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Jade Warrior - Fifth Element CD (album) cover

FIFTH ELEMENT

Jade Warrior

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.23 | 28 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The second of 2 JADE WARRIOR albums recorded in 1973 but not released until 1998 reflects yet another dynamic shift in the "direction" of the trio, if one can refer to their path as having any direction whatsoever. Even though it was recorded during the same period as "Eclipse" and perhaps shared with it some of the same sessions, "Fifth Element" does not express the same genotypes and phenotypes. Moreover, it offers the most direct of all possible links to the impending Island years, in the form of an early version of "On the Mountain of Fruit and Flowers" that would appear for the first time on 1974's "Floating World", an album that many who are not frozen on the "early albums are best" mantra feel is their finest moment, BRIAN ENO apparently among them.

Now, "Mountain of Fruit..." is lovely, no question, but one must consciously clear the memory banks to appreciate how it must have sounded before its first official appearance on record. Yes, a brilliant if characteristically protracted - the first official version would run 2 minutes shorter and is better for it - exposition of where the group was going, and how well they could manage without Glyn Havard's stoned King Crimson narrations. What is most surprising is how, in a lucid breakthrough, they don't completely dismantle that premise over the next 35 minutes, with or without Havard.

This is a far mellower proposition than "Eclipse". The exceptions are Discotechnique which is as bad as it sounds, and "24 Hour Movie", both of which are more akin to the mundane rockers of "Last Autumn's Dream" than the off kilter experiments of "Eclipse", The ballads "Hey Rainy Day" and "Annie", along with the surprising "Have you Ever" which combines both reflective and aggressive aspects, all in just a slightly less gentrified neighborhood than their sisters on earlier albums. "We are the One", though grammatically wanting, might have been an influence for the likes of CAMEL, STEVE HACKETT and ROUSSEAU, and, if one can believe JADE WARRIOR fans, they probably were. On the instrumental side, "Yam Jam" reflects a continued generally Latin American and specifically SANTANA influence in the rhythms and guitars, and is rather tasty as well.

One of the interpretations for the Fifth Element is that of the aether, from which earth, air, fire and water are all formed. This is sometimes conceptualized as God, or, more universally, as spirit. There you have it, JADE WARRIOR introducing the new age fully 10 years before its commercial ascendancy. They would go on to define it in utero over the next 5 years.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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