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JADE WARRIOR

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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Jade Warrior biography
The music of JADE WARRIOR is somewhat difficult to describe. Among the influences you'll hear in various aspects of JADE WARRIOR's music are rock, jazz, Latin, Japanese, African, ambient, and the kitchen sink (almost literally - there are spoons and an empty whiskey bottle in there somewhere!). It's often melodically simple, and rhythmically complex... or vice versa. This is the kind of music that everyone can hear different dimensions within and is conqueror of none.

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JADE WARRIOR discography


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

3.61 | 115 ratings
Jade Warrior
1971
3.53 | 109 ratings
Released
1971
3.65 | 126 ratings
Last Autumn's Dream
1972
3.68 | 111 ratings
Floating World
1974
3.61 | 97 ratings
Waves
1975
3.28 | 72 ratings
Kites
1976
3.69 | 89 ratings
Way Of The Sun
1978
2.81 | 31 ratings
Horizen
1984
2.06 | 24 ratings
At Peace
1989
3.31 | 33 ratings
Breathing The Storm
1992
3.72 | 25 ratings
Distant Echoes
1993
2.98 | 34 ratings
Eclipse
1998
3.23 | 28 ratings
Fifth Element
1998
3.73 | 28 ratings
Now
2008

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

JADE WARRIOR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

2.65 | 8 ratings
Reflections
1979
4.21 | 20 ratings
Elements: the Island Anthology
1995

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

JADE WARRIOR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Now by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.73 | 28 ratings

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Now
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars With the benefit of almost a half century of hindsight, one can assess the classic era of JADE WARRIOR as being divided into two equally significant epochs, conveniently demarcated by the labels on which they recorded but also by something of a shift in style and content.

The first chapter, the Vertigo years, offered 3 releases and one minor classic, that being the self titled debut. It was characterized by a vocal orientation and a certain collision between yin and yang that didn't always end happily. Still, the blend of early KING CRIMSON and JETHRO TULL meets BLACK SABBATH in the quaint college town of Canterbury turned a few heads I dare say, and with reason.

The next phase was on Island records, where they magically parlayed a 3 record deal with continued lack of commercial windfall into a 4 record sojourn, of which the first and fourth, "Floating World" and "Way of the Sun", can be considered minor classics as much for the quality of the work as for their uniqueness and their apparent influence in the prog world and beyond. This was an all instrumental proposition, more ambient and world oriented but still with occasionally uneasy outbursts of fuzzy guitar that didn't always work. Hmm plus ca change...

That takes us to the end of the 1970s. But this is a review of their 2008 album, so I'd like to fast forward over the 30 intervening years to just say that, while to varying degrees they tried to resurrect the lifeblood of the Island work, they hadn't attempted to reclaim the early Vertigo sound, until "Now". It could not have been otherwise given that original songwriter and vocalist Glyn Havard was back in the fold for the first time since he was kicked out simply because he was a singer, coincident with the Island signing. The simple monosyllabic title is so a propos, for this is JADE WARRIOR now, today, but also now is all that matters; all the past experiences and reflections upon them can help inform our today, but only if one can learn to be in the here and now.

JADE WARRIOR has never made it easy upon themselves, but what "Now" does accomplishes is that most elusive triumph of drawing upon the old sound without retreading, updating without losing their vintage coolness, even if nobody can even imagine, let alone remember when they were cool. A group that barely managed to produce one near perfect piece has arranged two here, in a row! First is the ROUSSEAU like ballad "Journey", which would be miraculous if it didn't name-check "Last Autumn's Dream", but it does, and fully merits the shout out. Then we have "Lost Boys", with all the wisdom of an elder chiding today's spiritual bankruptcies. Yet as lyrically fascinating as it is, the meter here is the real marvel.

While the rest doesn't maintain this high level, "3 AM meltdown" manages to channel frenetic outbursts into gentle aftermaths better than most of what they attempted before. Everywhere are Field's flutes softening the face of the new band, while Gowan Turnbull and Theo Travis contribute lazy brass to persuade us of a jazzy timbre we may have missed before, especially noteworthy on the opener "Fool and His Bride". Shockingly, a dulcimer player happened to be in the studio at that time! Havard dominates in his DAVID SYLVIAN voice...or had Sylvian borrowed Havard's pipes for his uber elegant 1980s albums?. Either way, I do wish DAVID/GLYN would not use them to convey "Screaming Dreams" ever ever again.

