Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Dragonfly - Dragonfly


Released 1970 on Megaphone
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 28/12/2004ce

1 Blue Monday
2 Enjoy Yourself
3 Hootchie Kootchie Man
4 I Feel It
5 Trombodo
6 Portrait of Youth
7 Crazy Woman
8 She Don't Care
9 Time Has Slipped Away
10 To Be Free
11 Darlin'
12 Miles Away

Very little is known about this group other than that they were most likely from southern California. The lone self-titled Dragonfly album is a tough psych-pop/proto-metal gem that features AAA+ acid guitar solos, dynamic rhythms & complex multi-part compositions that recall pop-art era Who & the MC5's classic "High Time"; plus endless weird production touches like backwards tapes, judicious echo & reverb, overdubbed orchestration, etc., and with the tracks segueing together into two side-long suites. The bluesy singer does a fine job too, smoothly growling like T.S McPhee tempered with a bit of Burton Cummings.

Sure all this sounds familiar and has been done by plenty of others before & since, but rarely does a record distill the moment in pop history with a hit-to-miss ratio as high as you'll find here. In fact I can't say there's a single disappointing track on here, the only criticism one could make is that some of the songs begin to sound similar to each other after a while.

"Blue Monday" begins with some off-tempo hard blooz riffage (Blues Magoos minus the organ maybe?) before sliding into a thrashy gogo acid groove. The whole world is turning day-glo blue from sheets of melodic guitar feedback constantly wailing tremolo-squeejee-stylee ala Fever Tree & the Amboy Dukes.

"Enjoy Yourself" is an obvious GET HIGH anthem, beginning with some crazy stereo-panned drum riffs before crunching into a midtempo MC5 groove leading to a backwards cymbal swooshy waltz time bridge: "Merry go round tripping along / stumbling over skyscrapers / you can touch the sky with your elastic mind / DON'T FALL DOWN!down!down!down!" the last word echo looping, crossfading into angular Vincebus Eruptum guitar solo. Great sarcastic-punk delivery on the final lyric too: ". . . and your TV dinner is burnin' up, ENJOY YOURSELF!!"

"Hootchie Kootchie Man" is totally progged out, no "cod blues" here my friends. It comes off like "LA Woman"-era Morrison fronting the Groundhogs (complete with another Leigh Stephens-esque backwards guitar solo.)

"I Feel It" features many MC5ish rhythm elements, and more great lead guitar that seems to fuse the Stephens & Holden styles of Blue Cheer. But also harpsichord-like guitar arpeggios! These guys defiinitely know how to arrange their shit.

"Trombodo" is a brief faux-Spanish orchestral interlude that very much recalls that perennial favorite of prog rockers everywhere, Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" (see also Uriah Heep's "Salisbury" track.)

"Portrait Of Youth" steals the verse riff and pummeling drum rolls from "I Can See For Miles" and weds them to a Beatlesy chorus complete with those stretched meters that Lennon loved so much (very much like the extra beats in "Good Morning, Good Morning".)

"She Don't Care" uses the waltztime tempo trick again, a sort of stoner version of "Ticket To Ride."

"Time Has Slipped Away" is the toughest darkest moment: "Time is a deep dark hole . . . you've burned my mind with pain / and time has made your grave!" The guitar solo is tortured and dissonant, riffin' like a slightly more laid back Sir Lord Baltimore.

"Darlin" is another 30 second goof, starting with a few bars of country music before collapsing in gales of overdubbed stoned laughter.

The finale "Miles Away" is some tasty Moby Grape/Byrds psychpop with country-folkrock overtones, plus reams of multitracked fuzztone, backwards electronic sounds, tape speed manipulation, raga drones, disembodied orchestras, dub-o-matic crossfading & echo . . . in other words a pull-out-all-the-stops pyschedelicious climax to an album that truly doesn't have a single weak spot.

I realize this "review" has ended up as little more than a list of references to other records of its era, but that merely means "Dragonfly" is an archetypal example of the 1968-1972 late-psych / proto-metal style. In short, if the sort of bands listed above appeal to you than you will definitely love this here Dragonfly album. You know who you are. (And it's way better than Black Pearl!)

A very rare & highly collectible piece of vinyl, "Dragonfly" has been reissued on CD by the Eva label (1992) & also by Musea (2001).

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