Norway - Full Moon 124 - 11/05/06
Rainbow Quartz International
I nodded approvingly the first times I played this little silver disc. It sounded really good. Then I put it away and after some days of mediocre music it was a relief to return to the Doggie newbie. When I played it again to finish this review, Reefy Seadragon was a revelation... It's filled with catchy songs, built on the best classic pop song fundament there is, meaning the one from the mid 1960s. Also, it includes the will to experiment with instruments, effects, lyrics... of the best British psychedelic traditions to make the songs last even longer. Call it psychedelia, pop-sike or simply pop with a twist. Anyhow it's classic pop music of noble vintage; it doesn't matter if it's from 1966, 1967, 2005 or 2006.
The album starts with two killer tracks. "The American Line" opens (well, after about seven seconds) with a delightful guitar-riff and -sound, instantly catching stuff. Then the melody is folded out with vocals, bass, drums and all. Then a sitar-sounding guitar appears and dominates the best part of the song, partly on a smooth sandy carpet of mellotrons. We get a sitar-sounding solo, followed by a free-form jazz trumpet one and the song ends with something similar to a didgeridoo after two minutes and 38 seconds. Doesn't seem very appealing, eh? Well, it's stuff for the eternal pop heaven, if you ask me! The catchiest sea song I ever heard (Richard Starkey can eat his heart out with his coloured submarines and octopus's gardens...). It would've fared long and well on the hit lists in a more just world. "What You Were On", a post wedding blue Monday, follows in the footsteps with the same sitar-guitar sound. A little more laid-back, a light organ and flute-sounding mellotron fills the gaps. "Spanish Peasants" and "Mystical George" are other songs of similar instantly catchy and still long lasting quality, the latter with a nod in direction of the late Norwegian The Tables.
But, of course, we're in for more. "The Puppeteer" is a dreamy instrumental, like floating softly away on lazy old waves. With a harp and led by a fascinating guitar, is it backwards I wonder. The band demonstrates a rockier side in "Get Out, The Sun Is Shining" and Donovan's "Cosmic Wheels". Well, at least the guitars
and parts of the production are rougher than usual. The latter is a long lost gem that fits nicely with Dog Age's overall pop-sensibility. "Bongsong" and "Tea, And A Wife" flirts with progressive elements of the early 1970s. At least I dimly perceive a few whimsical elements from the Gong catalogue. Whereas "God Lives
Under The River" nods towards sympho-rock with majestic mellotrons, acid guitar solo and a real piano as mentioned in the interview with the band.
The second cover version, George Harrison's "Blue Jay Way" has wisely been put at the end of the album. It's foggier and murkier than the Beatles' original. Productionwise it stands out compared to the rest of the album, like "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Beatles' Revolver. Coming
to think of it, Reefy Seadragon works as Dog Age's Revolver, or Pet Sounds if you like. It includes songs of the same format and calibre, only a few more than three minutes long, 13 tracks, hardly a weak one. The album lasts 36 and a half minutes, a little longer than the two 1966 classics. I
suppose we might include Reefy Seadragon in our ongoing Through the retro-scope anniversary series in 10, 20 or 30 years time. Dog Age's third album As It Were is also great and has a couple of even catchier choruses than on Reefy Seadragon, but it lasts too long -
almost 50 minutes - to fit into the instantly classic pop album format.
If I have to make a few minor complaints, it has to be the cover painting that doesn't include any nice coral creatures and the way the lyrics are written in the booklet, in small letters in a spiral.
But it reflects the contents, I guess, pretty dizzy in between: 'Sailing is clean and beverage
promised, The sounds that will follow us down are impossible tunes' (off "Spanish Peasants"). The only real problem with the album as far as I can see is the distribution. Despite the international name of the label the disc has no European distribution yet. I ordered my copy from Amazon in the US. It took
almost a month to cross the Atlantic. I guess it will be cheaper and quicker to order the album directly from Rainbow Quartz International. You might also check out the Doggie guys' home page and some downloads
here including the wonderful "The American Line".
Copyright © 2006 JP