Since this last JADE WARRIOR release is 12 years old as of this writing, and FIELD and HAVARD are both pushing 80, one would be pardoned for thinking that "Now" is the final chapter, though apparently there has been work on a successor since at least 2012, called "Haiku". One can hope, but "Now" is a vital release that more or less closes all those pesky loops that were uncomfortably littering our prog fairy tales for too long, if in somewhat typically chaotic WARRIOR fashion. 3.5 stars, of course rounded up!

 Distant Echoes by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.72 | 25 ratings

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Distant Echoes
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars After the creative nadir of "At Peace", Jon Field and Tony Duhig took a break in the late 1980s. As they were about to begin recording of a new album in 1990, Duhig suffered a fatal heart attack. After a period of uncertainty, Field regrouped with two recruits and issued the far superior "Breathing the Storm", which, while clearly steadying the ship, lacked the oomph of any self respecting JADE WARRIOR release. A couple of years later the same trio emerged with a chorus line of distinguished guests including ex KING CRIMSON violinist David Cross and accomplished saxophonist Theo Travers for "Distant Echoes". To date, it's the post-Island era JADE WARRIOR album that most closely approximates the all instrumental approach that persistently considered threatening to make them almost famous in the mid to late 1970s.

Chief among the improvements is the more spirited percussion and the added prominence of electric guitar courtesy of Colin Henson. From the outset, with "Evocation" and "Into the Sunlight", you can almost see Tony Duhig smiling with a glass raised, hopefully where landscape, seascape and soundscape meet in the beyond. Apart from the classic sound, Field and company have integrated reputable influences like CAMEL and PAT METHENY. And, though Island had originally signed them rather unfairly to be their rival to "Tubular Bells", it's on the ethereal "Standing Stones" that we finally hear what WARRIOR and OLDFIELD might have sounded like the morning after waking up together, both minimalizing the experience.

By Jon Field's own admission, JADE WARRIOR never quite made the album they had in them, a species of "Lonely Planet" travelogue between one's dreams, where the journey is all, but they tried, how they tried. "Distant Echoes" is arguably one of their most authentic, but it too falls short of illuminating their intrinsic brilliance consistently enough to ascend to the heights afforded so relatively few. That's a flaw I can live with.

 Breathing The Storm by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.31 | 33 ratings

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Breathing The Storm
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars A few years after the entirely ambient anomaly, "At Peace", recorded at Tony Duhig's ill fated studio, JADE WARRIOR reformed with two new members, Colin Henson and Dave Sturt. Before they could begin recording, Duhig died suddenly. Shaken by the loss, the trio regrouped and created "Breathing the Storm", the first Duhig-less album in band history. While still a bit too comfortably soporific, it is nonetheless a huge improvement on "At Peace" .

Fields' flutes abound and the keyboards are neither tacky nor monotonous for the most part. A few moments even evoke the spirit of the the Island years, especially in "Gift of Wings". Elsewhere, as in "Memory of the Deep", a certain homage is paid to KITARO in the repetition of short colourful motifs that form an underlying rhythm of sorts, which is propitious because, while 2 members apparently contribute percussion, they may well have just brought them into the studio and neglected to set them up, or forgotten them entirely. Sturt contributes a robust fretless bass to a few cuts, which of course is worth half a star just on the face of it, but unfortunately it can't save the title cut from being an utterly banal expose on infinity. Both Field and Henson contribute guitars but they mostly act as a sign that reads "This isn't Patrick O'Hearn", got it? The only piece where I sense some authentic emotional transfer is "Asa no Kiri", which is ironic given its preponderance of high pitched synths, but then Kitaro himself excels in that realm as well.

Some reviews here and there on the web state that this is far and away superior to the new age music of its day but I suspect many who gained that impression spent a lot of time listening to Jade Warrior and very little listening to new age music, and who can blame them? Nonetheless, I'm here to tell you that "Breathing the Storm" is a slightly above average new age recording with an average new age title that, like many of its ilk, under-delivers on its promise. 2.5 stars.

