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Oh baby, this is why I love band reunions or should I say band revivals. For this is one on-fire, cranked-up, slammin’ and funkified fusion fest. John Goodsall, Percy Jones, and the gang whirl you around by your heels until your brain pops. Being a dormant entity for most of the ‘80s, Brand X is obviously very much back with this second post-reunited offering. With drummer Frank Katz and vibesman Mark Wagnon from Jones’ Tunnels band Brand X is manifesting a destiny of attack and decimate. Jones’ signature jazzy-phat, swelling, be-boppin’, hip-hopped, and burpin’ funk-rock bass is framed with that serrated-edged and pyrotechnic splendor in Goodsall’s mean fusion guitar.
Those of us fully aware of the fascinating diversity and skillful jazz rock of early Brand X will also remember how complexly whacked and offbeat they could stretch they defied old genre-specific boundaries and set new ones. The same flagrant disregard is thankfully in full swing here. My mind goes back to Do They Hurt? crossed with Livestock. For that in-your-face bombastic and killer guitar-driven fusion check out “True to the Clik”, “Virus”, “Manifest Destiny”, and “Operation Hearts and Minds”. For that world and ethnic syncopated funk fusion that Brand X has always handled with ease do “XXL”, “The Worst Man”, and “Drum Ddu”. Last track, “Mr. Bubble Goes to Hollywood” is a drum solo then drums-n-bass duet. Probably one of the most memorable cuts is Jones’ “Stellerator”, named after one H. F.Mudd’s robo-wife device from an early Star Trek episode. This song held all Brand X was famous for in its olden days. It recalled the grace of Bruford and the retained the quirky-edged abandon of Brand X. Great stuff! Goodsall dabbles in Frippian territory ever so briefly. A bonus is two live cuts “hidden” Oops I told ya as unlisted tracks 11 and 12. Strongly recommended.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.