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GONZO WEEKLY #144: Jon meets Percy Jones

"Go interview Percy Jones" said the Gonzo Grande Fromage, one evening after I had consumed a half bottle of vodka and was just about to go to bed, "We have some more Brand X stuff coming out, and he is always an interesting dude to talk to". No arguments there. I interviewed him about eighteen months ago, and had a great time.

For those of you not in the know. Percy Jones (born 3 December 1947, near Llandrindod Wells, Wales) is a Welsh bass guitarist, and was a member of jazz fusion band Brand X, from 1974 to 1980, and a reformed version which lasted from 1992 to 1999. Brand X was another one of those bands who were beloved of other musicians and the more discerning of critics but which despite everything, never had the commercial success that it deserved.

They were a jazz fusion band active 1975–1980. Brand X started in 1975 as a 'jam' band signed by Island Records' Richard Williams. Williams A&R man Danny Wilding wrote down the name 'Brand X' to keep track of their activity on the studio calendar and the name stuck.

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. Goodsall and Jones formed a trio version of Brand X with drummer Frank Katz in 1992. To make up for the lack of a keyboard player, Goodsall used a Gibson Max MIDI-guitar system to trigger synths, samples and keyboard sounds along with his guitars. This line-up went on to record Xcommunication (1992) and Manifest Destiny (1997), and tour Japan and Europe in 1997 with keyboard player Kris Sjobring and ex-Gong drummer Pierre Moerlen replacing Katz.

The latest release by Brand X on Gonzo is a live album from Ronnie Scotts in 1976. Sometimes the title of a record is self-explanatory and – to use the current vernacular – does just what it says on the tin. Here we have the legendary jazz fusion band at the legendary London club, when both were at their commercial zenith.  The band played like demons, and the result is extraordinary. Nearly forty years on the sounds are still absolutely mindblowing.

Residing in New York, Jones is, according to Wikipedia, currently a member of jazz fusion band, Tunnels, along with drummer Walker Adams. He is best known for his unique bass sound, and his trademark use of the fretless Wal bass. In a long and eclectic career, Jones was also a member of the jazz fusion group Soft Machine, the poetry rock group The Liverpool Scene (featuring poet Adrian Henri), and has contributed to recordings by David Sylvian, Brian Eno, Steve Hackett, Paranoise, Suzanne Vega, Richard Barbieri and Fovea Hex, amongst others. He released a solo album, Cape Catastrophe in 1990.

Talking to Percy is always a joy, and we nattered for ages, as you can hear....


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