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) and 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, anyway, 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
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 and 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.