Brand X is your classic English jazz-fusion band based loosely around a electronic jazz style springboard which allows room for improvisation. The band styles, influences and directions transcends musical boundaries. The group's name came to be the band, which seemed to be just a pastime, still has no name: their sound engineer, while storing their tapes, labeled them -Brand X- and it stuck. The group was born partly due to Phil Collins being frustrated by the linear structure of Genesis. His idea for Brand X went back to the `Selling England By the Pound,' days (1973), Collins wanted to work in a more jazz-oriented style, without leaving the motherband- Genesis. In 1975, Collins met bassist Percy Jones (while working on Brian Eno's album `Another Green World,'), guitarist John Goodsall and Robin Lumley (keyboards).
As Peter Gabriel left Genesis and the band was searching for a replacement, Collins had the time to work with the rest of Brand X on their debut album- `Unorthodox Behavior,' in September and October at Trident Studios and they released it in July, 1976. The jazz-fusion album failed to chart, but Brand X wasn't striving for commercial acceptance. Compared to `Unorthodox,' the new album's rhythms were more consistent, but the sound was definitely more complex and refined.
Between December 1976 and January 1977, Brand X recorded (my favorite album), - `Moroccan Roll,' with the help of new member, percussionist Morris Pert (who later worked with Peter Gabriel from 1980 and 1982). The album charted in England at # 37 (although no singles were released). When Collins could not tour with the group because of obligations to Genesis (as he was now the leader singer of the then- progressive rock band), drummer Kenwood Dennard filled in live.
`Livestock,' released in November contained live material from their first two album tours.
After touring Mike Clarke moved into position as Brand X drummer (Collins was busy touring with Genesis) and in 1978, the band released- `Masques,' (though the album does not mention Clarke). With Lumley producing the album, Peter Robinson was added to provide added keyboards, it failed to chart.
Though John Giblin was added to provide additional bass tracks on 1979's `Product,' album, the big change was Collins' use of `rock-style' lead vocals. Some of the album was recorded at Collins' house (though most of the album was recorded at Startling Studio at Ascot). In September, the band released two singles, the most familiar being: "Soho" / "Dance of the Illegal Aliens." The singles failed to chart, as did the album.
Genesis was now one of the biggest bands in England (and soon the world), and as `Duke,' soared to # 1 on the charts, Collins began spending less and less time with Brand X and more time with his livelihood- Genesis (and thoughts of his own solo career). Phil was only featured on two tracks of the next album- `Do They Hurt?' (with Clarke drumming on most the album), which was released in May 1980.
`Is There Anything About?' was Collins' final album with the band (he played on 5 tracks). Released in September 1982, it charted at # 93 in the UK. Guest musicians on the album included: Raphael Ravenscroft on saxophone, and Steven Short on Syndrums and vocals.
After a long hiatus, John Goodsall and Percy Jones came together in 1992, along with drummer Frank Katz and Brand X released ` Xcommunication,' which bore a heavier sound. Jones formed an excellent fusion group called Tunnels. Godsall guests on a few of the albums. The band is touring in 2003, capping it with a gig at the 2003 Nearfest festival on June 29th. During four more years of additional silence (with the exception of a `History of Brand X,' release), Brand X released 1996's `Manifest Destiny,' first at their live shows, then later as an official release. The album was available in two different versions, one of which includes two hidden bonus tracks: a live track and a cool drums solo by Frank Katz. 1996 gave another album attempting to capitalize on Collins' popularity- `Brand X featuring Phil Collins,' (the third collection published by Brand X), and retrospective live album- `Live at Roxy L.A.' The following year, they released- `Missing Period,' mostly studio versions of the tracks (previously unreleased, at that time) included in `Livestock.'
In October 1999, Brand X released a new double CD collection, `The X Files: A 20 Year Retrospective,' which included previously unreleased material.
Goodsall and Jones reformed Brand X with drummer Frank Katz in 1992. To make up for the lack of a keyboard player, Goodsall used a Gibson Max MIDI-guitar system to trigger synths, samples and keyboard sounds along with his guitars. This line-up went on to record X-Communication (1992). In 1996, following the inclusions of Frank Pusch (bass, keyboards, percussion), Marc Wagnon (bass, synthesisers, percussion) and Danny Wilding (flute), the band recorded Manifest Destiny (1997). The following year, following Katz's departure and his subsequent replacement with drummer Pierre Moerlen (formerly of Gong) and keyboardist Kris Sjobring, the band toured Japan and Europe. Brand X dissolved again in 1999.
In recent years, Goodsall has recorded with Franz Pusch and performed regular solo concerts with guest musicians. Jones, Katz and Wagnon formed Tunnels with guitarist Van Manakas during the 1990s. Goodsall played guitar on three tracks on Tunnels album Progressivity (2002).
In 2016, Brand X announced that they would reform with John Goodsall on guitar, Percy Jones on fretless bass guitar, Kenwood Dennard on drums, Chris Clark on keyboards and Scott Weinberger on percussion for a new tour.
Brand X Discography
Unorthodox Behavior 1976
Moroccan Roll 1977
Do They Hurt? 1980
Is There Anything About? 1986
Live In Lybia Official bootleg 1986
The Plot Thins 1992
Manifest Destiny 1997
Missing Period 1998
The X Files: A 20 Year Retrospective 1999
Timeline - live concerts 16 November 1977 Chicago & 21 June 1993 NYC 2000
Trilogy - Xcommunication + Manifest Destiny + live recording 27 September 1979 NYC 2003
Nuclear Burn - 4-CD boxset containing Unorthodox Behaviour, Moroccan Roll, Livestock, Masques, Product, and Do They Hurt? in their entirety and four bonus tracks taken from unreleased BBC sessions 2014