The Dragons - BFI
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The Dragons
BFI

Awhile back, Strictly Kev/DJ Food was digging through some record crates (as he is wont to do), and discovered a private-press soundtrack for an obscure surf film called A Sea For Yourself. On this soundtrack was a psychedelic rock track by a group called The Dragons, and after following some leads he discovered that they had an entire album that they'd recorded around the same time. The three brothers in the band (Doug, Daryl, and Dennis, natch) didn't exactly drop out of music, as they all played in the Beach Boys' backing band while Dennis became a successful record producer and Daryl became The Captain (as in The Captain And Tennille).

At any rate, Ninja Tune now presents the long, lost album by The Dragons, originally recorded almost forty years ago and then left on a shelf. It's eleven tracks and just over forty minutes of laid-back, seriously west-coast rock that has hints of everything from British Invasion to groups like The Doors. "Cosmosis" kicks things off and is about what you might expect given a track with such a title, as dueling clavinet lines, electric piano, harp, and bass all race out over rapid-fire drumming and create a brisk instrumental that sets the stage nicely.

"Food For My Soul" adds some light vocals and like most of the tracks on the release, there's barely any guitar. Rhodes piano and organ bounce back and forth on the lead melody while solid rhythmic underpinnings keep things moving. About halfway through, the release gets a bit more interesting, as "Are You There?" funks things up with distorted clavinet and bass while the brothers do their best to get down vocally. It's playful, and more than a little silly, but like a good portion of the release is quite charming as well.

In other places, they let rip with the effects, and "Sunset Scenery" is another instrumental that piles phasers onto everything from the organs to the drums, creating a weird little progressive/surf rock track that's fairly unique. "Big Mike Requiem" is even more strange, as it starts out almost hymn-like before building into a rocking blowout that melts down with tape-loop squiggles of vocals and oscillator electronics effects.

Apparently, the trio shopped the record around for several months after they'd finished it, but record executives at the time didn't hear any songs that they could sell as singles. Largely, that holds true, as their better tracks don't hold up to the popular releases of the era (although I'm sure there were plenty of other groups worse given a full release at the time). That said, the more odd moments of the release stand out as fairly unique, and as mentioned above it's largely a charming little release that's definitely worth hearing if you're a fan of other music from around the same time period.

rating: 6.7510
Aaron Coleman 2007-12-20 18:47:59