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Jade Warrior - Released CD (album) cover

RELEASED

Jade Warrior

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.53 | 109 ratings

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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.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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