Brand X's most eclectic album to date, Product is perhaps most notable for its attempts at a pop crossover in the Phil Collins-sung "Don't Make Waves" and "Soho." The range of styles presented here -- hard and soft fusion, pop, progressive rock -- results from the now-interchangeable nature of the Brand X lineup, which, in addition to the returning Collins and Robin Lumley, is expanded to include bassist John Giblin and drummer Mike Clarke (Chuck Burgi having left after Masques). While the pop songs have a tart, new wave sound to them that is oddly ingratiating, they're likely to leave longtime fans scratching their heads. (Genesis fans may hear in "Soho" the musical inspiration for "Illegal Alien," and in Percy Jones' "Dance of the Illegal Aliens" its titular inspiration.) Despite the presence of the original quartet -- Collins, Goodsall, Lumley, Jones -- the four don't appear together on Product, although Goodsall is present for all but one song (the lone pairing of fretless bassists Percy Jones and John Giblin on "Wal to Wal"). Many of this album's tracks have found a place in the band's career retrospectives, including the airy fusion of "Dance of the Illegal Aliens" and the engaging "Algon." While Mike Clarke's impact on the music often goes unnoticed, John Giblin adds a new dimension to the band's sound with two soft, evocative songs: "Rhesus Perplexus" (in which Goodsall's acoustic guitar crosses into Pat Metheny territory) and "April." The remaining tracks, "Not Good Enough -- See Me!" and "...And So to F...," are pleasant instrumentals with a more prominent role for the percussion; Collins thought enough of the latter to include a live version of it on a couple of 12" singles from his subsequent solo career. By nearly doubling the band's size, Product is able to indulge in an interesting game of musical chairs that occasionally overshadows the music itself. The band clearly has talent to spare, but can't seem to agree where to strike.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Connolly