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DRAGON

Prog Related • New Zealand


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Dragon biography
Dragon formed in Auckland, New Zealand, in January 1972 with a line-up that featured Todd Hunter on bass guitar, guitarist Ray Goodwin, drummer Neil Reynolds and singer/pianist Graeme Collins. All had been in various short-lived bands in Auckland, Collins is credited with using I Ching to provide the name Dragon. Their first major gig was an appearance at The Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival in early January 1973. By 1974 several personnel changes had occurred, with Todd Hunter's younger brother Marc Hunter joining on vocals and Neil Storey on drums. The band recorded two progressive rock albums in their native New Zealand, Universal Radio in 1974 and Scented Gardens for the Blind in 1975 both on Vertigo Records. Despite being New Zealand's top live attraction by late 1974, neither albums nor related singles had any local chart success, and they recruited Robert Taylor (ex-Mammal) on guitar as they searched for a raunchier pop sound. By early 1975, manager Graeme Nesbitt (ex-Mammal), who had obtained regular gigs and organised their first New Zealand tours, felt they should tackle the larger Australian market. Nesbitt was unable to travel with them to Australia - he had been arrested for selling drugs.
This was the first stage of Dragon's career and also the one that granted them access to Prog Archives. The band is still going strong today, which may or may not have been due to the shift away from their earlier flirtation with prog rock.

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DRAGON discography


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DRAGON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 15 ratings
Universal Radio
1974
3.97 | 14 ratings
Scented Gardens for the Blind
1975
4.33 | 3 ratings
Running Free
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sunshine (Aka. Dragon)
1977
4.00 | 2 ratings
O Zambezi
1978
4.00 | 1 ratings
Power Play
1979
4.00 | 2 ratings
Body And The Beat
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
Dreams Of Ordinary Men
1986
4.00 | 1 ratings
Bondi Road
1989
4.00 | 1 ratings
Incarnations
1995

DRAGON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Live One
1985
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Melbourne - 1989
2009

DRAGON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DRAGON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DRAGON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

DRAGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Scented Gardens for the Blind by DRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.97 | 14 ratings

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Scented Gardens for the Blind
Dragon Prog Related

Review by Andis

4 stars One of those albums that won't make it to your top 25 albums of all time but every time you listen to it, it brings a smile to your face. Of the six songs on the album three of them are symphonic rock and three are melodic rock with hints of progressive rock in the same vein as Manfred Mann is considered progressive rock. Still, when it's good, it's great! There are some brilliant moves on some of the longer songs like on La Gash Lagoon (8:18) and Sunburst (8:33) and it reminds me of early Yes or Greenslade. It's very melodic progressive rock with great vocals and the keyboard player has a key position on the album and delivers lots of moog synths, organ, mellotron etc. Still, if you like progressive rock with an emphasis to the melodic side and fancy the early side of the 70s, this is a must buy. Every symphonic rock album that brings a smile on my face is worth having!
 Universal Radio by DRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Universal Radio
Dragon Prog Related

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars So, finally, after some debate (from my part aswell), Dragon have found their way into PA. Their first two albums are undeniably progressive, while the rest of their discography leans more towards rock and pop, as you all probably well know.

This album, their debut, is a charming and very good example of early progressive rock, dominated by organ and a slice of psychedelic pop. Having their base in New Zealand I can fully understand that they might have found trouble hitting it big, despite the fact that Dragon play seriously progressive rock with a bite. While not overly complex they do deliver a blend of hard rock stricken, psychedelically infused progressive rock of some proto-type. There is a real british tone to the music, which may or may not surprise some of you.

The organ is very present, a thing that pleases me immensely. Soundwise Ivan Thompson resembles Jon Lord in his heaviest moments. The organ is treated in a very exciting and heavy fashion, giving space to the clicks and thumps.

