PB 6016 Is There Anything About?
Produced by Robin Lumley and Steven Short
Released on September 1982
UK CHART POSITION #93
Find it at GEMM
PB 6016 cover  

L ooking back over some of the earlier Brand X reviews, they’re terribly dull. Hardly a fitting tribute to a band with a sense of humor, so I’ll try to have a little fun with this one, especially since the limp arrangements on Is There Anything About? invite an idle mind to wander. Usually it’s a simple matter to write humor, but the cat has me contemplating dark designs this morning. My next pet is going to be something small and ephemeral like a gerbil or a guinea pig. They’re like pet temps really, a means to gauge if the position needs to be filled full time. Rodents are also death primers; the wading pool of the great grieving where children first learn about death and loss and the importance of keeping shoe boxes. (Darn that cat, I’ve veered far off Funny Lane.) Guinea pigs and gerbils are the 98-ounce weaklings of the rodent family. They live in a cage most of the time, and the minute they get out into the real world it’s curtains. It’s like some primal death instinct, waiting for the perfect moment to escape and cash out of their little lives. A neighbor once released their gerbil into the woods after it bit them. Not the most ingenious escape plan for a gerbil, but their options are kind of limited. Oh, they probably start out with grand designs, thinking “If I could just get a rubber band and a D cell battery and some copper wiring” and by week two the lack of adequate exercise and intellectual stimulation has narrowed the plan to “Eh, I’ll just bite ‘em.” So the gerbil was released into the woods to seek his fortune in a Disneyesque tale that promised adventure, self-discovery, maybe even a little romance. At least for those first few minutes before it was eaten by a cat or a hawk or forced to work as an acorn accountant in the hollow of a tree by opportunistic squirrels. I imagine that first exchange with another animal was sort of awkward. “Where can you find the food dish that’s always full? At the end of a rope, my friend.” And like an old watch, or the career of Brand X, the gerbil simply wound down and stopped. But if you’d like, we’ll give them both a better ending. We’ll say the gerbil found an abandoned mouse home and quickly adapted to his new surroundings. He became a night creature, scurrying through the grass and scampering into the kitchens of nearby houses to steal morsels for his family (yes, he had found romance and married a mole, for love is indeed blind). And he lives to this day, because he has the will to live, with grandchildren and great-grandchildren and even great-great-great grandchildren spellbound at his worn furry knees to hear his tales of adventure: from the time he rode a sharp-shinned hawk using nothing but a plastic six-pack string to the night he crawled into the not-quite empty Schnapps bottle and performed a tomato can solo with a band of equally intoxicated cats. As for Brand X, the band dispersed to its atomic elements only to re-form a decade later and tickle the faithful yet again. But I haven’t answered your question. Is there any reason to purchase Is There Anything About? Yes, if you want to own it just to own it (completists who can’t abide an unscratchable itch). Despite the circa seventy-nine lineup, this isn’t a return to Product’s eclectic mixture of pop and fusion, though “Soho” does cast its shadow on the instrumental “Noisy, Modern And Effective.” It’s otherwise a mild record, a somewhat disinterested winding down that includes an unscripted demo (“TMIU-ATGA”) and smooth jazz where streaks of defiant oddball strangeness once ran.

PB 6016 back cover
PB 6016 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. IPANAEMIA    (John Goodsall)    4:30
  2. A LONGER APRIL    (John Giblin)    7:00
  3. MODERN, NOISY AND EFFECTIVE    (John Goodsall/Robin Lumley/Steven Short)    3:56
  4. SWAN SONG    (Philip Collins/Robin Lumley/John Giblin/Steven Short)    5:30
  5. IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT?    (Percy Jones/John Goodsall/Robin Lumley/Philip Collins)    7:52
  6. TMIU-ATGA    (John Giblin/Peter Robinson/Robin Lumley)    5:07

CREDITS

PHILIP COLLINS -- drums and concussion
JOHN GIBLIN -- bass, Whitbread, a vocal
JOHN GOODSALL -- guitar
ROBIN LUMLEY -- keyboards and vocal, remix engineering
Ed Carson -- handclaps (3)
Percy Jones -- bass (5)
Raf Ravenscroft -- saxophone (2)
Peter Robinson -- keyboards (6)
Steven Short -- syndrum and vocal (4), engineer, remix engineering
Colin Green -- engineer
Neil Kernon -- engineer
Craig Milliner -- engineer
Bill Smith -- sleeve
Andrew Douglas -- photography

return to BRAND X discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK September 1982 CBS LP/CS 85967/4085967  
US September 1982 Passport LP/CS PB/PAS 6016  
NET 1982 Vertigo LP 6302 212  

 

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