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Do Dragons And Ninjas Exist? On Master Tape & Vinyl They Do.

Posted by Molli Fire on Friday, 8June07

Fans of surf rock, Beach Boys instrumentals, and late 60’s psychedelic jazz, may I please have your exquisite attention for a moment. I have some big news for you…

“Here’s a little story, I got to tell, about 3 bad brothers, you know SO well. It started way back in history, with Doug, Daryl, Dennis, and Donn Landee….”

It begins with the story of the Dragon brothers, which reads like the Lords of Dogtown for psychedelic surf rockers. In the late 60’s, Doug, Daryl and Dennis Dragon lived, surfed, and rocked in Malibu California. Donn Landee, a high school friend of Dennis Dragon, was working as a recording engineer at Sunwest Recording Studios in Hollywood. The Dragons would sometimes go to the studio to record tracks in the wee hours of morning after finishing a gig in LA. This story is so good, I need to let the original author tell it:

They call the sessions “Blue Forces Intelligence,” find themselves layering their instruments in new ways, adding deep, bassy vocal lines and then ramming them up against falsetto harmonies, adding organs and space age sound effects, recording spirituals and pop and crazy rock opera. The effect is increasingly spacey and weird, but also funky – a missing link between new directions others are exploring in jazz and soul as well as rock music.

Unfortunately, the suits at the West Coast offices of the major labels aren’t ready, complaining that they don’t hear a hit. After shopping the record, now called just “BFI”, for a few months, the boys become disillusioned and focus instead on their session work. They all end up working in the Beach Boys’ backing band. Doug moves to Hawaii, tours Australia. Dennis becomes a successful record producer. Daryl hooks up with Toni Tennille and experiences international chart success as “The Captain”. The Dragons’ “BFI” is forgotten.

Dennis Dragon 2LP A Sea For Yourself - USDennis Dragon 2LP A Sea For Yourself - AUS

In addition to this surf album, Dennis Dragon also composed the soundtracks for skate movies and ski movies…

Jump on 37 years. Strictly Kev/DJ Food, influential mixologist and designer for Ninja Tune and obsessive record collector – picks up a new batch of vinyl from a record dealer he knows. In amongst them is a 500-run private pressing of the soundtrack to a surf movie called “A Sea For Yourself”. On it is a track called “Food For My Soul” by a band called the Dragons. Kev being a fan of all possible food-based puns and currently putting together the mix for his new “Solid Steel” mix cd for Ninja, drops the needle on the groove.

What he finds amazes him – a true psychedelic original from a band he’s never heard of. Using his extensive contacts in the world of vinyl mania, he manages to track Dennis Dragon down. He emails him, asks him if he can include “Food For My Soul” on the mix. Sure, says Dennis. There’s a whole album of the stuff if he’s interested. Dennis checks. Donn still has the master tapes. He converts them to mp3 and emails them to Kev. Kev is blown away. He forwards them to Ninja Tune. Ninja Tune think it’s a scam. But then they listen. And they listen again. And then, after nearly forty years sitting on a recording engineer’s shelf, Ninja Tune decide to release “BFI”.

I was so entranced by this story that appeared as a humble press release in my inbox today, that I had to just quote it directly. I rarely do this, but this was just too good.

Ninja Tune Releases New Dragons Album - BFI

“And moral of this story is: keep your master tapes. Whatever you do, keep your master tapes. ”
-James from Ninja Tune

Boy is that the truth! The question now, is ARE YOU READY?

BFI, recorded by The Dragons in 1970, will be released August 27th 2007 by the one and only Ninja Tune! “Food for my soul” was included on both the full length album, Solid Steel Presents DJ Food & DK: Now, Listen Again! and the limited edition Now, Listen Again! 7″ promo record which were both released in April of this year. Check the Ninja Tune Store for copies.

Ninja Tune And Dragons LINKS

Ninja Tune – ultra cool website that features all the Ninja’s allies: Big Dada, Solid Steel, Coldcut…
Ninja Tune music$pace
Dennis Dragon Page in the Composers Index of Soundtracks

 

Soundtracks by Dennis Dragon include:

Hal Jepsen: surf / skateboard films:
“Super Session”
“Go For It”
“A Sea For Yourself”
“We Got Surf”
“Skateboard Madness”
… etc.

Other films:
“Winter Equinox” (ski film)
“Spinnin’ Wheels” (skateboard film)

Warren Miller Productions, Hollywood, Ca / (ski film):
“Steep and Deep”

 


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3 Responses to “Do Dragons And Ninjas Exist? On Master Tape & Vinyl They Do.”

  1. Max 1 Million said

    Do have audio links? This story makes it sound pretty cool. I can’t wait to hear some.
    Great site by the way. The colors are easy on the eyes.

  2. Dunbar said

    I’ve given this album a listen and i don’t believe it was recorded in the late ’60s or early ’70s. The recording and production are just way too good.

    If you compare this album with those released by major recording artists of the era it sticks out like a sore one. The big groups of the day had the biggest budgets, the best studios, the best equipment, the best engineers, etc… and none of their albums come close to the quality of this Dragons long player.

    Sure, modern mastering techniques can polish old recordings; but there are limits to what can be achieved. The songs on this album could have been written and arranged decades ago; but it’s a recent recording.

    I think Ninja Tune have invented a history for this album; it’s still pretty good though – well worth checking out if you’re a fan ’60s psych, surf ‘n’ soul.

  3. Molli Fire said

    I hear what you’re saying and it’s a great point. Props to you for making the comparison. But, keep in mind that the Dragon Brothers had a lot of studio expertise. One of them made a long career as a recording engineer. I believe fully that knowledge and passion can make a better record than money and bottom-lines. Plus, the master tape was supposedly untouched for decades.

    In other words, I believe that either story is possible. You may be totally right that this history has been fabricated and that the album was re-recorded. But, I still love the history, and I believe in magic, so I will just stick my first story here.

    Thanks for the comment, and a BIG THANKS for reporting your opinion on the album!! I wish all readers would come here and report what they think of an album once it has been released!

    Oh, and by the way, I am starting to decommission this site because I bought it its own domain and hosting. To keep up with HearingTest news and music, please head over to the new site:
    http://www.musicnewsculture.com

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