Brand X
United Kingdom
Music group
The circumstances surrounding the genesis of Brand X are lost in the mists of time. Suffice to say that, some time in 1975, its various members ran into one another in a recording studio and made an album so obscure no-one seems to have a copy of it: 'The Eddie Howell Gramophone Record' (later released as the 'Man from Manhattan'). The musicians on this recording were:

Robin Lumley - keyboards
John Goodsall - guitars
Percy Jones - bass
Phil Collins - drums amd
Jack Lancaster - various wind instruments

Of course, in the same year, Collins and Jones had worked together on the Brian Eno album 'Another Green World' which may have had something to do with it. But connections were being made through the spring and summer of 1975 which resulted in the band (now minus Lancaster) performing two gigs in December 1975 along with various recording sessions. This then translated into another, rather more official, recording released in July 1976: 'Unorthodox Behaviour'; released on Genesis's then label, Charisma. More scattered gigs ensued as Phil attempted to fit them into to his usually hectic Genesis schedule (i.e. between the Trick of the Tail tour and recording Wind & Wuthering).

The fruits of some more snatched recording sessions in December 76 and January 77 were released in April 1977 when 'Moroccan Roll' was issued, again on Charisma. Now though, Phil had to give pride of place to Genesis recording and touring and other drummers slipped onto the drum stool. However, in November 77 a live album, 'Livestock', was released which featured Phil on three of the five tracks (recorded at Ronnie Scott's in September 76, Hammersmith Odeon on 12th November 1976 and the Marquee Club in April 77).

In September 1978, the album 'Masques' was released, sans Collins, and an autumn tour took place.

In the Spring of 1979, Phil rejoined for the making of 'Product', recorded at Ringo Starr's Startling Studios in Ascot, Berkshire (previously John Lennon's house, Tittenhurst Park, where the film for the 'Imagine' single was made). Apart from the end result, these sessions were signifcant for Phil as they involved two 'firsts':

his first use of a drum machine
his first use of his home 8-track to record demos then used in a studio
The album's release in May 1979 was followed by a brief tour on which Phil played, which took in two dates in the UK and a quick thrash round the more sophisticated music cities of the USA.

From then on, the history of Brand X drifts away with a series of albums culled from earlier sessions involving Phil (i.e. 1980 - 'Do They Hurt?' [Product sessions]; 1982 - 'Is There Anything About?' [various earlier sessions]), compilations (1986 - Xtrax, 1992 - The Plot Thins, etc.) and a live album (1996 - Live at the Roxy).

In 1997, a reunion tour took in the UK, Italy and Germany in a hectic few weeks in May and June (between the two halves of the 'Dance into the Light' World Tour). At the same time two more albums emerged from dust covered Brand X archives: 'The X-Files' and 'Brand X: A History 1976-80'. They are clearly being bred in captivity somewhere.

In its disjointed early days, Brand X gave Phil an outlet for his interests in jazz-fusion music which had been triggered by his love for bands such as Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
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