Brand X


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Christmas came early for fans of this fabled progressive jazz-rock band. Issued in June 2003, this three-CD (hence the Trilogy title) set includes re-releases of Manifest Destiny and Xcommunication, both of which were out of print until this time frame. These sessions depict guitarist John Goodsall, bassist Percy Jones, vibist Marc Wagnon (Manifest Destiny only), and drummer Frank Katz at the top of their game. Here, the listener will receive strong doses of the musicians' ferocious chops, amid pieces tinged with whispery melodies and difficult-to-navigate time signatures. But the real surprise emanates from disc three, which is a previously unreleased live date recorded in New York City on September 27, 1979. This set features longtime members Goodsall and Jones performing with drummer/vocalist Phil Collins, who of course proceeded to enjoy fame and fortune as a pop crooner, with and without Genesis. One of the more noticeable treats pertains to the dual electric keyboard attack of Robin Lumley and Peter Robinson, consisting of layered passages, fluent soloing, and airy, Moog synth-based riffs. The musicians' insightful melding of jazz-rock motifs with hardcore technical veracity hits the mark in a rather prolific way. Moreover, Collins and Lumley bestow a bit of humorous commentary to the undeniably revved-up audience. And while Collins is noted for his radio-friendly pop singing, fans of early Genesis and Brand X will again be reminded of what a superb drummer he was. Recommended listening.

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