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A few weeks ago, when I made the Case for Phil Collins, I mentioned Brand X, the jazz fusion group that he played with as one of his many side projects from Genesis. Before this theme ended, I figured it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to do a quick post about them. Really quick.
Brand X was formed back in 1975, and featured a number of musicians who were either top-notch studio musicians or sidemen. By the time of their first album, the band featured Collins on drums, John Goodsall on guitar, Robin Lumley on keyboards and Percy Jones on bass. Over time, as the musicians’ schedules became more complicated, a number of different musicians passed through the band, with Goodsall and Jones the most consistent members. The band played fusion music, and if you dismiss the genre as dull, I challenge you to check them out—the quality of the musicianship is superb, and the songwriting is often unusual and occasionally inspired (if not always, I guess).
In the original post about Collins, I embedded a video of Brand X, and here’s another live track, although without the live video:
And, for a hoot, check out the interview above, from 1979, featuring Collins and Goodsall, which appears to have been recorded in Wayne and Garth’s basement. The second part of the interview is here:
Saturday, June 7, 2014
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Friday, June 6, 2014
What you and I might call a side project may not be such a “side” for the musician himself: you could argue that Ry Cooder has been building towards his Cuban work all his life. You could argue that most everything he does is a “side project”.
Ry's work – more than being a collection of side projects – appears to have a focus: I’d say it is to turn us on to the best of many different musics; be it the forgotten American 30s, be it the best of modern Africa or Cuba or …
Although Ry’s main focus over the years has its roots in America (Blind Willie Johnson, Woody Guthrie and more).
Yet another “side project” , if you prefer, features his efforts to share with us some of the best of Cuba through his work with the “Moula Banda Aces”, or his sojourn to African music with Ali Farka Toure,or from India with V.M. Bhatt of India, and many more beyond the Cuban style I feature here:
Buena Vista Social Club
When Cooder writes and performs his own work, he tends to criticism, often in support of “the working class”. Arguably, much of his output leans in this direction (How can a Poor Man Stand Such Times, Alimony, and even Fool for a Cigarette in that “the rich don’t smoke”)
I don’t have an inside line to the man’s mind, but I guess it’s true that nothing is “side” to him. Besides, Ry has worked with a number of folks on a regular basis. Again and again, Ry appears with Bobby King, Terry Evans and friends doing supporting vocal backups - hardly a side project. And well he does; their versatile 3-part harmony (and stage show) suit him and his musical choices well. Likewise his repeated collaboration with Flaco Jimenez on the accordion.
Here's yet another, where he is doing some "side work" with Mick Jagger (Memo from Turner). His guitar work absolutely drives the whole song.
THE TWILIGHT SINGERS: TEENAGE WRISTBAND (LIVE)
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You say you wanna go thereRide thenI did and I loved it
The shivery ache in Dulli's voice coupled with his lascivious, almost pornographic delivery of the lyrics make a sixteen hour ride with an addict seem like a tantalizing offer.You wanna go for a ride?I got sixteen hours to burnAnd I’m gonna stay up all night
Every bit of the band—the name, the lyrics, the song titles, the album titles, the artwork, the vocal style(s)—is a parody of the epic legacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The joke is largely the creation of the fellow bicep-obsessed As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis, who, incidentally, recently pled guilty to hiring a hitman to murder his wife (the assassin he hired was, in fact, an undercover police officer).
Is an over-the-top joke about an over-the-top action hero famous for his on-screen body count told by a death-worshipping would-be wife killer funny? Humor is subjective. Lots of people never laughed in the first place. But if you’ve ever laughed at an Arnold quote, there’s a good chance you’d get a few chuckles out of any of Austrian Death Machine's three albums.