 At Peace by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.06 | 24 ratings

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At Peace
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

1 stars Now for my first review on meditationmusicarchives, I will be discussing this 1986 album that went unreleased for a few years by one-off British duo JADE WARRIOR. Apart from the first track, which actually has a few clips of discernible melody congealed in its interstices, this is an ideal album to which to meditate, to drift off and be certain that nothing untoward will banish your mantra, or whatever you're using to stay on point. The ambient arrangements are gently imparted on amorphous synths, synthy flutes, and fluty synths, with loooooong loooong notes with no beginning and no end, never wavering thank Buddha. A few nature sounds ensure that you will be transported back to the last time you camped outdoors, but will act as calamine lotion to whatever bug bites you might have endured in passing. I would even add that one could overlay guided meditation imagery on "At Peace" without disturbing the titular promise one bit. Don't worry, there are ZERO drums to unbliss you! 4 stars for the opening track and 5 stars for the closing 2 tracks for a 4.5 star rating.......

Wait what? This isn't MMA? And JADE WARRIOR is a venerable prog rock group? Someone wake me now! No, let me sleep, it feels soooooooo gooooood. I'll rate this when I'm awake and can feel at peace with my choice.

 Horizen by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.81 | 31 ratings

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Horizen
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars According to original member and vocalist Glyn Havard, who was unceremoniously written out of the group when they signed to Island Records as an all instrumental band, the group named itself JADE WARRIOR to reflect their yin and yang, their predilection for juxtaposing heavy and soft interludes, sometimes abruptly. They certainly lived up to this name throughout their Vertigo years, and even during the mellower albums that followed. Of course, all along we wondered what the group JADE would sound like, stripped of the WARRIOR. Wait, we didn't? Well, regardless, that question was at least in part answered by 1984's "Horizen", which is largely a Tony Duhig solo album with invited guests. Even Jon Field himself is only on several tracks.

This is a uniformly smooth and mellow album, but, all things considered it could have been a lot worse. Yes the whole production is coated in a lustrous sheen that befits the ascendancy of the New Age era which JADE WARRIOR pioneered, but the compositions are actually reasonably thought out and executed. The album opens with its most triumphant and lucid piece, the "Dune" suite which was ostensibly an ultimately unsuccessful candidate for soundtrack to the movie of the same name, based on the work of science fiction writer Frank Herbert. That doesn't diminish the brilliance of the piece. This is followed with the only major contrast on the album, the steel-drum led "Caribbean Wave", which is certainly one of their more vivacious pieces, and wholly successful.

While the remainder is a notch or two below the opening numbers, "East Wind" and the closing "Long Wait at Mount Li" do offer modest challenges, including a choir on the finale. Overall, this is a rather successful attempt to integrate the classics of the Island era into a more chill 1980s format that still promotes mindfulness. 3.5 stars rounded down.

 Fifth Element by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.23 | 28 ratings

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Fifth Element
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by 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.

 Eclipse by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.98 | 34 ratings

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Eclipse
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Vertigo records never really wanted JADE WARRIOR in the first place, and when the group parted company with their indifferent management, they had nobody stopping the even more apathetic label from wielding the axe. Somehow, before the bad news struck, the trio had laid down tracks for what they hoped would be a double album. That's the good news; the bad news is that, though Vertigo may have included a few of those tracks on promotional disks around that time, the albums 'Eclipse' and 'Fifth Element' did not see any form of release until 1998. As a potential link between the Vertigo and Island years, these recordings must have been long sought after by early fans for the better part of a quarter century. Since they ended up as 2 separate Repertoire offerings, I will discuss them individually, with 'Eclipse' first.

Neither of the temporally adjacent 'Last Autumn's Dream' and 'Floating World' really offer many hints as to the music on 'Eclipse' which is a difficult unfocused mix of heavy prog with snippets of Canterbury-ish psychedelia. But Jade Warrior has habituated us to marked changes within and between albums. The problem this time is quality. The playing is at times wonderful but it can't compensate for the empty director/conductor's chair. This isn't free flow enough to be called jazz in the way that 'Barazinbar' was and the hard rock elements aren't as succinct as on their debut. The worst aspects of the prior 2 albums collide head on here, but those very traits might actually appeal to some more free thinking listeners, though I still find it hard to imagine that anybody would prefer it to, say, that seminal first album. And if you are looking for nods to the upcoming landmark Island albums, you won't find any more here than on the prior works, with the possible exception of the closing number.

