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miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2016

Brand X - Do They Hurt? (1980)

Para ir extendiendo discografías en el blog cabezón, va este disco de Brand X con temas de las sesiones de Product que se quedaron en la lata. Un jazz rock cumplidor, si bien sin las luces que han mostrado en otros momentos.

Artista: Brand X
Álbum: Do They Hurt?
Año: 1980
Género: Jazz Rock / Fusión
Duración: 39:54
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra

Lista de Temas:
1. Noddy Goes to Sweden
2. Voidarama

3. Act of Will
4. Fragile
5. Cambodia
6. Triumphant Limp
7. D.M.Z.

- John Goodsall / Guitarra (excepto en 1), voz (3)
- J. Peter Robinson / Teclados, gong

- Percy Jones / Bajo (excepto en 2 y 6), voz (1)
- Mike Clark / Batería (excepto en 2 y 6)
- Morris Pert / Percusiones (1 y 4)
- John Giblin / Bajo (2 y 6)
- Phil Collins / Batería (2 y 6)

Do They Hurt? es un álbum armado con lo que sobró de las sesiones del plurivalente Product. En la reseña de Starostin que reproducimos más abajo, el sádico comentarista dice "¿Lastiman? ¡Sí, lastiman!" Como en Product, las alineaciones cambian aunque quizás no tanto, en realidad son dos alineaciones, una general y la segunda, con Giblin y Collins, para los temas "Voidarama" y "Triumphant Limp". Está la guitarra de John Goodsall y los teclados de J. Peter Robinson en todos los cortes, con lo que podría quedar claro que la parte armónico-melódica es constante, si no fuera porque en Brand X lo armónico-melódico no se entiende sin el bajo de Percy Jones, que falta en los temas mencionados. El resto cuenta con aportes de Mike Clark en los tambores y Morris Pert en percusiones.

Para no hacer el cuento largo, Do They Hurt? es un buen disco de fusión pero nada sobresaliente. Hay elementos de funk, ciertos deliciosos pasajes suavecitos como "Act of Will", en donde el teclado recuerda ciertas experimentaciones al estilo de la fusión estadounidense de Chick Corea o Herbie Hancock, incluso en el uso de vocoder para la voz, y el virtuosismo al fretless que ya le conocemos a Jones. No hay duda de que se trata de un disco de esos que se graban para cumplir contratos recogiendo materiales que no habían pasado el examen para producciones anteriores; no por eso desdeñable ya que se trata de un grupo de músicos de primerísima línea. A fin de cuentas, un disquito agradable de escuchar, con temas de corta duración (excepto los dos últimos) y ciertos highlights notables como "Fragile", suavemente experimental, "Cambodia", la más progresiva del set, y "Triumphant Limp", con los juegos instrumentales característicos de la guitarra de Goodsall y buenos cambios de ritmo sobre la maestría de Collins. A favor del disco, en comparación con Product, podemos decir que no tiene concesiones pop (fuera del ritmo final de "Act of Will"). "D.M.Z." es el tema más largo y más ecléctico, en el que además se recupera el sonido metálico del teclado en plan steel drum que aporta brillo y juego a la sopa, pero no tiene una estructura que podamos seguir y se acaba de repente, como si les hubieran quitado la luz.

La tapa, interesante como casi todas las de Brand X, es divertida: adelante una chica camina hacia un amenazante cocodrilo que se la va a comer, pero atrás tenemos otro ángulo de la escena en el que se ve a la chica cargando una cartera de cocodrilo que hace al reptil menos amenazante (defensores de los animales, no es nada personal).


Unas notitas en Wikipedia:
"Act of Will" is sung through a vocoder. John Goodsall himself said, in a private e-mail, that there were never any written lyrics. Various attempts have been made to puzzle out what he is saying, but the words are likely similar to Masoko Tanga by The Police and are not always words.
This album consists of out-takes from the Product sessions. Because "Noddy Goes to Sweden" was included on this album, the song "Pool Room Blues" gains the distinction of being the only non-album Brand X song.

