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Trilogy III: Live At the Bottom Line

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

a great moment frozen in time

Brand X was one of several British bands that represented a point on the musical graph where American jazz-rock fusion (Weather Report, Return to Forever) met the pomp and circumstance of British prog rock. What made this band special was the participation of Phil Collins (and the Headhunters' Mike Clarke when Collins was unavailable), and a Python-ish sense of humor. (One of their song titles, "Algon", actually came from a Monty Python sketch.) Instead of focusing on long solos, Brand X was about atmosphere and a tendency toward odd-metered, if propulsive, rhythms. Collins seemed desperate to prove that he was a great drummer, and the evidence is pretty compelling. I was present at the show documented on this album. At a distance of 25+ years, it seems a shade quaint, a great moment frozen in time. But there is also a dark energy that still burns as startlingly as it did in 1979. There are some wonderful riffs, like the turnaround on "Don't Make Waves" that Collins seems to relish as the tune vamps to a conclusion. Percy Jones is still every bit as original sounding a bass player. And the band is obviously feeding off an extremely enthusiastic New York audience. If you have a taste for fusion, or just want to hear a great drummer in his prime, check this one out.

Need to make waves

"Don't make Waves" and "Dance of The Illegal Aliens" was off another album called "Product"...and....uhhmmm...where is this "product" on Itunes? Why does Itunes carry only certain records? We want the bleepin' studio version!!! Hey, I'm warning you Itunes, If I go out an by a turntable that transfers songs to MP3's you'll lose my business!

Blast from the past

Damn! I think I was at this show as well! It was fun to see P.C. stretching out on the drum kit, but Robinson's contribution was less than I had hoped for and he sort of dominated with a sound unfamiliar to early Brand X fans. Didn't compare to their powerful set at the Palladium when they opened for Supertramp (wise fans left after their set)


Formed: 1974 in England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Brand X were a British jazz-rock fusion outfit formed by Genesis drummer Phil Collins and Atomic Rooster guitarist John Goodsall as a side project from their regular groups. Their initial lineup also included keyboardist Robin Lumley and bassist Percy Jones (the Liverpool Scene, the Scaffold). Brand X's debut album, Unorthodox Behaviour, was released in 1976; a live album, Livestock, and the studio effort Moroccan Roll followed in 1977. Collins left the group to concentrate on Genesis, and for 1978's...
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Trilogy III: Live At the Bottom Line, Brand X
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