We begin on a high of sorts, with the quintessentially English 'English morning' encapsulating all that a travelling musician might miss from his homeland, even in the midst of Labor unrest and the predictably bone chilling climate. 'Sanga' offers some Latin inspired flute and rhythms, while the riff alone on 'Too Many Heroes' might be the most memorable on the whole effort. Tony Duhig so struts his technical mastery that one wonders why brother David was needed at all. Unfortunately, the party serenades itself off a cliff from here, with the dire 'Soldier Song' and 'Holy Roller' sandwiched around the only slightly better 'Mwenga Sketch', mostly better because after all that English abandon a trip to the Congo, no matter how dangerous, must be an improvement. Barely. Luckily they save the best for last, a hypnotic DEAD CAN DANCE inspiring dirge 'House of Dreams' that thrives through OCD the way the others die by ADD.

Whether Vertigo even heard 'Eclipse' before sweeping Duhig and Field aside is unclear, but, if they hadn't, it's doubtful that even special lenses would have altered their perception.

 Last Autumn's Dream by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.65 | 126 ratings

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Last Autumn's Dream
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars For their final offering on Vertigo, JADE WARRIOR pulled out all the stops by expanding their instrumental palette and inviting Tony Duhig's brother David to play rather accomplished guitar on 2 tracks. While the first offering juxtaposed creative rockers and soothing ballads, and the second favored heavier rock and extended jazzy excursions, "Last Autumn's Dream" strikes a middle ground somewhere between KING CRIMSON'S "Islands" and, I don't know, any number of early 1970s garage bands. Luckily in this case there is more of the former, even if whatever jazz was uncovered on "Released" is now shrouded in an ambient haze.

Once you get past the base instincts of "Snake", "Joanne" and "Demon Trucker" and accept that JADE WARRIOR needed to jettison them to attain any modest level of commercial success - which believe me is all they did attain - you can focus on beauties like "A Winter's Tale" and the superb closers "Lady of the Lake" and "Borne on to the Solar Wind", which play to the band's strengths in all aspects. "Morning Hymn" is either GENESIS inspired, or STEVE HACKETT inspiring, or perhaps both. "May Queen" best bridges the rock, folk, pop and jazz boundaries, and sounds little like anything they have done before or since, to their credit.

Oddly, the Island years of 1974-1978 seem to be more of a direct consequence of at least some aspects of "Released" rather than "Last Autumn's Dream", perhaps due to the fact that there were still 2 years left before the band jumped labels. Two releases would have filled that interim if the band had had its way, but those albums did not surface in any form until the late 1990s. JADE WARRIOR may not be perfect but they seem to have been able to spawn a small but ardent audience who wanted, and still want, to dream along with them.

 Released by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.53 | 109 ratings

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Released
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars For many years this was the only release from JADE WARRIOR's early period that I had heard, courtesy of budget bin opportunism. I'm not sure what possessed me to pick it up let alone purchase it but it certainly wasn't the cover art. And, after listening, shelving, and eventually relegating all of 2 tracks to the immortality of digital conversion, I might have actually concluded that the cover was the best part. Luckily I am committed to making reparations and, having properly listened to their debut of the same year and successor of the following year, I can now evaluate "Released" in proper context. Conclusion: it's easily the worst of the three Vertigo offerings but it's not a frisbee either.

Here Duhig, Field and Havard have called in some reinforcements Dave Conners on sax and flute, later of LIZARD, and Allan Price on actual drums. One might argue whether it's the influence of Conners that imparts a hitherto hidden jazz element to the WARRIOR arsenal or whether they engaged Conners to clarify that vision. I'm going to play safe and state it's a little of both, as pieces like "Water Curtain Cave" and "Barinzabar", the two best and longest tracks, don't come about when musicians meet in the studio on the one hand, and absolutely come about when musicians meet in the studio, on the other hand. Both are short on composition, "Barinzabar" especially so, but both establish a groove and wring every living cell out of it before resuscitating it again. The fact they are both instrumental does not actually diminish the contribution of Glyn Havard in the least as his persuasive bass lines more than compensate. Some of the meanderings of Baranzibar are clear precursors to the band's Island Records period of the mid 1970s.

