A delightful overabundance of jazz fusion alongside dashes of progressive rock is the best way to describe the exquisite music of Brand X, whose drums were struck by Phil Collins for their first three albums, prior to his replacement by Chuck Burgi and then Mike Clarke toward the end of the '70s. Actually, only guitarist John Goodsall remained with the band throughout its short stint, which makes A History 1976-1980 all the more attractive as a compilation. This quick turnover within the band's lineup gave each album a definitive style and structure, represented firmly within this collection's ten tracks. Brand X's first two albums, their 1976 debut Unorthodox Behaviour and the following year's Moroccan Roll, were the group's most solid works, and tracks like "Disco Suicide" and "Born Ugly" prove it. The flurry of keyboards and aberrant guitar provided an enormous easel on which the band painted its unrestricted free-form rock, including volatile bursts of harmony and instrumentation. "The Poke" from 1978's Masques is a fine example of this, while "Pool Room Blues" has the band gearing down just a wee bit. This compilation could have been bettered by at least six or seven more tracks, but A History does characterize the unregulated configuration of this talented band. Each Brand X album should be heard on its own as well, though, as each disc embraces its own unique personality.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne