(New Zealand 1973 - Present)
Dragon helped put the drugs into sex, drugs and rock & roll. Fronted by wild man Marc Hunter with brother Todd on bass, Robert Taylor on guitar, Paul Hewson on keyboards and Neil Storrey on drums, Dragon were the most exciting Australian band of the late 'yes. Fueled by an uncompromising attitude and a string of chart hits their influence is still evident.
Dragon embraced a melodic rock approach in keeping with the times, yet still retaining the sound that propelled them to stardom all those years ago. 'Rain' was the comeback single and to this day one of the best singles released in Australasian rock history. This album marked a rebirth for New Zealand's legendary rockers.
Originally a six-piece, the group's lush and intricate pop songs had given them two hit albums in New Zealand—Universal Radio and Scented Gardens For The Blind. Dragon was run by the Hunter brothers, Todd and Marc; the former played bass and provided the group with whatever direction they had. Marc, the younger brother, was born to be a star and his extroverted presence and sense of danger made him the most charismatic performer of the time.
Dragon were looking for a new direction in a new land. Their relationship with Vertigo / PolyGram came to an end after one single, 'Starkissed', penned by guitarist Ray Goodwin who was soon replaced by keyboardist Paul Hewson. Dragon found their spiritual home at the Bondi Lifesaver and adopted a tougher sound. Their set at the time included Lou Reed's ode to outsiders, 'Sweet Jane', some Roxy Music and their own material including a song titled 'Spunk Drunk'.
In October 1976 Dragon announced their new direction with the light funk of 'Get That Jive', which dominated the radio. So much for the heavy metal direction they had taken. Dragon, however, was to be forever strung on the tension between their melodic pop instincts and their often wild lives.
Their producer Peter Dawkins pushed for the group's pop side and Dragon pushed back. Nevertheless, the New Zealanders quickly became one of the most popular acts in Australia. By the end of the year Sunshine was double gold and there was interest from CBS internationally. [extract from 'The Real Thing 1957 - Now', by Toby Creswell & Martin Fabinyi, Random House 1999, p93-94]
Between 1975 and 1979, Dragon scored a string of major hits on the Australian pop charts with songs including “April Sun in Cuba,” “Are You Old Enough” and “Still In Love With You” and with the albums Sunshine and O Zambezi, making them one of the country’s most popular rock acts. Marc Hunter left Dragon in 1979 due to health problems which were, by then, seriously affecting his performances. Singer Billy Rogers formerly of the Perth group Last Chance Cafe and violinist Richard Lee from the Melbourne band Sidewinder were recruited and the group recorded the Powerplay LP before breaking up. In the intervening years Marc released two successful solo singles, “Island Nights” (1979) and “Big City Talk” (1981) Todd had meanwhile teamed up with his partner Johanna Pigott, formerly of group XL Capris, and together they became a successful songwriting team.
|Dragon 1983 (LR) Robert Taylor, Terry Chambers, Todd Hunter, Marc Hunter, Paul Hewson|
|Dragon 1984 (LR) Terry Chambers, Marc Hunter (rear), Alan Mansfield (front), Todd Hunter, Paul Hewson (front) and Robert Taylor (rear)|
Dragon again split up in 1988 although a year later the Hunter brothers and Mansfield had reconvened once again for the Bondi Road album, which also featured Tommy Emmanuel. Dragon continued to record and tour with varying line-ups centred around Todd and Marc Hunter and Mansfield. Todd Hunter retired from the band in 1995 and worked for six years on the soundtrack of Heartbreak High the television series, after the 1995 album ‘‘Incarnations’‘, which featured reworkings of earlier hits. In 1997 Marc Hunter was diagnosed with throat cancer and died on 17 July 1998. [extract from the harbour agency website]
To read a more extensive account of the recording of the album and their 1984 Body And The Beat tour - see the audioculture website
Few CDs scream summer to me the way most of the albums Dragon released in the eighties do. I'd argue that no other band captured the overall atmosphere and spirit of summer in musical form the way Dragon did.
|Marc Hunter - Solo Years|
Rain was so successful the band headed back to the studio to record a full album leaving enough space to include their latest hit... 'The Body and the Beat' was born. Before even opening the LP, CD, or cassette sleeve the album cover suggests opening the windows to let the summer breeze flow through.
