Brand X

Manifest Destiny

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The first Brand X release after an extended layoff, 1997's Manifest Destiny only proves that the layoff was not, in fact, extended enough. Only guitarist John Goodsall and keyboardist and bassist Percy Jones remain from the classic '70s lineup of the Unorthodox Behaviour/Moroccan Roll days, and the invention and wit of those early days is little in evidence here. Goodsall in particular seems to have acquired a taste for bloated showboating and irritating hammer-on solos that go nowhere at lightning-fast speed. (The one exception is the brief "Five Drops," which features some really good acoustic work by Goodsall.) There are a few interesting musical ideas here, but they're stretched too thin through tiresome repetition, and David Hentschel's overly antiseptic production squeezes dry whatever life the songs manage to generate. Manifest Destiny is a poor return for a band who at one time was the hottest and most musically intriguing jazz fusion group in Great Britain.

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