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Dragon - Scented Gardens for the Blind CD (album) cover




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3.94 | 16 ratings

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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.

sl75 | 4/5 |


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