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Dragon - Dragon CD (album) cover

DRAGON

Dragon

 

Heavy Prog

3.22 | 24 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars A rough around the edges but utterly charming heavy-prog album from 1976, `Dragon's self titled album from 1977 sounds like it should have come out in the very early 70's instead. Full of organ, ragged bluesy guitar playing, wild singing, vague spacey elements and some slight experimental touches, the music has a strangely unhinged and energetic sound to it that's very addictive. Even though the album jumps back and forth between ludicrously dark passages and upbeat positive themes, you can't help but smile.

One thing that stands out about the album is the impossibly amateur vocals from the band members, they simply have to be heard to be believed! Yet despite the shrill wailing and reckless singing, there's still something quite charming and na´ve about them, that helps give the players a real genuine conviction about their music.

Opener `Insects' begins with similar organ to the first Beggars Opera album (but less circus- sounding, so that can only be a good thing!), then forms into a spacey and mystical instrumental along the lines of Pink Floyd and Novalis, with drifting Hammond and a winding fuzzy electric guitar melody that weaves it's way through the cosmic swirling effects. Lovely piano right near the end, too.

`Lucifer' is a real wild ride! After a very laid-back intro with sounds of birds and the ocean, tasteful bluesy guitar with plodding bass and almost comical shrieking vocals launch in, with wailing electric guitar solos all around. There's some amusing lyrics about El Diablo, the singer conveying the theme with manic glee! The second half is an ambient and spacey instrumental stretch with a thick cloud of Eloy-like synths and flute, before dreadful group harmonies float in. It's not that the actual vocal melody/arrangement is bad, just the way it's sung! Still, a great track with lots of energy and movement.

`Leave Me With Tears' has dark but stirring lyrics, with lovely weeping Mellotron and an expressive guitar solo backed with grand piano in the finale. It's a surprisingly reflective and emotional piece.

"The girl with her hair in the wind, the girl with the key of time, ain't gonna wait forever!" - I've got no idea what the heck it means, but try getting that catchy chorus out of your head! "Gone In The Wind" is a brisk uptempo rocker with killer lead guitar work and a hugely catchy melody. Very poppy, and full of lovely Mellotron bursts in the chorus. So impossibly upbeat and full of life!

`In The Blue' begins with dark electronic effects, a dreamy Pink Floyd-like atmosphere with echoing guitar, shimmering keys and even off-key horns creating a very gentle low-key ambience. There's such a great sense of space and build in this piece. Then it suddenly bursts into the main uptempo song section with positive lyrics and cute group harmonies before an extended Santana-like guitar solo and keyboard run to the end. Lots of long psychedelic moments in this one.

`Crystal Ball' is almost like a continuation of the previous track, sharing a slower but very similar vocal melody, However, it's slightly more chaotic and unnerving, with sections of ranting tormented vocals, dirty organ/guitar stabs and thick spacey synths. Voices scream as vile oppressive Mellotron walls and chugging guitar riffs surround the listener. It ends the album in a gloomy and foreboding manner.

Since acquiring the vinyl reissue by Golden Pavillion, I've come to really love the LP, playing it very regularly. Although there's many moments throughout the album that are quite unprofessional and amateur, there's just as many inventive and interesting musical ideas that really impress. I find the uneasy contrast of dark occult-tinged moments with uplifting joyful elements quite fascinating, and the album is extremely easy to give repeated plays. Dragon showed a lot of potential, so it's a shame we didn't really hear anything more of the band. They were a more than worthy and exciting progressive rock band that could have gone on to even better albums.

I'm going along with my fellow Archives buddy Tom Ozric on this one and giving it four stars.

Besides, any album that interprets Lucifer's voice as sounding like Donald Duck has got to be on to something very original, right?!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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