Dave Conolly en Allmusic:

Brand X is guilty of going through the motions on Do They Hurt? At this juncture in Brand X's career, John Goodsall and Percy Jones are the principal forces, with Phil Collins, Morris Pert, and Robin Lumley reduced to a couple of cameos. Peter Robinson, who adopts Lumley's role of providing dreamy keyboards, and drummer Mike Clarke pick up the slack well enough, though John Giblin appears only on one track (the solid if predictably Goodsallian "Voidarama"). The album's strongest track is Goodsall's "Cambodia," which features his mesmerizing arpeggios and heroic guitar leads in a solid progressive rock instrumental. Little else on Do They Hurt? sounds better than outtakes from previous efforts, however. "Noddy Goes to Sweden" and "Triumphant Limp" are under-inspired efforts from Percy Jones; "Fragile!" (cowritten by Jones and Robinson) lacks the marimba-laden magic that made "Disco Suicide" so interesting. The album's most intriguing, and in many ways frustrating, track is "Act of Will," another attempt at a pop crossover from Goodsall that squanders a good melody by employing heavily treated (and barely intelligible) vocals from the guitarist. The record's final song, "D.M.Z.," is little more than a case of noodling around in a familiar environment. Over the years, Goodsall and Jones have developed unique compositional styles -- one listen will reveal who wrote what. But it's all been done better on earlier albums; without the eclectic approach of Product, Do They Hurt? reveals itself to be little more than a retread of earlier ideas. Of minor interest, Monty Python alumnus Michael Palin provides mildly amusing liner notes.

Sean Trane en Progarchives (hay más reseñas por ahí):

This album is a bit the direct continuation of the preceding Product, with the same participants but in varying degrees of involvement. While the artwork is semi-funny - a bloated crocodile represents the record companies and the "victim" is carrying an alligator skin purse on the back cover. As usual these guys are playing their virtuosic selves away, this time not even worrying whether someone is still listening. One thing is quite shocking though, Collins' simplified drumming is actually stunningly detestable on the track he plays on, and to be truthful Clarke's is not much different (DMZ)
Right from the opening notes of the ultra-funky Noddy Goes To Sweden's jazz-funk, one can feel that this is going to be a difficult task to sit through the album's entirety, Not only is the drumming and rhythmic pattern of Noddy are irritating, but the track is plagued by spoken words in the background. And it gets quickly even worse as the following Act Of Will is a pop tune with vocoderized vocals (not Phil's apparently). Between these two is the aptly-titled Void-arama is a fairly boring piece from Goodsall, a fairly repetitive guitar-dominated tune. The Fragile track is probably the real start of the album as we finally find what makes the group's identity. A long slow track filled with their usual clichés but it's probably as good as BX gets on this side of the vinyl.. Cambodia is a short sweet track that sounds nothing like the country it's named after, but Goodsall's guitar is all over the track. Triumphant Limp is another slow-paced track, where the band is free to jam
This one is not that bad as I make it out to be, but everything they had to say had been said a long time ago. Just another half-baked croissant like Product or Masques, thus making Brand X no better than Brand MO, Brand RTF, Brand WR or Brand EH. But otherwise the redundancy factor is striking making me redundant my reviews. I hate that!!!!

A Starostin, por supuesto, no le gustó para nada:

