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Jade Warrior - Last Autumn's Dream CD (album) cover


Jade Warrior


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.68 | 124 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Jade Warrior was one of those names I stumbled across while leafing through the annals of progressive rock. As I understand, they married far eastern musical sounds with western rock, and their first album solidly established what they were about. The second album did not come off so well, but their third album, "Last Autumn's Dream" managed to come close to their debut, possibly surpassing it depending on whom you ask. This I gathered from the Wiki article and some of the reviews here.

Taking a chance, I ordered the third album without much prior inspection of the music. "A Winter's Tale" sounds quite typical of the day with lots of la-la-las and an English view of a warm fire in the fireplace. There is a kind of Japanese feel to some of the guitar which doesn't sound forced or intrusive. Interesting that they chose to start the album with a laid back song that is one of only three to clear five minutes.

Beginning with a wild guitar solo, "Snake" sounds more exciting with its heavy fuzz-toned, sidewinder bass line. I can picture a viper swishing its coils left and right across the sand. The heavy sound makes Jade Warrior sound closer to proto-metal at times. The music switches style and atmosphere near the end, and there's an eerie flute contribution, but this interesting turn in the music serves only as an outro. Too bad they didn't develop it further. In a way it reminds me a little of "Famine" on the Opeth album "Heritage" except that the Opeth song is one of my favourite Opeth songs and this one here is just kind of interesting. Needs more work.

"Dark River" is where the far eastern influence really starts to show with a flute solo that conjures up images of ninja running stealthily along a river bank at night. The entrancing drumming reminds me of Ron Bushy's solo on Iron Butterfly's "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida". A plunky guitar takes over while the suspenseful flute continues, and then once more the guitar and drums trade places. This certainly is an atmosphere-establishing piece that seems to marry a Japanese ninja movie soundtrack with an Iron Butterfly-influenced tribal drumming rhythm.

"Joanne" seems to be a typical rock number that might have emerged from the southern States somewhere. "Joanne, we're gonna get loaded / Joanne, know what I mean." I can't say the lyrics are particularly good. I might be thrilled about the wild heavy psych guitar solo if this was 1969 but as it is there's not much to praise except that it might be the best part of the song.

"Obedience" has my attention with some traditional Japanese percussion backing more fuzz-toned guitar. This sounds like another piece of music that could have been part of something bigger and grander. A jangling, chiming guitar sound joins along with some warm background instrumentation. And then all fades out. Why didn't they take this further and turn into some wonderful instrumental epic?

The Japanese-sounding guitar plucks over an gentle guitar while flute plays soft notes for "Morning Hymn". This is a gentle number for the awakening sleepy head and the glow of sunbeams across flower blossoms. Not particularly exciting but this is where the band sound like they are on to something different from their peers.

There's more traditional-sounding Japanese percussion and some almost down-home groovy guitar before one guitar introduces a Byrds-like riff. The music then goes back to a laid back groove as the vocals tell us about the "May Queen". The flute creeps in like ripples around a stone. Then we get more of the psychedelic guitar. This is a song that you might find either rather interesting or, if you don't like the scratchy guitar, a bit of a sore spot. They get points for the honest effort at blending styles. Perhaps if they'd kept this up they might have really nailed it on a fourth or fifth album of this line-up.

And the we get a drum intro that sounds like it inspired Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" while Mungo Jerry's cousin comes in with a typical seventies banana-munching beat. I can just see the big furry sideburns. "Demon Trucker"? With this one and "Joanne" it's hard to tell if these guys were really all that serious about being progressive. Perhaps they still wanted the rock crowd-pleasing tunes to offset the mellow, eastern-flavoured tunes.

"Lady of the Lake" and "Borne to the Solar Wind" take us out with those Japanese-inspired musical stylings. These slower parts with gentle electric guitar, traditional percussion, and flute are for me the most enjoyable parts of the album. I don't know why they split the music into two tracks because "Borne to the Solar Wind" is essentially an instrumental continuation of the music of "Lady of the Lake".

Each time I listen to this album I feel like this is either a band in transition or a band who was trying to cross psychedelic music with eastern-inspired mellow electric rock but still hadn't found the exact formula. For the most part I think the tracks have a lot of good aspects but I am left with the feeling that more effort should have been made toward creating something really memorable. Jade Warrior are too timid about utilizing their uniqueness to its full potential. I am curious now if I shouldn't look at their later albums when Jade Warrior was writing world music or their debut which might have better captured their initial intent. Based on the reviews, it would appear that the band went more for the world music feel that they did quite well here on "Last Autumn's Dream" and dropped the psychedelic space rock sound. They really could have pulled it off nicely, marrying the two styles, with a bit more adventurousness.

I hesitate to call it "good but not essential" but it's better than "Collectors/fans" only. Perhaps a 2.5 star rating of "it has potential" would be more accurate. So, rounded up to three stars then.

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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