Percy Jones – Cape Catastrophe (CD)
Brand X was one of those bands who were beloved by other musicians and the more discerning of critics, but that despite everything never had the commercial success that it deserved.
They were a jazz fusion band active 1975–1980. Noted members included Phil Collins (drums), Percy Jones (bass), John Goodsall (guitar) and Robin Lumley (keyboards). Not long after jazz/rock fusion greats Brand X put out their 1980 album, Do They Hurt?, the band members went their separate ways (until their comeback in 1992 which only featured Goodsall and Jones).
Dave Lynch writes: 'Fusion bassists, including the utterly unique and underpraised Percy Jones, have always laboured in the shadow of Weather Report's Jaco Pastorius. Of all the musicians who strapped on fretless electric basses during the '70s through to today, Jones certainly deserves attention beyond the seemingly inevitable Pastorius comparisons.'
Jones’ utterly idiosyncratic bass playing defined the sound of Brand X as much as Phil Collins’s drumming. The band would not have been anywhere near as interesting without him. He also appeared on classic Brian Eno LPs as Another Green World and Before and After Science.
Dave Lynch continues: 'After his years in the heyday of British fusion and art rock, Jones moved to New York City and began occasionally showing up as a performer on the so-called downtown scene, as logical a place for him to attempt a fresh start as any. He recorded Cape Catastrophe in 1988 and 1989 at a studio in East Harlem. Using an array of the era's available hardware (including, as the product-placing liners indicate, a Casio synthesizer, Roland sequencer, Yamaha drum machine, and Korg digital delay), Jones laid down tracks ranging from two-and-a-half minutes to over 23 minutes in length, and then accompanied the tracks live on his five-string (Wal V, for those interested in brands) bass as the direct-to-digital recording was made. The results were generally quite impressive, and stand the test of time well over a decade later.'
'There is certainly a lot here for electric bass-aholics to enjoy; Jones's burbles, pops and plonks are all here, and his tone on the sustained notes is rich with harmonic overtones as expected. But the music through which the bass slips and slides is often more like twisted instrumental techno-funk than fusion, along with ominous electronic textures that sometimes sound like an ethereal choir or gruff, agitated shouts distorted beyond recognition. Sometimes the rhythms are steady enough that dancing wouldn't be out of the question (on Hex, for example), but most of the time Jones's drum machine is used to syncopate even the conventional four- or eight-beat measures in jarring and unexpected ways, which would probably send today's dance-oriented audiences into conniption fits.'
Jones composed everything on the album himself, except for the closing number, which – of all things – surprisingly turns out to be an arrangement of Thomas Arne's Symphony in F major, tinged with a bit of the feeling of Krautrock experimentation.
‘The album is a peculiar though satisfying mix of jazz fusion and electronica, and is another one of those classic albums that slipped through the cracks at the time, which is just unfair. Great tunes, great compositions, great musicianship. What’s not to like?’ – Jon Downes
- The Lie
- Cape Catastrophe
- Thin Line
- Symphony In F Major
Artist: Percy Jones
Cat. No.: HST183CD