While the band should be commended for altering their style so quickly, thereby establishing a pattern that would repeat in various guises for the years to come, the big issue is that the rockers so dominate the remainder of the pieces and they are shockingly lame and one dimensional for the most part. The title of "Three Horned Dragon King" is its best quality while "Eyes on You" and "Reason to Believe" fare even worse. Only "Minnamoto's Dream" skulks somewhere between contemporaneous BLACK SABBATH and future STEELEYE SPAN (its meters seem to have inspired their "Allison Gross"), and its reference to a Middle Ages Japanese clan is worth a star for sure. But in general the rockers lack the whimsy of their earlier counterparts, which is after all the only saving grace for most rockers anyway.

Yes there are the requisite couple of KING CRIMSON styled ballads, neither brilliant and both very brief but very welcome. "Yellow Eyes" is the more dynamic of the two, though "Bride of Summer" has the more Fripp like guitars. Yet they seem contrived in their placement in an album where the shift to jazz and hard rock leaves them a spent force from the opening bars, relieved to be released.

It's entirely possible that the mix offered on "Released" will work well for you, and there are certainly some band connoisseurs who favor it, but I think that it's too eclectic and not eclectic enough simultaneously. Because the two best tracks are the longest, and they do so by offering up some genuine exuberance, I've no trouble rounding up to 3 stars.

 Jade Warrior by JADE WARRIOR album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.61 | 115 ratings

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Jade Warrior
Jade Warrior Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars While the term 'influential' is often code for 'commercial flop that has gained some notoriety with the passage of time', in the case of JADE WARRIOR the acclaim is well earned and deserved. They may be best remembered for their time on Island Records between 1974 and 1978, in which they pioneered a bewitching fusion of world, ambient and new age when all were the Jane Does of popular music. Before this near brush with non-anonymity, they released three albums on Vertigo which have justly attracted a cult of prog fans, even if they only scored the record deal as a 'throw in' along with the band that the label really wanted to sign.

Both Tony Duhig (guitar) and Jon Field (percussion, flute) had known each other for the better part of a decade and worked with other future luminaries like Tom Newman and in pop and psych bands of the 1960s, which allows even their Jade Warrior debut to sidestep accusations of immaturity. Most of what would form the core of their mid 1970s accomplishments was already in evidence here, from the fascination with world music to the appreciation for pastoral folk to a voyeuristic tendency to shock the listener with crude transitions. Apart from the presence of vocalist/bassist Glyn Havard, what's different here, and what was largely bled out by the time the Vertigo had subsided, was a predilection for blues and rock of their day and of by then bygone days. How well they balanced these disparate influences largely dictates my evaluation of this period. In the case of this inaugural work, they did rather well.

Skirting the clear comparisons to what JETHRO TULL and KING CRIMSON were doing at the time, I also note a kinship with some of the early proto prog, at times veering close to a SPRING with far better musicianship and no mellotrons. The perceived whimsy of some of the lyrics and some of the heavier guitar work approximate some of the early Canterbury like EGG. Not surprisingly, I'm a bigger fan of the more pastoral Crimson oriented work like 'The Traveller', 'Windweaver', and 'Dragonfly Day', and even more so the sublime closer 'Sundial Song' with a nod to PETER GREEN's FLEETWOOD MAC in Duhig's liquid lead guitar. Still, if I had to pick a single highlight, it would be the stunning 'Masai Morning', with three equally 'hairs on end' chapters that refute any notion that the Warrior came at its cosmopolitan pretensions dishonorably and should therefore logically choose to die on its sword.

Even the plod rockers plod and rock with dignity and a stylish savvy, spruced up as they are by playful flute, percussions (no drums are credited here) and lead guitar. The lyrics may not be the most inspired, but even on the weakest number, 'Telephone Girl', they are more naive than offensive. My favorite of the up-tempo numbers is 'Psychiatric Sergeant' but they all integrate well into the band's at times schizophrenic vision.

I would not have believed it when I was done hearing and reviewing the Island anthology, but I now can state with the minimal authority vested in me that this inaugural release is a mighty fine way to begin your exploration of a band, and album, that fully earns its cachet.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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