The opening title track starts with mellow electric piano, leading into drums and acoustic guitar and a rhythm section in the middle. Great track. "Going slow" is certainly on the poppier side but not without presenting it in a progressive stricken overcoat. "Patina" begins with organ before it all breaks loose. This is one of the best tracks, alongside "Avalanche". Heavy prog, one might say. The short "Weetbix" is sort of an intro to the majestic "Graves". The organ is thumping and led- heavy. It's like being hit, repeatedly with a hammer, before the more gentle vocals brings ease and comfort. This track is most likely my favorite, being so dominated by this thunderous organ. The centre-piece, however, ought to be the multipart epic "Avalanche". Brooding, ominous and quite scary at first it leads into yet another thumping and groovy psych-pop section, where the vocals are laced with some echo effect. Great stuff and it gets my body moving to the rhythm. Then there's the instrumental section, circa halfway into the song. The sound is so dark and menacing. The ending is amazing! I suppose this is the greatest of all the tracks on Universal radio.

While Dragon cannot claim to have climbed heights noone else have climbed or broken barriers never before broken, this is certainly a very progressive effort and a really exciting one at that. Leaning heavily towards hard rock and psych the sound is sort of crude and unsophisticated, yet thrilling and skilled. I love this album and the way it grooves, thumps, kicks and broods along. If you like early prog (say between 1969-1975) this could be right up your alley. To me it is easily four stars.

 Scented Gardens for the Blind by DRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.97 | 14 ratings

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Scented Gardens for the Blind
Dragon Prog Related

Review by sl75

4 stars Dragon's second album already shows signs of their move towards a more mainstream, poppy sound - paradoxically, it also ramps up the prog even more compared to their first album, so that the best moments on this album are the high points of Dragon music.

Even in their poppier moments - "Vermillion Cellars", "Greylynn Candy" and "Darkness" - they are unable to play it completely straight - Ivan Thompson never stops playing his bubbling Wakeman-esque style organ (a huge feature of "Darkness"), and some fleeting changes of metre creep in to both "Vermillion Cellars" and "Greylynn Candy" (though never in commercially-unsettling places). However, the lyrics of "Vermillion Cellars' make clear the future intentions of the Hunter Brothers - 'if you don't play what the people want, well son, you're out the door'

By contrast "La Gash Lagoon", "Sunburst" and the title track are in full-blown symphonic prog territory, led again by Thompson's keyboards. "La Gash Lagoon" is a tasteless title for a song about streetworkers, but the music is winning, approaching Yes territory. "Sunburst" (my personal favourite) boasts a soaring vocal melody, great interplay between Beggars Opera-style organ, jangling guitar, and a rhythm section deliberately muddying the waters (is it 6/8 or 3/4?). The title track resembles Genesis in various places, with it's mix of electric and acoustic interludes, although it's clear from his delivery that Marc Hunter isn't taking the song seriously (he would later dismiss both their New Zealand albums as 'concept albums with no concept').

Definitely the better of the two Vertigo albums, even with the flagged move into poppier territory. Hence 4 stars, although it's probably more a 3.5. After this they had a radical lineup change (only the Hunter Brothers were still in the band a year later), moved to Australia, and adopted a much more radio-friendly sound, gaining them a string of hits. I haven't heard any of their later albums and am not in a huge hurry to collect any of them.

 Universal Radio by DRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.79 | 15 ratings

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Universal Radio
Dragon Prog Related

Review by sl75

3 stars This first album by Dragon will be unrecognisable in sound to those who primarily know the band from their later poppier incarnation. The sound is reminiscent of the earliest days of British prog, organ-dominated, strongly psych-flavoured. not yet overly complex, sometimes (as on the title track, "Going Slow" and "Avalanche") owing more to the psych-period Beatles than anything more overtly proggy, with low-key vocals reminiscent of Pink Floyd, while the more overtly proggy moments are closer to, say, Cressida or Rare Bird.

The star of the show is keyboard player Ivan Thompson, whose neoclassical style gives interest to even the least progressive material. Todd Hunter's wandering bass style is also a major factor. The weakest link would be guitarist Ray Goodwin - there are few guitar solos, even fewer that are memorable. Marc Hunter's personality does not yet come through very strongly on this album, except on "Going Slow" where he seems to be almost daring the listener to hate him.

The standout track is "Patina", the most symphonic track, reminiscent of those bands mentioned just above (with a trace of early Camel as well), with a lengthy, complex layered arrangement with multiple changes of pace. "Graves" is also a highlight The weirdest track is undoubtedly "Weetbix" - what the hell were those lyrics?

Thanks to guldbamsen for the artist addition.

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