamlined in the same way as what eventually made the cut.
Thus, refined fusion of “Kugelblitz” reveals a blizzard of blinding solos, twining – in places to a country picking – and then shooting at different angles for 11 blissful, even when John Goodsall’s sharp riffs smash into it, minutes, whereas Robin Lumley’s Fender Rhodes lulls the sweet grit of “Ancient Mysteries.” On the other hand, “Why Won’t You Lend Me Yours?” that appeared on “Moroccan Roll” as “Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You’ve Broken Yours Off Already)…” sounds raw, if already formed, here – with a reggae section to boot.
There’s a healthy pinch of humour and self-criticism to some of it, as the taut funk of “Dead Pretty,” strung high on Percy Jones’ bass has yet to relax and turn into “Born Ugly” before landing on “Unorthodox Behaviour” in the tighter grip of keyboard pads and guitar rage, and “Miserable Virgin,” a samba-minded precursor to “Malaga Virgen,” emerges as a high-energy rhythm fest displaying Collins’ immaculate technique with everything he can hit. The groove’s king also in “Tito’s Leg” which, given its tropical wah-wah work and curlicues, might be a homage to señor Puente.
Above all, though, “Missing Period” is a tribute to the unique talent combination BRAND X were: it’s much more than a historic document.