Brand X was a jazz fusion band active 1975–1980 and 1992–1999. Noted members included Phil Collins (drums), Percy Jones (bass), John Goodsall (guitar) and Robin Lumley (keyboards). In 1992, original members Goodsall and Jones formed a new trio version of Brand X, with drummer Frank Katz.
Brand X started in 1975 as a "jam" band signed by Island Records' Richard Williams. Williams A&R man Danny Wilding wrote down the name "Brand X" to keep track of their activity on the studio calendar and the name stuck. Original drummer John Dylan was replaced by Phil Spinelli, who left Brand X along with rhythm guitarist Pete Bonas after they contributed to several unreleased studio recordings at Island Records' Basing Street studio.
Genesis drummer Phil Collins took over on drums and in early 1976 Unorthodox Behaviour was released to coincide with an extensive UK tour. Collins had previously taken over lead vocals from Peter Gabriel in Genesis starting with the 1976 album A Trick of the Tail. In following years, when his solo or Genesis schedules conflicted with Brand X, Collins was replaced by an array of drummers, including Kenwood Dennard, Chuck Burgi, Mike Clark and more recently Frank Katz and Pierre Moerlen.
Percussionist and composer Morris Pert was added later for the follow-up Moroccan Roll (1977). (The band had previously employed other percussionists, including Gaspar Lawal, Bill Bruford and Preston Heyman). Also in 1976 the album Marscape was released by Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley featuring Jones, Goodsall & Collins of Brand X. In early 1977, Brand X needed a replacement drummer for Collins due to conflicting schedules with Genesis (although Collins rejoined for strategic dates throughout the year) and Kenwood Dennard of Pat Martino's group was recruited in New York, making his debut on the band's US tour (a 32-date affair in May and June 1977) and appearing on part of the live album Livestock (1977). Collins came back to the fold for a series of dates in September 1977 including two appearances on the same day in London (Crystal Palace garden party) and Paris (Fete de l’Humanite) where they played 2nd to last before an audience numbering over 230,000. This was the first time a band ever played two open-air shows in different countries on the same day. A second US tour followed late in the year, again with Dennard on drums.
In 1979, Collins re-joined Brand X for part of the series of recording sessions, which would generate enough material for two albums, 1979's Product and 1980's Do They Hurt?. These took place at Startling Studios, located in Ringo Starr's countryside home (formerly owned by John Lennon), with two distinct line-ups operating in alternation (Mike Clark again providing drums on the other tracks), as Percy Jones later explained. "Our record and management companies were both complaining about poor record sales and telling us we had to make the music more accessible. Some of the guys agreed to go along with this, but I felt, that to do this would not generate a new audience but would probably just alienate the one that we already had. The only solution was to have two bands, one being more accessible and the other being more experimental. For my stuff the lineup was Robinson, Clark, Goodsall and me; for the other direction it was Lumley, Collins and Goodsall with John Giblin on bass. We recorded in shifts, ours was 8pm to 4am and the others, 10am to 6pm".
A UK tour took place in April and May 1980 (co-headlining with Bruford), with Mike Clark again on drums. After Brand X's 1979 world tour (the last with Collins), Goodsall had moved to Los Angeles and worked as a session musician, and as a member of the band Zoo Drive (1980–1987), which included Doug Lunn, Paul Delph and Spinal Tap drummer Ric Parnell. Goodsall & Ric Parnell have created music together for many years. Parnell was instrumental in helping Goodsall get beyond the London/UK music scene. Some notable recordings from this time include the Atomic Rooster album Nice 'n' Greasy in 1973. Goodsall has also performed and/or recorded with Bill Bruford, Desmond Dekker, Peter Gabriel, Billy Idol, Bryan Adams, Toni Basil and Mark Isham. Goodsall released two albums with his band Fire Merchants, before reforming with Brand X and recording Xcommunication (1992) and Manifest Destiny (1997).
Goodsall and Jones formed a trio version of Brand X with drummer Frank Katz in 1992. To make up for the lack of a keyboard player, Goodsall used a Gibson Max MIDI-guitar system to trigger synths, samples and keyboard sounds along with his guitars. This line-up went on to record Xcommunication (1992), Manifest Destiny (1997), and tour Japan and Europe in 1997 with keyboard player Kris Sjobring and ex-Gong drummer Pierre Moerlen replacing Katz.
In recent years, Goodsall has recorded with Franz Pusch and performed regular solo concerts with guest musicians. Jones and Katz formed Tunnels with vibist Marc Wagnon (1993–2006), releasing five albums. Goodsall played guitar on three tracks on Tunnels album Progressivity (2002). Marc Wagnon also performed on Brand X's Manifest Destiny album.
1976 Unorthodox Behaviour - US #191
1977 Moroccan Roll - UK #37 US #125
1979 Product - US #165
1980 Do They Hurt? - US #204
1982 Is There Anything About? UK #93
1997 Manifest Destiny
1977 Livestock - largely recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club Aug/Sept 76 - US #204
1996 Live at the Roxy L.A. - recorded 23/9/79 (one of many existing audience recordings, all poor quality, all unauthorised)
2000 Timeline - live concerts 16/11/77 Chicago & 21/6/93 NYC
1986 Xtrax - tracks from first seven albums
1997 Missing Period - recorded 1975-1976, collection of lost session tapes
1999 X-Files: A 20 Year Retrospective - compilation including side projects
2003 Trilogy - Xcommunication + Manifest Destiny + live recording 27/9/79 NYC
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