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martes, 19 de enero de 2016

Brand X - Product (1979)

Teníamos pendiente postear algunos discos de Brand X, así que ¡aquí vamos! En el 79 Phil Collins regresa para hacer este buen disco de una forma pop de jazz rock con la participación de músicos diversos.

Artista: Brand X
Álbum: Product
Año: 1979
Género: Jazz Rock / Fusión
Duración: 47:15
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. Don't Make Waves
2. Dance of the Illegal Aliens

3. Soho
4. Not Good Enough - See Me!
5. Algon (Where an Ordinary Cup of Drinking Chocolate Costs £8,000,000,000)
6. Rhesus Perplexus
7. Wal to Wal
8. ...And So to F...
9. April

Alineación:
- Mike Clarke / Batería (2, 4)
- Phil Collins / Batería, percusiones, voz (1, 3, 5-9)

- John Goodsall / Guitarras, voz (1-6, 8-9)
- John Giblin / Bajos (1, 3, 5-7, 9)
- Robin Lumley / Teclados, efectos (1, 3, 5-6, 8-9)
- Morris Pert / Percusiones (2, 4)
- Peter Robinson / Teclados, efectos (2, 4)
- Percy Jones / Bajos (2, 4, 7-8)

Product es el cuarto disco de estudio de Brand X, que sale con la presencia de músicos diversos y alineaciones cambiantes, pero con un sólido y alegre Phil Collins de nuevo en las filas. Sin ser un álbum espectacular es un buen ejemplo de cómo músicos inteligentes tratan de concentrar en una producción tanto sus influencias y orígenes más arriesgados como un sonido que sea capaz de colocarse en el mercado del pop (hay dos singles muy new wave), que para ese momento ya está en plena transformación con la incorporación del disco y la música bailable.

"Don't Make Waves" es una especie de Ouroboros, la serpiente que se muerde a sí misma, pues habla de no hacer olas, de no buscar cambios y transformaciones, y lo hace con un fraseo totalmente pop, pero intercalado con compases de experimentación muy interesantes. ¿Cómo hacer música pop, pegajosa y simple y al mismo tiempo interesante? Pues así: "Don't Make Waves".

"Dance of the Illegal Aliens" (de donde Collins probablemente tomará ideas para una producción posterior) arranca con un unísono instrumental típico del jazz rock y se sigue con un beat funky llevado por el bajo de Percy Jones, a quien ya conocemos por ser la columna vertebral de la banda, aunque en este disco no está en todas las rolas. Sobre ese beat y sus quiebres en unísono, los solos de teclados electrónicos son muy buenos, pero definitivamente el bajo es el protagonista principal, en este tema largo y lleno de variaciones, toda una montaña rusa. En la batería está Mike Clarke y además cuenta con percusiones menores a cargo de Morris Pert. Entre el minuto 4 y el 6 el sonido es plenamente progresivo, hasta alcanzar un cierre más francamente rockero con la guitarra de John Goodsall recordando su gran creatividad.

En "Soho" reaparece Collins con un beat francamente pop y cantando otra vez. Al final es interesante que la letra diga: "En las calles de Soho tenemos rock, jazz o disco", que nos habla claramente de las intenciones de fusión que tiene la banda en los sencillos 1 y 3.

"Not Good Enough - See Me!" empieza con el virtuoso bajo solo de Jones, al que se suma la batería de Clarke en plan espectacular y la guitarra de Goodsall. En un tempo vertiginoso, con compases complejos, hacia la mitad se transforma totalmente en solo de bajo, introduciendo un beat más fijo sobre el que juegan los demás instrumentos. Hacia los cinco minutos se vuelve ambiental, y de ahí recupera el tempo loco y los juegos entre bajo y teclado con tremendo apoyo de la batería. Un cierre progresivo como en los mejores momentos del Brand X de los primeros discos.

"Algon (Where an Ordinary Cup of Drinking Chocolate Costs
£8,000,000,000)" vuelve a mostrar a Collins en la batería, pero por fin sin cantar y sin concesiones pop. El bajo de Giblin no tiene el virtuosismo del de Jones pero cumple con una sonoridad muy similar y buen aprovechamiento del fretless. La rola se va hacia lo eufórico, a gran velocidad, con lujo de teclados viajando sobre la estupenda batería de Collins. Los solos montados de teclado y guitarra al final son dignos de escuchar con atención.

"Rhesus Perplexus" es muy latin, de cadencia rápida cercana a la samba y con una guitarra acústica que llega a tener acentos flamencos. Destaca aquí la cadencia del conjunto y su capacidad de mesura y dinámica. No cabe duda de que Collins se divierte tocando este estilo, especialmente en las salidas de compás en que recurren al acorde de cierre como lo acuñó el Chick Corea de Return to Forever.