From the first bars of their hit single "Rain" through to the closing bars of "Fool" Dragon gives the listener a full on blast of that summer breeze. The album is further augmented by the follow up hits "Cry" and "Magic". But capturing the overall vibe of summer the best is "Cool Down". You can see the heat shimmering off the pavement, the hot sun beating down on you, the sweat forming in droplets on your forehead. This song so perfectly captures the heat of summer that even on the coldest days of winter listening to this song makes me want to crank up the Air Con.
The upbeat vibe of "Promises (So Far Away)" captures the magic and fun of summer nights and further establishes the whole summer vibe of the album:
The moon is a sunlight
It shines in the night
While it sounds dated today, the title track, "Body and the Beat" is a fun song with Todd Hunter's solid bass chops taking center stage. The truth is, there's not really a bad track on the album-- there are good ones and great ones. [extract from perplexio76]
Iconic rockers Dragon are celebrating another milestone in 2015 with the 30th anniversary of their acclaimed 'Body and The Beat' album. To pay homage to this classic release, the band is hitting the road for a string of party tour dates that will see them not only play all their biggest hits, but also the album in its entirety. This is a rare chance for music fans to celebrate one of the most popular albums of the 1980s performed by one of the most revered bands.
When the classic Dragon line-up of Marc and Todd Hunter, Robert Taylor, Paul Hewson and Kerry Jacobson reunited in 1982, it was with the intention of clearing debts from the decade before. But a hit song with lyrics that grew from a children’s nursery rhyme, and the following album and tour, had them again scaling the highest reaches of the Australian charts.
In the early 80s Dragon took to the new Rhinoceros Studios in East Sydney and turned out a bunch of tracks too good to be ignored. Michael Crawley, the A&R man for Polygram Records, heard the band playing Rain from the corridor of the studio and famously stormed into the control room doors shouting "What's that song, I've got to have it" followed closely by "What band are you?" Luckily Crawley, a recent import from the UK, was not familiar with Dragon's wild ways and reputation!
|Dragon's Body And The Beat Tour Plane|
When the album was released in the band toured Australia on the Body and The Beat Tour. They leased two planes to get around and the tour barnstormed through Adelaide, Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney, provincial New South Wales, the Gold Coast, Cairns and Brisbane, virtually selling out everywhere. Their final show of the tour sold out the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 10th August 1985 and was filmed and recorded for later release as The Live One.
Fast forward three decades and Dragon now consists of founding member Todd Hunter (bass), fellow Kiwi Mark Williams (lead vocals / acoustic guitar), Bruce Reid (electric guitar) and Pete Drummond (drums). The four-piece have been touring solidly over the past few years, playing to packed houses and garnering new fans along the way.
In the exclusive two hour show Dragon will play two-sets jam-packed with hits. The band will play the entire 'Body And The Beat' album in the first set and Dragon’s “top ten hits” as voted by the Dragon Facebook fans on in the second set.
To mark the 30th anniversary Dragon will release 'Body And The Beat Live'. This album will exclusively available at the shows and from iTunes. [extract from hotoffthepress.com]
This post consists of FLACs and MP3's (320kps) ripped from a newly acquired vinyl, picked up at my local 2nd hand record store for the bargain price of $5. As usual, you will find full album artwork for both LP and CD releases and label scans. As a bonus, I have also included the impressive B-Side to the single Rain called "It's Too Late" (see pic above). As far as I know, this track has not been available on any albums or compilations.
01. Rain (3:39)
02. Promises (So Far Away) (4:15)
03. Wilder World (3:53)
04. Cry (3:47)
05. Cool Down (4:36)
06. Body and the Beat (4:27)
07. Witnessing (4:43)
08. Magic (3:59)
09. What am I Gonna Do? (3:42)
10. Fool (3:31)
11. It's Too Late (Bonus B-Side Single)
Marc Hunter: Vocals
Todd Hunter: Bass
Robert Taylor: Guitar
Terry Chambers: Drums
Paul Hewson: Keyboards
Alan Mansfield: Keyboards, Guitar
Dragon MP3 Link (116Mb)
Dragon FLACs Link (302Mb)