Brand X: Moroccan Roll (1977)

An Eastern shift where John Goodsall plays the sitar and the band’s sere and sinewy sound is interrupted by islands of calm collapsar and furious virgens. Moroccan Roll is more agitated than Soft Machine at this stage, less than Bruford, left of Weather Report. Twice it settles into smokeclouds that would’ve made Mike Ratledge smile: “Disco Suicide” and “Malaga Virgen.” Phil (why aren’t I working on a solo album?) Collins sings on this one, sort of. No words, but “Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All” could be seen as a harbinger of “Droned.” I’m rating this one right up with Unorthodox Behaviour now because the band meshes so well together. Jones’ fretless bass is still the most spicy element, Morris Pert’s (welcome aboard) percussion the most exotic. (His touches to “Malaga Virgen” make her what she is.) Compositionally, Goodsall’s three tracks are the strongest. The space funk fusion of “Hate Zone” is a highlight; “Macrocosm” and especially “Sun in the Night” carry the Eastern vibe from end to end. Moroccan Roll is the driest of the early studio albums, but if you own Unorthodox Behaviour and Masques (and why wouldn’t you?), this is moradasame. A true desert of the senses, noting that to the trained eye there are lots of things to see in the desert. Since that doesn’t exactly describe this album, I’ll add “bruford in baghdad” and be done with it.

Original LP Version
A1. Sun In The Night (John Goodsall) (4:23)
A2. Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You’ve Broken Yours Off Already) (Phil Collins) (11:19)
A3. …Maybe I’ll Lend You Mine After All (Phil Collins) (2:09)
A4. Hate Zone (John Goodsall) (4:41)
A5. Collapsar (Robin Lumley) (1:34)
B1. Disco Suicide (Robin Lumley) (7:55)
B2. Orbits (Percy Jones) (1:35)
B3. Malaga Virgen (Percy Jones) (8:27)
B4. Macrocosm (John Goodsall) (7:23)

The Players
This is straight from the album’s back cover credits: Phil Collins (drums, lead vocals, acoustic piano, frequency eater), John Goodsall (Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, acoustic guitar, Zone boxes, space echo, sitar, backing vocals, voltage-controlled aluminum bidet), Percy Jones Fender bass, Amos effects boxes, autoharp, marimba), Robin Lumley (Fender Rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano, autoharp, mini-moog synthesiser, ARP Odyssey synthesiser, Roland string synthesiser, backing vocals, clavinet, Pulsar processor, space echo) and Morris Pert (percussion and a vast number of bits and things that he hit while the tape was running, including: the Q.E. 2, Idi Amin, and undiscovered parts of Scotland). The album was again produced by Dennis MacKay in association with Brand X, and engineered by Perdurabo Stephen W. Tayler. (“Perdurabo” is Latin for “I endure.”)

The Plastic
Originally released on April 1977 on elpee in the UK (Charisma, CAS 1126), in the US (Passport, PP 98022), in Canada (Charisma, 9211-1126), in France (Charisma, 9103 117), and in Germany and the Netherlands (Charisma, 9124 010). Re-released in 1983 on extended cassette with Unorthodox Behaviour in the UK (Charisma, 109). Re-released in 1986 on elpee in the UK (Charisma, CHC-45) and on elpee and cassette in the US (Passport, PB/PBC-9822). Re-released in 1989 on CD in the US (Caroline, 1392), in Europe (Virgin, 787118) and in Japan (Virgin, VJCP-68783). Cover photography by Hipgnosis, sleeve design by Hipgnosis and George Hardie. Group photography on the back cover by Rob Brimson.

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