"Wal to Wal" vuelve a mostrar a Jones en el bajo, lo que se siente desde el inicio con un virtuosismo discreto pero muy vivo sobre percusión latina a cargo del mismo Collins (en realidad es una caja de ritmos Roland, que también usaría en el Duke de Genesis) y apoyado por una base de segundo bajo de Giblin. Es un tema más parejo, menos dinámico que los demás, dedicado casi por completo al bajo de Jones.

"...And So to F..." tiene como protagonista inicial una guitarra melodiosa, que se va a silencio y abre el paso a una estructura de compás complejo basada en teclado, bajo y batería; sobre esta base, la guitarra vuelve con el tema de apertura para irse complicando con cada vez mayor distorsión. Hacia el final el beat recuerda ciertos momentos de Genesis (las partes instrumentales más vivas de "Cinema Show" o "Supper's Ready"), con la guitarra en primer plano y un sonido sinfónico de teclado haciendo de autopista.

Por último viene "April", con una atmósfera percusiva que parece provenir de un palo de lluvia, y el bajo de Giblin haciendo una figura casi caribeña, suavecita, que se va hacia el silencio poco a poco para cerrar el disco.

Hay en el álbum cierta unidad conceptual, aun cuando la alineación de las pistas cambia, y, claro, haciendo caso omiso de las dos concesiones al pop cantado de Collins, pero en general es un buen disco de fusión inglesa hecho por un conjunto de músicos virtuosos en sesión. Y hay que destacar el gran trabajo del estudio Hipgnosis para la carátula que es una de las más interesantes y creativas de la época.




 

Otras reseñas:

Dave Conolly en Allmusic:

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.

Reginod en Rate Your Music:

Brand X's indulgences always led to some fascinating listening; on Product the band veered all over the place, much like Percy Jones' (once again) rubbery bass on "Not Good Enough - See Me." It is one of this albums' many bass-centric moments, along with the bass duet "Wal to Wal," which seems a tongue-in-cheek pairing of Jones with John Giblin, who is in turn the composer and  central instrumental component of the album's earthy and gentle closing track "April."
Guitarist John Goodsall wrote the first track on side one, which featured a great vocal from Phil Collins; it would have fit in well on Wind And Wuthering or ...And Then There Were Three...; Collins also played the drums thereupon, with all the energetic abandon and ebullience that, alas, deserted him years ago.
"Dance Of The Illegal Aliens" dances about from twist to turn over its nearly seven-minute duration, never settling in squarely on "prog" or "fusion," with Jones displaying some Jaco-like tendencies. Goodsall also turns in one of his typical "slightly out-of-tune" solos on the outro; such twists and unique qualities make the track a fascinating listen even today.
Co-written by Collins and Goodsall, "Soho" is probably the "lightest" track on the album, foreshadowing Collins' pure pop tendencies, yet it was far too unconventional for commercial radio, even in 1979. The workaholic drummer (he was after all an extraordinarily busy musician in those days) also wrote the 6:34 "...And So To F..."  whereupon Mr. Collins drummed with a ferocity that Genesis may well have nixed (the track reminds me of a particular Genesis rhythm, which I cannot identify).
The only track that Robin Lumley contributed may have been the album's best; "Algon" is the opening track on side two and has a certain, soaring joyfulness about it. 
Perhaps it is a bit of a grab-bag rekkid, with a hodge-podge of band members, but I'll take such a product from this brand most any day.

Piero Scaruffi:

Product (1979) was, instead, a commercial detour (Soho), although occasionally above the average (Jones' Dance of the Illegal Aliens and Rhesus Perplexus).

La opinión siempre ácida de George Starostin:

