Arising from ex-forklift drivers Jon Field and Tony Duhig’s mutual love of jazz and African and Japanese music, Jade Warrior were signed, somewhat grudgingly, by Vertigo as part of a deal to sign Afro-rockers Assegai.
Vertigo’s reluctance seems churlish, as Jade Warrior’s pan-ethnic approach was visionary, both in terms of its foresight and its application. They released their self-titled debut album in 1971 and followed up with this the same year.
Jade Warrior’s uniqueness is evident immediately on Three Horned Dragon King, a guitar-based track lent weightlessness and velocity by Field’s congas and elevated by the flight of guest Dave Conners’s squally, celestial saxophone soloing.
The more placid Bride Of Summer and Yellow Eyes, the latter concluding with a stormy shower of tropical rain, transport you to the sort of hazy glade that only prog, for all its follies, could take you to. Water Curtain Cave, meanwhile, with its blissful flute soloing, is the essence of 1971.
There are generic moments, such as the Deep Purple-esque Eyes On You. All of the group’s strengths, however, solo and ensemble, including Duhig’s caustic guitar style, are gathered together on the album’s centrepiece, the 14-minute roving jam Barazinbar. This reissue, which includes an alternative version of Minnamoto’s Dream, is a worthy restoration of one of British prog rock’s neglected ruins