Our top 10 Brand X songs list presents the music of an English band famed for its jazz fusion. The band started in 1974 with its notable founding members set to be drummer Phil Collins (currently of Genesis) and bassist Percy Jones. However, with Phil Collins caught up with a string of things to do, his place would be taken by John Dillon for a short time before he was back. The band was lucky to have signed a recording contract with Island Records. Island Records has been home to reputable artists including U2 Grace Jones, Bob Marley, Avicii, Hozier, and Iggy Azalea.
Brand X recorded and released its debut album Unorthodox Behavior in 1976. The album was positively received by jazz fans worldwide, having it peak at the one hundred and nineteenth position on the Billboard 200 album chart. Following the successful release, the band attended several gigs to entertain fans while promoting the album. Geoff Seopardi joined the band for a short on the percussions to make Brand X a five-piece jazz fusion act.
Afterward, the band hit the road for multiple tours in the UK, amassing both revenue and a larger fanbase. Brand X members felt motivated by the little success they had achieved; hence, they returned to the studio to record a sophomore album. With the departure of Geoff, the band took in two more percussionists to fill in the position. However, by the time the band was recording its sophomore album Moroccan Roll (1977), the band had already signed Morris Pert full-time on the percussions.
Moroccan Roll (1975) performed even better than the band’s debut album, reaching number one hundred and twenty-five on the Billboard 200. While the album’s title might seem to allude to rock and roll elements, Brand X maintained its jazz fusion vibes. However, you can feel the songs on the album experiment with Eastern sounds, making the band’s sound slightly softer. The album also went on to peak at number thirty-seven on the UK Album Chart.
While Phil Collins might have been a great pillar to the band’s success, he was tied up by commitments that saw him leave the band shortly. Due to its forthcoming US tour, the band was quick to have someone fill in the empty drummer position. Kenwood Dennard, who played with the American jazz composer and guitarist Pat Martino was hired. The band would later recruit drummer Chuck Burgi of The Billy Joel Band and former Quatermass keyboardist Peter Robinson to record Masques (1978). How would the band fair on its third studio album, the first without drummer Phil Collins?
Sadly, the album didn’t perform so well compared to albums before it. The band tried to redeem itself with the release of Product (1979). Phil Collins made an appearance on this album and seemed to be a missing piece to the success of the band’s releases. This follows the album’s ranking at the one hundred and sixty-fifth position on the Billboard 200. Brand X released two more albums Do They Hurt? (1980) and Is There Anything About (1982) b
The band would go on a long break without a release until its members hit the studio for the release of X-Communication in the group’s new formation. (1992). Five years later, Brand X released its final studio album Manifest Destiny (1997). The band stayed active sporadically until the death of three of its members in 2021, which saw Brand X retire. Brand X might be gone, but its music remains to be a lifelong souvenir of what jazz fusion used to feel like in the ’70s. Here we present to you the best Brand X songs of all time.
#10 – D.M.Z.
Ushering us to the top 10 Brand X songs is the hit “D.M.Z.” The song is featured on the band’s album Do They Hurt? (1980). Percy Jones has his bass guitar ooze perfection in his skills in this stunning jazz fusion hit. While Phil Collins of Genesis was the band’s favorite drummer, Brand X was preparing for a life without him by the time Do They Hurt? (1980) was being released. Hence, the drumming roles were split between Phil Collins and Mike Clark on this album. Mike Clark delivers a charming performance on the drums in “D.M.Z.”
#9 – Deadly Nightshade
“Deadly Nightshade” is one of Brand X’s best jazz-rock tunes ever released. The song is featured on the band’s album Masques (1978). In this song, we again miss Phil Collins on the drumming roles, with his place temporarily occupied by Chuck Burgi, the current drummer in The Billy Joel Band. The song’s title is derived from Atropa belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, a herb known for its unpredictable effects. Like the herb, “Deadly Nightshade” features unexpected musical delights, which are beautifully arranged to bring glamor on this hit.
#8 – Dance of The Illegal Aliens
Basslines never sounded so powerful than in “Dance of The Illegal Aliens.” Released on the band’s fourth studio album Product (1979), “Dance of The Illegal Aliens” was Percy Jones’ song to shine. His bass lines feel so alive and way above mediocre. The drums add tight rhythm sections to the song, especially when the song’s instrumental goes a little aggressive. “Dance of The Illegal Aliens” can be best described as an “alien” tune in the jazz fusion scene.
#7 – …Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All
“…Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All” is a pianissimo jazz fusion hit from the band’s sophomore album Moroccan Roll (1977). The song is delivered in an ambient tune that is enough to send chills down your spine. Jazz fans have only one question for Brand X concerning this song. Why was “…Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All” short? Very few songs have impacted like this short yet awe-inspiring jazz fusion hit. While the song contains vocals, they are wordless. This doesn’t seem to be a problem since the echoing voice complements the song’s instrumental.
#6- Old Grey Whistle Test
Number six on our top 10 Brand X songs is the hit “Old Grey Whistle Test.” Once again, Phil Collins proves to be such a spectacular drummer. Listening to “Old Grey Whistle Test” makes you realize how much Brand X is indebted to Phil Collins, especially in its initial stages.
#5- Sun in The Night
“Sun in The Night” is featured on Brand X’s album Moroccan Roll (1977). Brand X made a huge gamble by experimenting with Eastern sounds in the sophomore album. Amazingly, the gamble paid off with the album charting on the UK Album Chart at number thirty-seven. “Sun in The Night” is a mezzo-piano hit that finds Phil Collins giving us some vocals spice in Sanskrit. The British duo Lighthouse Family released a song under the same title on their album Postcards from Heaven (1997).
#4 – A Longer April
Is There Anything About? (1982) was the band’s sixth album and home to our number three best Brand X song, “A Longer April.” The song is an extended version of “April,” a song featured on Product (1979). “A Longer April” takes us through seven minutes of total jazz vibes from Brand X. With this extended version of “April,” we have some synth noises added to spice this song’s overall feel. Magnificent saxophone solos by Raphael Ravenscroft make this song quite unique. Raphael Ravenscroft is also known for his contribution to “Baker Street” by rock singer Gerald Rafferty.
#3- Born Ugly
Released on Brand X’s debut album Unorthodox Behavior (1976) is the jazz fusion hit “Born Ugly.” For those who managed to see Percy Jones perform this song live, you can admit that his bass skills are unmatched by many in the jazz scene. “Born Ugly” adds to the catalog of jazz fusion gems of all time.
#2- Manifest Destiny
What would life without Phil Collins feel like for Brand X? “Manifest Destiny” from the band’s final album of the same title answers us right. Frank Katz’s drumming on this song is fairly good. However, the powerful bass and guitars make this song a perfect jazz fusion piece. Goodsall, Wagnon, Jones, and Katz combined efforts in penning this song.
#1- Nuclear Burn
Number one on our top 10 Brand X songs list is the song “Nuclear Burn.” In most of the other songs, we have put to light the awe-inspiring skills of drummer Phil Collins and bassist Percy Jones. “Nuclear Burn” ushers us to the best guitar riffs by John Goodsall and the captivating keyboard work by Lumley. Thanks to the great musicianship displayed in this song that “Nuclear Burn” makes the perfect definition of a complete jazz fusion masterpiece.
Photo: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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