At this point Brand X really becomes a mess, and it'd take a specialist to analyze this period of activity. Phil Collins and Robert Lumley return to the band as actual members, yet it's not like any of the others are out. Rather it's, uhm, a "collective" project, somewhat similar to Yes' Union (well, relax, that's not necessarily bad or anything). Let's see, we have Phil on drums and vocals, Lumley on keyboards, Percy Jones on bass, Goodsall on guitar, then there's the new regular drummer Mike Clarke and another bassist, John Giblin, and another keyboardist, and Morris Pert credited for percussion, and a whole bunch of producers, too.
And despite the chaos, it's still the best Brand X album in years. Sure, in a perfectly conscious tongue-in-cheek manner it was dubbed Product because it dared to actually include two pop songs with Collins on vocals - blasphemy! But if you ask me, I don't see how putting a couple lightweight poppy numbers on here makes this any more of a 'product' than the preceding Masques. Maybe Masques had less commercial potential, but it was all built on the same, absolutely stagnated, formula, whereas Product at least offers some diggings into new territory.
Not that the two pop songs are tremendously interesting. Goodsall's 'Don't Make Waves' is essentially a loud-sounding nothing, maybe something that pretends to be a jazz-influenced power-pop send-up, but it's hardly inspired at all. It does sound a bit similar to the way A Trick Of The Tail opened, a huge, bombastic tune with a tricky verse structure (and Collins sounds just as inexplainably pissed off as he did while singing 'you gotta start doing it right'), but it's just not memorable at all. Nor impressive, all you people who say I overrate memorability. There, I said it, a song can be impressive without being memorable, but this one is neither. Say, do you have the least idea why my Brand X reviews turn out to be so boring as I'm getting them out of my system? Me, I don't have the least idea. Such an exciting, thrilling band. 'Soho' is, like, one of the best songs ever written this side of Foreigner's 'Cold As Ice'!
Seriously now, 'Soho' is pretty good, totally in the vein of Collins' early Eighties Genesis, and with a well-expected bit of social critique as well (actually, 'Don't Make Waves' is supposed to be a protest song, too. It's just with such an obviously mainstream guy like Phil, you don't even notice how many violent anti-The Man and anti-The System songs he's ever written. Which is his safety belt - when put to trial for murder like 'Hold On My Heart', he can always get away by saying, 'hey, I did "Land Of Confusion" and "Jesus He Knows Me", too!'). These two songs, one mediocre and one sympathetic, don't really seem to fit with the rest of the tunes, traditionally instrumental, but they add a solid touch of diversity. Me happy.
As for the rest, I'd say it's still a slight improvement over the flawless boringness of Masques. Instead of turning every song into a vehicle for Goodsall's "look at me playing faster than John McLaughlin, it's getting better every day!" routine, they occasionally go for an atmospheric punch (again!), and try to alternate generic fusion with Genesis-like mid-tempo prog-rock, which in turn was already involving into Genesis-like mid-tempo pop-rock; I'd even say that Product is a must for any Genesis fan because it illustrates the direction of their transformation better than just about anything else. 'Dance Of The Illegal Aliens', for instance, which later provided a name for Phil's well-known 1983 hit, at times sounds like 'Los Endos' from 1976 and at other times like 'The Brazilian' from 1986... well, approximately so, but you get the idea. It's very light and dancey, but every once in a while you get something weird, like a dissonant bass solo.
Elsewhere there's still some of generic fusion ('Not Good Enough' is a typical offender which I can't really tolerate because I've had my fair share of that stuff on the preceding album). BUT: 'Algon' is something that rather comes close to instrumental adult contemporary, very slow (except when it speeds up for a few minutes in the middle), very moody, with very carefully and meticulously placed guitar chords without any hints at finger-flashing; 'Rhesus Perplexus' is more pure jazz than anything else, with Goodsall's Pat Metheny-like chops (okay, so I copped that reference from the All-Music Guide, but at least I have the guts to admit it) and a soothing lax climate overall; 'Wal To Wal' is a strange drum-machine based number with the bass guitar as the most prominent instrument - hey, doesn't that song give us the first example of "drum'n'bass"?; 'And So To F' is a b-i-g optimistic number representing spring, hope, love, Krishna and pepperoni pizza; and 'April' is more of an ambient mood-emphasizing closer than an actual tune, but it's a good closer.
But of course, it's not like I'm reveling in the splendour of all this, I don't actually find even a single great song on the album. Essentially, it's mood music like almost everything else this band recorded - the good thing is, it ain't annoying mood music. I could easily put this on without the risk of annoying anybody in the same room with me, because really, when Masques is playing and Goodsall plays his electric current arpeggios for the fiftieth time in a row, it's like, "man, this isn't even funny any more". And I concur.

Sean Trane en ProgArchives (hay varias reseñas más ahí):

