Brand X — Manifest Destiny
(Purple Pyramid CLP 9940-2, 1997, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-10-01
Once upon a time there were a bunch of session musicians with too much time on their hands, having some fun between gigs, among them drummer Phil Collins during a period when Genesis' future was not so certain. Supposedly a purely non-serious improvisational unit, Brand X was born. Next thing you know they're putting out an album and going out on tour. 20 years and about half as many albums later, after who-can-keep-track of how many lineup changes, breakups, and reformations, the core of the band — guitarist John Goodsall and bassist Percy Jones — is still working together. The lineup this time out includes drummer Frank Katz, from the early-90s X-incarnation, keyboardist Franz Pusch, and Marc Wagnon (from Tunnels and Doctor Nerve) on MIDI vibes, the latter two interestingly enough never appearing on the same track together, leading one to believe that this may represent material from two different sessions separated by some lineup changes. Jones' playful fretless antics never sounded better, and Goodsall's smoking guitar leads can be heard throughout. Unfortunately, Katz' heavy handed snare pounding seems inescapable at times too, though on tracks like "Virus" he loosens up and delivers a superb performance. In all, a better album than X-Communication from '92, the return of keyboards and addition of midi-vibes gives the sound a liveliness and warmth it was missing, although it still doesn't top 70s classics like Livestock.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more