Brand X: Masques

Brand X’s 3rd album finds the band returning to the kind of jazz fusion of the debut, Unorthodox Behaviour, following Moroccan Roll (which in reality couldn’t be further from the title pun), an album that explored lighter eastern sounds, which is surprising when observing the album cover of Masques. The LP is also the band’s first without Phil Collins, who temporarily buggered off to work on that appalling piece of work with that other band…Hint: One of them squonked off on a solo career, while the other three were left in the wuthering winds…

Collin’s temporary departure from Brand X probably explains the distinct lack of humorous song titles. No more Smacks of Euphoric Hysteria or Noddy Goes to Sweden.

Masques was arguably their most accomplished album up to that point, an album of varying textures, and yet great coherence, the highlight being Percy Jones’ melodic, squirting fretless bass that acts both as a lead instrument while also fleshing out Goodsall’s guitar and J. Peter Robinson (accompanied by Morris Pert who, as a multi-instrumentalist himself, has been promoted to keyboards, after his previous role, which according to the liner notes of Moroccan Roll was: “percussion and a vast number of bits and things that he hit while the tape was running, including: The QE2, Idi Amin, and undiscovered parts of Scotland”). The first song, The Poke, is a simpler track, predominantly in 4/4 time, Rock plus Rhodes, if you like, and also a showcase of Chuck Burgi’s tight, precise drumming, but the stand-out tracks for me are Black Moon and Deadly Nightshade, the former a move towards the smoother side, while Deadly Nightshade is simply one of the best songs in the band’s catalogue, 11 minutes and 22 seconds of brilliant keyboards, crazy riffs and run-downs and tight musicianship, things that sum up what Brand X were all about.

Best Track: Deadly Nightshade

Goof: Earth Dance sounds like a Mahavishnu Orchestra Song. It should have been called something like, “Slaps of Blissful Hilarity”, à la Unorthodox Behaviour

7 Black Moons out of 10

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