The return of Collins and Lumley?. Was not necessarily a good thing, even if Masques showed the band's weaknesses, not that much in the songwriting, but in the waning inspiration of the collective soul of the group. If Lumley is back, Robinson that had replaced him is still there as well. While C & L play in six of the 9 tracks, there are two different drummers (Clarke >> Hancock's Head Hunters), but also Jones shares bass duty with John Giblin (with whom Collins work with on the John Martyn early 80's albums, but also plays in Peter Gabriel's solo efforts), thus creating a schizophrenic group, and the resulting album being just as weak (all things staying relative of course) as Masques was. A very ugly collage serves as artwork for an album that in some ways is very aptly titled.
Right from the first few seconds of the opening Don't Make Waves, we know we're in trouble when Phil starts singing? Nothing really all that catastrophic though, as the music behind Collins' Duke/Abacab-era vocals is still fairly impressive, a technical high-powered jazz-rock ala Colosseum II - I'm thinking of Strange New Flesh, here. Another sung track, Soho would fit on Collins' solo albums better than on a Brand X album and it definitely ruins the album. A bit further down the album, Giblin obviously heard the first Metheny albums as Rhesus Perplexus could easily come from Pat's repertoire. The double bass track proves the drop that overflowed the bucket?. a bassist diet
On the more instrumental and less "commercial" side, Illegal Aliens is a Jones-penned track where he over-exposes his bass, a bit the same Pastorius would, with all the excesses and disservices to the music. The second half of the track is much more balanced track, though. Not Good Enough is a cold over-calculated fusion piece where Jones is taking too much space (he's the writer, though) and if the musicianship is impressive, the lack of soul is also. The Lumley-penned Algon is probably the best track of the album along with Collins' And So to F---, both hot fusion pieces that hover around the best Santana stuff (Caravanserai) and RTF (warrior), while the album closes on the barely existing April
Definitely not BX's best album, it does have its moments beyond the useless virtuoso playing and the awful commercial tracks. The waning inspiration impression I had with Masque is only enhanced with this one and one can only think of the repeated formulae this album is delivering us, redundancy being the next step. Only the sheer and excellent musicianship and some bright moments stop me from rating this lower than the three stars.

Por último, una reseña entusiasta de Tuco H en Amazon, en la que recomienda el remaster japonés que es el que posteamos acá:

Three of the greatest, most intense fusion tracks ever recorded by homo-sapiens make their permanent residence on this album. These are "Dance of the Illegal Aliens" by Percy Jones (who plays bass on tracks 2, 4, 7 & 8), "Rhesus Perplexus" by John Giblin (an incredible bassist, who played on the first 3 Peter Gabriel & first two Phil Collins albums, and one of the few good enough to fill in for Percy on tracks 1, 3, 5, & 9 & duet with him on track 7) and the mind-blowing "And So to F..." by Phil Collins (his drumming-highness rocket-blasts his incredible sounding & very loud set in all directions on tracks 1,3 & 5-thru-9, monster ex-Herbie-Hancock drummer Mike Clarke, also known today as 'the-most-sampled-drummer-in-hip-hop', filling in for Phil on tracks 2 & 4).
The rest of the album is good but these 3 are the tracks where everything clicks and comes together to a level of perfection that just knocks people's socks off into the next dimension. These gems of uber-musicianship and non-compromise that not only succeed but soar into the skies are what have made Brand-X a legendary band, especially in Japan where to this day, 30 years later, they have almost rock-star status. John Goodsall's hyper-speed guitar solos that always tend to seek to raise the intensity of a Brand-X tune a few more notches still above its already wired state into the red without combusting the group fit in perfectly here. The traditionally understated patented Brand-X analog keyboard sounds by Lumely & Robinson provide just the right level of relaxed respite and playfulness to cushion and cool things down in high gear for a while before things torque-up again. "Rhesus Perplexus" even shows some Pat Metheny and George Benson influences but a funky, melodic, jazzy track with a louder, thicker drum-and-bass sound and a more odd meter you will search for for a long time and never find. "And So to F..." has the distinction of being simultaneously the most accessible tune and one of the most intensely propulsive in the Brand-X universe, using an odd-meter, but with a danceable, hummable rhythm on top that the scorching, fire-breathing, hyper-speed Goodsall guitar solos seem to rip to shreds before it returns again, as Collins, Percy and company give the world a master class in how to play with dynamics and maximum intensity at the same time.
"Product" was recorded in 1979 and is probably the best-sounding Brand-X album overall as it benefits from the workaholic studio perfectionism that Phil Collins was getting into at the time right after Genesis had their biggest hit until then with "Follow You, Follow Me." The unique drum sound he had perfected on "Trick of the Tail" & "Unorthodox Behaviour," sounds even more perfect and refined here and Phil seems to have made sure the engineers got Mike Clarke's sound & Giblin's bass sound recorded as close to his & Percy's sounds as possible also so that the Brand-X experience overall sounds consistent. But to hear all this to best advantage you need to get the 2006 Japanese remaster, not the old 1990 release. There is 16 years of technological improvement there and Japan is where Brand-X truly gets their proper respect. It is definitely worth it for vastly improved sound and you can find it on yab-e for about 15 to 17 bucks.

Y los botones de muestra:

...And So to F...



Algon (en vivo)



2 comentarios:

  1. Acá (flac + cue + log + scans):
    http://pastebin.com/zcipznXB

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  2. Cómo anduve buscando este disco, por Dios!! Gracias por tenerlo, Nep! Gracias por tan buena musica!

    Frank

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