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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Brand X: Live at the Roxy LA Review

Recorded at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, California on September 23, 1979, this is just one example of a myriad of tapes that legendary British jazz-fusion act had of their many live shows. Most of which unfortunately have been lost over the years, but this previously unreleased soundboard recording from that night has been recovered by the band and now part of Gonzo Multimedia's Brand X rarities release campaign.

Featuring Phil Collins (drums, vocals), Robin Lumley (keyboards), John Goodsall (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), and Peter Robinson (keyboards), this is pretty much the 'classic' line-up of Brand X, and they show why throughout this 6 song set. "Disco Suicide/Algon" just burns from start to finish, complete with raging bursts from the rhythm duo of Collins & Jones (Percy's nimble bass lines are a thing of beauty) as Goodsall's savage guitar licks tear through the mix, weaving about the gorgeous keyboard tapestries of Lumley and Robinson. It's a high energy start to this excellent archival live release. "Dance of the Illegal Aliens" features some atmospheric electric piano & synth, tricky drum fills, and some otherworldly bass grooves courtesy of Jones. Goodsall's searing guitar makes an immediate impact on the rocking "Don't Make Waves", somewhat of a departure for this little 'jazz group', as Collins' lead vocals pair up nicely with the prog/hard rock arrangements. Percy takes center stage on the delicious "Malaga Virgin", a winding, Weather Report/Return to Forever styled jazz-fusion ripper, chock full of acrobatic bass, dizzying electric piano, intricate drumming, and wild electric guitar. The band gets a tad darker on "...And So to F...", a Collins penned number that slowly builds to a rumbling conclusion with Goodsall & Collins firing away on all cylinders. John's soloing here is intense to say the least, and a must hear for fans of McLaughlin, DiMeola, and Holdsworth. Of course, what better way to end this set than with "Nuclear Burn", a complete barnburner of a complex jazz-fusion piece that allows all the players to shine.

As this is a soundboard recording, the quality is pretty good, and you'll be left wishing that there were more of these out there. Proof positive that Brand X in their prime were a lean, mean, jazz-fusion machine, Live at the Roxy LA is a must hear for any fan of the genre.

Track Listing 
1) Disco Suicide/Algon 
2) Dance of the Illegal Aliens 
3) Don't Make Waves 
4) Malaga Virgin 
5) ...And So to F... 
6) Nuclear Burn

Added: February 7th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Gonzo Multimedia


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