John McLaughlin: Dragon Song
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Devotion (Restless 7 72656-2)
Billy Rich (bass), Buddy Miles (drums).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: New York, February 1970
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Since its debut in 1970, Devotion has been released and re-released so many times on so many different labels with so many different album covers that it could fuel a small cottage industry in Devotion album collecting. Sometimes the re-releases change the song order, which causes all sorts of confusion as well. All of this bewildering activity just adds to the album's strange history. When originally released, it didn't sell much. But over the years the record's original producer Alan Douglas has found a way to market it in many unique and creative ways. He seems determined to squeeze every last bit of blood out of this rock, for which incidentally he paid John McLaughlin the grand total of $1,000 to record.
"Dragon Song" is a reverberating acid-grunge lick fest. Mahavishnu Orchestra fans will recognize the head arrangement as the same that will later be used for one of Mahavishnu's most famous pieces, "One Word." "Dragon Song" contains one ingratiating guitar riff after another. Propelled by Miles's heavy backbeats, Young's weird sustained B-3 chords and a Rich bass vamp that would be thrilling all by itself, McLaughlin jumps into a whirlpool of funk. Using a heavy foot on a wah-wah pedal, McLaughlin eviscerates the standard guitar sounds in favor of sustained screeches, over-modulated blasts and monster scalar running. The cut is a true threat to your safety and that of others. Hide the children. This is not your mother's "Puff the Magic Dragon."
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
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