Friday, November 6, 2015

Dragon - Body And The Beat (1984) plus Bonus B-Side Single


(New Zealand 1973 - Present)
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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.
Marc Hunter
Drugs were very popular around the band and in September of 1976 drummer Neil Storrey had died of a heroin overdose. Paul Hewson suffered from chronic osteo problems and tended to self-medicate with narcotics. Ed St. John's first assignment as a journalist was to interview Dragon on the release of their debut Australian album, Sunshine. 'This writer can remember vividly his first interview with the group during which singer Marc Hunter methodically picked up Mandrax tablets and crushed them with a spanner. Generally speaking, Dragon's ability to make people uncomfortable enhanced their image,' he wrote.
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 briefly reformed in 1982 to pay off outstanding debts, with the band then staying together to have another shot at success. Their second comeback single, “Rain”, proved to be a massive hit, and Jacobson left the band for health reasons and was replaced by British drummer Terry Chambers, formerly from the band XTC. American keyboard player and producer Alan Mansfield also joined at this point. The band’s 1984 album 'Body and the Beat' became one of the biggest-selling albums in Australia and New Zealand and Dragon was restored to something close to its late 70s glory. Its public profile was further raised at this time by the Marc Hunter solo album, Communication. Paul Hewson left Dragon and died in New Zealand in January 1985.

Dragon 1984 (LR) Terry Chambers, Marc Hunter (rear), Alan Mansfield (front), Todd Hunter, Paul Hewson (front) and Robert Taylor (rear)
Band members Terry Chambers and Robert Taylor left some time after. American drummer Doane Perry replaced Chambers, and Taylor was eventually succeeded by Sydney guitar ace Tommy Emmanuel. This line-up produced the Todd Rundgren-produced 'Dreams of Ordinary Men' album and later toured Europe with Tina Turner under the name Hunter (in 1987). In 1987 while on tour with Tina, John Farnham asked Todd and Johanna to write a song for his next album. They wrote “Age Of Reason“ which went to No.1 in Australia and was a hit in Germany and Canada.

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
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Album Review
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
In 1979, after firing vocalist Marc Hunter and trying to continue without him Dragon split up and Marc Hunter released a couple of solo albums (Fiji Bitter and Big City Talk).  In the early 80s Dragon decided to have another go at it.  They updated their sound a bit and capitalized on the success of Hunter's Big City Talk album and single as the springboard to catapult them back onto the Aussie charts after a four year absence with the single "Rain".
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]
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30th Anniversary Tour
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
The resulting album was Body And The Beat?, a platinum selling record that dominated the charts in Australia in the mid-1980s. This was the album that kicked of Dragon's “Glory Years” and it was Paul Hewson, Kerry Jacobson and Robert Taylor's final recorded outing with the band after many productive and epic years.

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.

Dragon Today
 Todd says the band is already enjoying preparing for the 30th anniversary tour. “It’s great fun to play these songs again,” he says. “We don’t play them in our current set because there just isn’t time, so it will be great to give these songs a run for a change. We’ve been working on replicating the original parts and harmonies so there will be a lot to recognise. There is amazing affection for the songs off this album and it’s very enjoyable to celebrate a very specific point in the band’s development. There must be something timeless about a number of these songs because whenever we play people of much later generations are down the front singing all the words! It just doesn’t get better than that!”

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.

This is a show not to be missed as Dragon storm their way through the hits from the record like "Wilder World", "Cry", "Magic", "Body and The Beat", "Rain" and finish the night with the crowd singing anthems like "April Sun In Cuba", "Celebrate", "Speak No Evil" and "Are You Old Enough".

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]
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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.
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Track Listing
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)
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The Band:
Marc Hunter: Vocals
Todd Hunter: Bass
Robert Taylor: Guitar
Terry Chambers: Drums
Paul Hewson: Keyboards
Alan Mansfield: Keyboards, Guitar


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Dragon MP3 Link (116Mb)
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Dragon FLACs Link (302Mb)
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6 comments:

  1. Please tell me which link to click on the mp3 page, all seem to lead to pop up ads or .exe files which my virus checker says contain viruses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4Shared (Mp3) - Look for the Download link next to the Share button. Then select Free Download in next window.
      MEGA (FLACs) - select the option Download Through Your Browser

      Delete
  2. edu el uruguayo alienJanuary 16, 2017 at 5:42 AM

    thanks very good

    ReplyDelete
  3. Que recuerdos de canción, muchos de mi época escucharon tan elegante y bailable canción....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lo máximo. Toda una canción del recuerdo. Lo máximo. Gracias por el aporte.

    ReplyDelete