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DRAGON

Dragon

Heavy Prog


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Dragon Dragon album cover
3.23 | 25 ratings | 9 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Introduction (Insects)
2. Lucifer
3. Leave Me With Tears
4. Gone In The Wind
5. In The Blue
6. Crystal Ball

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Bernard Callaert / guitar, backing vocals
- Christian Duponcheel / keyboards, synthesizers, Mellotron, strings
- Jean-Pierre Houx / bass, piano, synthesizers, trombone, backing vocals
- Georges Venaise / drums, vibes, flutes
- Jean Venaise / lead vocals, lead guitar, strings

Releases information

Cd. Musea Records FGBG 4010.AR (1989)

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DRAGON Dragon ratings distribution


3.23
(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
8%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
36%
Good, but non-essential (52%)
52%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

DRAGON Dragon reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Good for a Belgian band that would've deserved the success that the horrible Machiavel achieved. This sounds neo-prog before its time, and although not well recorded , this should please neo fans. In the same league as Pulsar or Isopoda. Not really essential, this group made a pleasant symphonic prog (a little amateurish, though) not unlike BJH, Camel, Fruup and future Belgian Nessie.

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Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I had heard this band's album "Kalahen", and it pleased me that much that I bought myself a CD copy of this album too. The self-made looking fantasy themed covers introduces the listener to a rollercoaster ride of different musical styles, and the result should please the fans of obscure European rock music. There are some elements here too which sounded a bit annoying, like the intro which sounds like an old computer game music. But there's lots of funky rock grooves to be found here, accompanied with psychedelic sound walls, vintage instruments and brass horns, bluesy jazz guitar parts and lousy singing. The best track in my opinion is "Gone in The Wind", though it's also maybe the most accessible of these songs. For vinyl hunters this is a good target for collecting, and as a casual purchase one could also spend their money to much worse CDs than this.

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Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Dragon’s debut album is another lost progressive gem that is awash with Mellotron and calls to mind the earliest of King Crimson.

Na just kidding, but I always wanted to say that in an album review. There is a bit of Mellotron though, but not an ‘awash’ level of it. And even though they do qualify as progressive, they don’t sound a bit like King Crimson. Or Yes. Or Genesis. Anyway…

Truth is I don’t know much about these guys and don’t know anyone else who does either. This is a pretty amateurish album from the artwork to the cheesy synthesizers to the gauche and sometimes just plain silly lyrics. But despite that don’t get the impression it has no redeeming value whatsoever, because it does. Just not much.

This is a Belgian band, that much is for sure. And apparently the keyboardist Christian Duponcheel went on to become some sort of well-known collector and expert on African art, especially masks. So if you're one of those people who has an African fertility or worship mask of some sort on your den wall, there’s a good chance the guy who plays the ‘tron on this album knows more about that mask than you do. For whatever that’s worth.

The music here is kind of hard to describe, although any description must include the word “amateurish”. I don’t mean that it is bad, just quite immature stylistically and full of abrupt and unexpected tempo shifts, weird noises, and vocal rants at really inopportune times. And the keyboards really aren’t all that great.

Parts of the album fit the very early seventies symphonic prog mold ala Spring or Polyphony or Apollo or any of those other b-grade bands who made okay music but on off-labels with poor production and uneven focus. Other parts sound like they were inspired by Captain Beefheart (and maybe they were). These are the ones where the keyboards are flowing along and the guitars are putting down a soothing and almost jazz riff, and then all of a sudden one of the singers starts in and sounds like he’s just a bit crazed which sort of ruins the whole thing. On “Lucifer” I think the guy actually starts quacking.

But there’s a fair amount of decent guitar, including on that track, and on “Gone in the Wind” which sounds all the world like a 1968 or ’69 proto-prog kind of thing like the first two Moody Blues albums. But then the eight-minute plus “In the Blue” comes along and delivers an almost psych piece with long, languid keyboard (organ mostly) instrumental sections and a tasty pysch guitar bit at the end. Both are okay tunes, but the mood shift is startling and makes for an awkward aural adjustment. Same goes for “Crystal Ball” but this time the sound is closer to early hard rock ala Captain Beyond or the Falcons or something. The guitar on that one is purely blues-influenced.

So in all this thing comes off sounding more like a sampler or a series of demo tracks recorded over a few years with different lineups, which it might be but who knows for sure. This was apparently a rare find for many years but Musea reissued it on CD a while back and it is easy to find today. Just not completely sure you’ll want to.

A strange offering, mostly due to the lack of any definitive style for the band, and because with a 1976 release this thing sounded dated as soon as it was put on the shelves. Who knows, with a little bit of management and luck this album might have taken off if it had been released in 1969, but by the mid seventies it didn’t have a chance. I’ll give it two stars but pick it up anyway if you run across it since Musea doesn’t appear to still stock it so it will become hard-to-find again some day and if nothing else it makes for a nice conversation piece. The amateurish hand-sketched cover and sleeve art will make people wonder where you got it.