You're asking me? Yeah, they hurt! They hurt a lot! This album is the band at their absolute worst so far. It's as if nobody really cared any more - autopilot all the way from beginning to end. Two stars is a pretty big rating for this yawnfest, actually; count me generous because I really respect the band's tightness, and even at this point they could still get a workin' groove going pretty well once they were together. It's a different thing that nobody really knows or cares where this groove is supposed to be going. At best, this is just more generic fusion material for your ears; at worst, this is a professional, but still useless sonic mess. No interesting tunes or melodies in sight whatsoever. No Phil Collins apart from a couple meek participations. Even the vocals, which are present on two of the tracks, are rote - on 'Noddy Goes To Sweden', they seem to be transmitted backwards, and on 'Act Of Will', they're electronically encoded.
The only track worth mentioning in a teeny weeny positive key, I guess, is Goodsall's 'Cambodia'. And curiously enough, it is perhaps the closest Brand X have ever come to capturing some of the true "progressive" spirit, sort of a cross between the classic Genesis and the classic King Crimson sound. Mid-tempo, seriously loaded with overdubs, stuffed with slow moody guitar solos, and never forgetting to add a solid dose of distortion so as not to sound "sissy" or "Renaissance Fair like" or something like that, it's really good when at least set next to everything else. The basic riff could be said to have been influenced by 'Starship Trooper', too, i.e. what you have is a slowly rising crescendo with a keewl guitar solo at the end (well, actually, starting from the second minute onwards, if you wanna nitpick about Brand X of all things). It's a good number.
The rest just doesn't cut it. 'Act Of Will' pretends to be pop, but it's really way too meek and unmemorable to be good pop. A very basic four-four rhythm, and very similar to all the filler of Genesis around the time (not the good 'uns, nope). And the electronic encoding idea was kinda dumb, as much dumb as it is pointless, at least. Then there is 'Noddy Goes To Sweden', with its backwards vocals; I guess that funky style is supposed to be 'novel', or at least, quirky enough to affect your emotions, but I find nothing grappling about it anyway. And considering that it is immediately followed by the first piece of generic fusion, 'Voidarama', it gets forgotten quickly enough as you prepare to lapse into the usual trance, this time of a pretty unhealthy nature, though.
'Fragile' might be of use to avantgarde lovers, but to me, it only makes matters worse - remedying the lack of ideas by including five minutes of dissonance, prime atonality and scattered annoying drumbeats doesn't look like a good issue. Things kinda pick up again with 'Cambodia', but it is again followed by, this time, two really lengthy fusion-fests, and when they're over, so is the album. You blinked, and you winked, and you got one solid tune and a bunch of forgettable crap. A particularly bad thing is how goddamn quiet this all is. For some reason (maybe he was stoned, or just really didn't give a damn any more), Goodsall absolutely refuses to play his finger-flashing arpeggios and all, apart from maybe just a couple of times. The guitar, the synths, the bass, even the drums are quiet almost to the point of annoyance; maybe it's also partially fault of the production, because everything is so muffled, even when you turn the volume up to the max you still won't get your neighbours upset.
I guess this is actually what happens when your band is hardly a real band, but a loose aggregate of conflicting interests and partial dedications. You can never guarantee that everybody you're working with will be inspired or whatever. A lot actually seemed to depend on Collins, in particular, and he was clearly vacant for this setting. I seem to recall from somewhere that Percy Jones was mostly in command, and what can you expect from a friggin' bass player unless he's Phil Lynott or, well, Paul McCartney. In any case, this is neither good fusion nor a good prog-fusion mix, and even fusion fans are usually ready to admit that. So whatcha want from me? I've suffered enough!

Muestras de botón!

En vivo, la genial "Nuclear Burn" de Unorthodox Behaviour, seguida de "Cambodia":

"Act of Will"

6 comentarios:

  1. Por acá (flac + cue + scans):

  2. "Cumplidor", una buena definición y no solo para este álbum, sino en general para muchos discos y bandas. Aunque a algunos una buena maduración en los anaqueles les hace bien (nuestros oídos también cambian). Saludos.

  3. Grosos Uds., Cabezones! Gracias por compartir el último álbum de la primera etapa de Brand X. Ya con este tengo la pentalogía de álbumes con el Philco Collins

  4. Pregunta: la primera canción se titula "Nobody Goes To Sweden" o "Noddy Goes To Sweden"?

  5. Es Noddy, tienes razón, lo corregimos... Gracias


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Este espacio se reserva el derecho de publicar sobre cualquier tema que parezca interesante a su staff, no solamente referidos a la cuestión musical sino también a lo político y social.
Si no estás de acuerdo con lo expresado podrás dejar tu comentario siempre que no sea ofensivo, discriminador o violento...

Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).