Jade Warrior - Jade Warrior [Esoteric Records/ Cherry Red - 2022]
Released in the year 1971 Jade Warrior’s self-titled debut stands as a fairly distinctive slice of prog rock. It features a heady blend of meaty guitar riffing, grooving-to-moody flute work, and world music touches- with some nice shifts in pace, as well as some more pronounced psychedelic/ otherworldly moments. Here from Esoteric Recordings, Cherry Red’s prog focused sub-label is a CD reissue of the album.
The CD comes presented in a glossy digipak- this recreates the album's original oriental toned artwork, featuring a sailed boat floating above a green rural landscape. Coming with the disc is a twenty-page inlay booklet this takes in a seven-page write-up about the band and the album, as well as a single picture of the three-piece and a few more recreations of the album artwork.
Jade Warrior was a British prog band formed in the year 1970. It brought together Glyn Havard- bass and vocals. Jon Field- flute and percussion, and Tony Duhig- guitar. Between starting and 2008, the band released fifteen full-length albums.
The self-titled debut appeared in 1971 on Vertigo records- it was a ten-track album, with a total runtime of forty-four minutes. And it’s fair to say it’s a nicely varied affair- both in its instrumental use, be it formal rock tools, or world music instruments, and the pacing of the tracks themselves. The album starts with “The Traveller” this two-minute forty track blends together clip-clopping tabla like percussion, expressive flute piping, and guitar work that moves between moodily clean Spanish/ classical fare, to baying atmospheric blues-rock. As we move through the album, we come to the six minutes forty of “Masai Morning”- this opens with light knocking and hiss ethnic percussion, which is joined by slow weaves of mysterious flute work. As we move on frying ‘n’ chugging guitar riffing kicks in over a rather manic ritual dance-like percussion. We then shift into lulls of ethic chanting male voices and tight percussive hits, before getting sudden rises of roaring guitar and flute trails, all unfed by manic voodoo-like percussion fills.
In the second half of the album, we go from dirty blue rock simmer meets slapping percussion of “Petunia” with once again features some real meaty & roaring guitar tones. There’s the grooving flute and twanging guitar opening of “Psychiatric Sergeant” which later shifts into jaunting ‘n’ guitar roaring jazz-rock, which has rather a King Crimson feel to its vocal work. With the album playing out with ticking-ticking like oriental guitar meets weaving flute trails of "Sundial Song" which features sing-song vocals- with shifts between strutting roaring blues rock, with the singer having a low register Ozzy Osbourne feel, and clean ‘n’ drifting jazz-rock flows. This reissue adds in the first version of one of the album's tracks.
It's great to see Esoteric Recordings digging deeper into the 70’s prog scene to uncover and release lesser-heard, and distinctive gems like this self-titled album. And if you enjoy adventurous prog, that mixes ethnic elements & grooving flute playing, with roaring and meaty guitar- this is most certainly a must!.Roger Batty