peace

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Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars DRAGON are a Heavy-Prog/Psychedelic band from Belgium, featuring keyboardist Christian Duponcheel, one time a holder of the keys in another fine Belgian band by the name of LAGGER BLUES MACHINE. This debut release of theirs was recorded in the U.K. during November 1976, and really picks up the banner that PINK FLOYD left off way back in 1971. Full of early 70's vibes and sounds, sometimes amateurish vocals, these guys were probably too stoned to realise that it was almost 1977 by the time they entered the studio - and that's not a criticism, it adds to the charm of this wonderful record, recently re-issued in coloured vinyl on the 'Golden Pavillion' label. 'Introduction - Insects' is an instrumental with a heavy rhythm and dramatic riff. I'm always reminded of the Floyd and early Eloy, thanks to the organ, synth and guitar. 'Lucifer' is the longest track at over 9 min, starts with seaside sounds of rippling water and gulls crying (hardly sinister, wouldn't you say ??) . Softly strummed guitar and almost jazzy interplay between the instruments with a nice 'walking' bass-line at mid-tempo soon picks up to the verse section, with pretty stoned vocals from Bernard Tallaert, who also plays guitar. The following section kicks off with a slow moody part full of swirling string-synth (by lead guitarist Jean Vanaise) and flute (by drummer Georges Vanaise). It's rather spacey now with some melodious aah-aah chanting (ala Floyd) and hand percussion. Finishing off with the return of the heavier verse section, quite an adventurous piece of music over its duration. Side 1 closes with a ballad-like song 'Leave Me With Tears' heavy with acoustic guitar, pleasant and inoffensive. 'Gone in The Wind' is an up-tempo pop-song with a great chorus and some mellotron. The pick of the bunch for this listener is the 8 min + 'In The Blue' - it features some experimental sounds from guitar and what I think is the credited Clavioline (some very primitive synthesiser, I think). The Bassist Jean-Pierre Houx adds some Trombone to the heady atmosphere, and after some minutes builds into the vocal section with an amazing melody. The harmony vocals are very well done. Here the rhythm guitaring is killer and the Hammond that solos around is ripped straight out of 1967. Phenomenal track. 'Crystal Ball, is another goodie which finishes the album off perfectly, and is structured in a similar way to KHAN's 'Hollow Stone' (which is the final track off that album). I'm a sucker for these vintage sounding albums so I give Dragon S/T a 4 star rating.

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Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Originally named Burning Light, this Belgian group from Ath was formed in 1970 by brothers Georges and Jean Vanaise, having two lead vocalists.Shortly after Jean would handle the vocals and the stable line-up would be completed with Bernard Callaert on guitars and multi- instrumentalist Jean-Pierre Houx.Several appearances at festivals would follow, the band even used masks, make-ups and smoke machines, offering great shows.In 1976 they were joined by ex-Lagger Blues Machine Christian Duponcheel on keyboards/sax and they recorded their self-titled LP at Acorn studios.It was a private press of 1500 copies, distributed mostly by the band and Gamma Records.

The album opens with the light symphonic intro ''Intoduction'' with synths, organ, piano and smooth guitar interplays to be followed by ''Lucifer''.This one is a fine piece of jazzy Heavy Prog with somewhat dull melodramatic vocals and strong guitars, switching into a Space Rock opus after the middle with trippy vocals, good flute work, psychedelic guitars and supporting synths.''Leave me with tears'' is a bit dated, sort of Heavy/Psych Prog with both acoustic and electric guitars, polyphonic vocals but also some interesting solos throughout.''Gone in the wind'' comes like a cross between BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and URIAH HEEP, Heavy Blues Rock with piano and mellotron on the forefront but annoying vocals.The groove is quite catchy though.''In the Blue'' kicks off with boring Electronic/Psych soundscapes before some jazzy guitars, vibraphones and synths add a spacey atmosphere, later to become a nice organ- driven CAMEL-esque cut with lovely vocal arrangements until the end.''Crystal ball'' features again annoying theatrical vocal performances, but the great passages of organ, guitars ans synthesizers make this track a winner, the atmosphere is really haunting and this one is propably the best number included in the album.

An album with huge interest for most of its part, but unfortunately almost every track has a little black hole, being either the vocals or the lack of some great inspiration.Dragon's debut has seen a couple of CD and LP reissues and it is really easy to find today.Easily recommended to fans of 70's Heavy/Psych/Symph Prog in the vein of URIAH HEEP, ATOMIC ROOSTER and even CAMEL.

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Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An inventive Belgian outfit who released two English-language albums during the late-seventies, Dragon are the kind of group for whom the word 'obscure' was invented. Issued in 1976, this self-titled debut blends a hard- edged dynamic, washes of jazzy mellotron and some awkward moments of surreal humour to intriguing effect, falling somewhere between the brash excess of Deep Purple and the arty ambitions of King Crimson, just with that slightly odd European signature that colours so much of the continents progressive output. Album highlights include the opener track 'Introduction', which sports a slightly mystical atmosphere, and the oddly- timed riffs of the remarkably mellow eight-minute mini-epic 'In The Blue', an expansive piece seemingly at odds with the bulk of the album's rockier flavour.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Review by 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 naïve 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?!

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Latest members reviews

3 stars ***1/2 in fact. Nice album from this Belgium band. The style has symphonic, psycho and hard with mellotron and effects melted; according to cd liner notes : "...the group had a predilection for music such as Pink Floyd, Golden Earring or Iron Butterfly, but determinated to create their own personal ... (read more)

Report this review (#218091) | Posted by Prog_Veteran | Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dragon appeared to me in the form of a tape I made of it 3 years ago. I thought it was very strange music especially for the late date it was recorded (late 1976). I was impressed, and spent a lot of money on a copy in Montreal. Dragon are much more consistent and interesting than the most exp ... (read more)

Report this review (#46557) | Posted by | Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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