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The Dragons BFI Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

The Dragons stand on the verge of getting it on throughout BFI, and if they never...

Tim Nelson 2007

Apparently, when Ninja Tune was sent BFI, then still unreleased 37 years after its initial recording, the company assumed it was a scam. DJ Food heard psyche-jazz-rock track "Food For My Soul" on a surfing soundtrack, and decided to track down the mysterious 'Dragons'. They proved to be the virtuoso offspring of a symphony conductor and an opera singer, brothers Doug, Daryl and Dennis, who had played in various west-coast outfits including the Beach Boys' touring band, and one of whom, Daryl, would later find fame as the 'Captain' in Captain And Tenille. The real surprise, though, was that the Dragons had recorded a whole album, and still had the master tapes.

On first inspection, it's easy to see why the company thought BFI (which stands for 'Blue Force Intelligence', possibly a nod to the Dragons' surfing background) was a scam, since everything is so completely over-the-top, from the Age of Aquarius-era lyrics to the sky-high production (Those harpsichords and clavinets! The oscillators! The drum solos! The gospel choirs!). But on closer examination, it's obvious that these are precisely the elements that render BFI authentic; and never more so than on the faux-oriental stylings of "Sandman" or the funk-rock whimsy of "Are You There", making BFI something of a missing link between the Doors and Steely Dan.

The Dragons stand on the verge of getting it on throughout BFI, and if they never quite make it, then it's still exciting hearing them try. Although Doug, Daryl and Dennis were and are clearly accomplished musicians and the production highly inventive, this album is a lot more fun if you don't take it too seriously, a feeling underlined by Dennis Dragon's amusing and informative liner notes, which explain, among other things, that "On the Wall" concerns the interruption of a newly-wed Japanese couple's attempt at consummation by a disturbing vision on the wall, and that a seagull stopped to listen at the window during the recording of "Mercy Call". He doesn't, however, explain the encrypted morse code on "Pop's Bag" – that’s something you'll have to do for yourself.

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