Monday, 4 March 2013

Brand X - Livestock (1977)

Brand X is a classic jazz fusion band, noted for including Phil Collins in its ranks. Its original incarnation was active between 1974–1980. Other important members were John Goodsall (guitar) Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (keyboards) and Morris Pert (percussion).

Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Club, London, Sept. 1976, Hammersmith Odeon, London and The Marquee Club, London, August 1977, this release was the required evidence that the first two albums weren't just a lot of studio trickery. It seems these hefty slices of performance were selected to make the next logical step in the creative progression after Unorthodox Behaviour and Moroccan Roll. Overall, probably the mellowest and spaciest Brand X album, though it still kicks pretty hard in a couple of spots.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz-Rock
Original Release Date: 1977
Label: Toshiba EMI Ltd

John Goodsall- guitar
Percy Jones- bass
Robin Lumley- keyboards
Morris Pert- Percussion
Phil Collins- drums (tracks 2, 3 & 5)
Kenwood Dennard- drums (tracks 1 & 4)

The live adventures of the mathematically minded and mellow-eastern Brand X. Livestock is one of the most subdued-sounding live albums I own; percussion percolates, basses bubble, keyboards creep and guitars growl in this arid, exotic landscape. Concert albums that feature new material (as this does) are interesting animals, and a very different animal than The Bruford Tapes. Bruford’s live album was raw, raucous and familiar. Livestock is a calculated exploration of old terrain and new lands. It’s a little like getting half a new album with some live versions tacked on, as close to an EP as sits on the Brand X shelf. Thus it’s the least essential of the first four albums. The timing of its release is also questionable. Was the clamor for another Brand X album so great after six months, or did Charisma see Livestock as a last opportunity for the band to cash in on Collins’ cachet? Collins himself is replaced by Kenwood Dennard on two tracks, perhaps because of conflict with the Wind & Wuthering tour, and this does effectively answer the question many people were asking of where Collins’ loyalties would lie when push came to shove. Genesis came first, Brand X second, and the third album all but stated that. So Livestock is at the same time a short celebration and a slight hissing of air from the Brand X balloon. After you’ve purchased everything up to Product, looking in Livestock for something to snack on is the logical next step. Personally, I prefer my fusion more explosive. The music of Livestock, like Soft Machine, consists more of gentle eruptions and complex patterns, typical of music constructed by keyboardists and drummers. The subsequent Masques has more soul and spirit, so feel free to skip ahead and save Livestock for another day. All Music Guide

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