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Music Review: Jade Warrior – Now

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With a return that is even more welcome than that of the Jedi, Jade Warrior are back with a simply stunning album, Now (Windweaver Records, 2008). There is always an element of risk when you have a long, established, and highly respected tradition surrounding a band, and you decide to return to the studio to revive that name.

No need to worry here. Now oozes all the quality you could possibly hope for. Let’s get a couple of opinions out and up front from the off. With Now they have released a deeply effective album that, if anything, adds to that already bulging reputation.

For a band with a long history of producing some of the most attractive Japanese style covers imaginable, they have come up trumps again. The artwork inside the cover is achieved by Toyokuni IV, assisted by Barry Turner. How I would love that in my hallway.

The line up is a combination of Jade Warrior past and present. There are the flutes, percussion, and keyboards of Jon Field. Glyn Havard returns to add his vocals and guitar. Dave Sturt completes the line up on bass, percussion, and keys. Added to the mix are an impressive list of guest musicians, guitarist Tim Stone, pianist Chris Ingham, drummer Jeff Davenport, and saxophonist Theo Travis (Gong, Soft Machine). 

The band formed following the meeting of the musical minds of Jon Field, and Tony Duhig in the early 1960s. After various changes in name and line ups, the band finally morphed into Jade Warrior. They found a home firstly on the Vertigo label, for three albums, and latterly on Island for their next four. It had been Steve Winwood who had recommended them to Island.

Their style on these early albums was one of trademark complexity. There are touches of straight forward rock, splashes of what we would now call ‘world music’, some African tempos, and dramatic shifts in timings. Their sound was distinctive through Jon Field’s flute playing.

The Japanese theme appeared on 1974’s Floating World. This was further explored on 1976’s Kites, an album rich in its exploration of ancient China and the Zen Master The Ch’eng.

Their history is too long and involved to cover here in any greater detail, save to say that the band gathered dust for ten years. This is why their return is all the more welcome but, as stated, they have a huge reputation to either add to or deflate. With Now it is certainly the former that they achieve.

The album is rich in dynamics, so much so that you will notice additional depth and dimension with every play. Opening with the mouth watering “Fool And His Bride”, beautifully enhanced by Jon’s flute, and the sax of Theo Travis, it is a statement of triumphant return.

There is the delicate vibe that is “Journey”, the magnificently executed “Lost Boys”, the exquisite styling of “Tall Trees”, which flows effortlessly into “Floating Moon”. There is so much going on here that it draws you in and totally absorbs every sense you possess. The constantly shifting foundation of “3am Meltdown” splashes free-form jazz, barking blues onto its intriguing canvas.

The multi layered “True Love” suddenly ignites. “Talisman” oozes emotion whilst “Screaming Dreams” shocks you back to the Now within its roller coaster trip. The intricate, near cinematic, “Everything Must Pass” concludes an album that sounds like it is not just ten years in the waiting but actually ten years in the making.

You could write a musical thesis on this album. That said this review falls on its own simplicity in trying to capture the complexities of this stunning work, So in that vein I’ll summarise. Now has got to be heard. Even I can’t say it any more simply than that.

Jade Warriors official website has all the trademark artistry you would expect, a detailed history, samples, an excellent gallery section, and is well worth a visit.

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About Jeff Perkins

  • JANK

    Good call on Jade Warrior. Long ago I got a 3 CD compiliation that I still treasure.

  • Jeff

    Hi Jank – Since hearing this album I am on a mission to try and get hold of some more of their back catalogue! This album has so much going on within it, so much care taken, imagination expressed, and superb musicianship – if you haven’t got it yet I honestly think you would love it. Let me know….
    thanks for taking the time to read the review and writing back – all appreciated. Jeff

  • http://classicrockmusicblog.com TDub

    Hi Jeff,

    I agree wholeheartedly with you. This is an important album that I hope many more will get to hear. Let it be said, if you were ever a Jade Warrior fan you need this album!

  • Jethro Black

    It’s just the best album I’ve heard all year. Jon Field’s influence is apparent. He is a genius

  • http://www.jimmyvalentine.biz Jimmy Valentine

    And don’t forget Brian Imig played “remiclud” on Now as well!

  • tina gilbert

    I knew Glyn…Tony and Allan years ago..with keyboard player Iain Hines and feel it is not in the spirit of JW the way no credit is given to Iain’s input of experience to Glyn. Contrary to comments from the band in the past…Glyn did not come to London and meet Tony…he met Iain when he worked at ministry of labour..and chatting to Iain on a tea break told him he sang and played Bass. Iain had been founder of the Jets…first rock band in Hamburg..and had exrensive experience recording for Polydor…Teldec…and was in AlexHarvey soul band..so they formed ICARUS a name chosen by Frazer Hines..Jamie in DR WHO-and they recorded TIME TRAVELLER which is still available. T The two wrote this and other songs…including YELLOW BALLOON-DEVIL RIDES out which was played in theatres showing the Hammer movie. They lived at Iain’s Mum’s house…played all usa bases in UK-joined UNIT FOUR plus 2 withTony who with Allan played on PYE sessions produced by Cyril Stapleton. During one session ROBERT FRIPP …recording next door was so impressed he came in and produced 2 sides. Iain had for years been into DON ELLIScross rhythm tracks so introduced the guys to this and taught them 7/4 time..also arranging for ICARUS to play BEIRUT-and TEHERAN- though Tony missed the Lebanon trip..where they visited BAALBEK-a city 9,ooo yrs old …. The guitar player on the IRAN trips was the famous JACKIE MACAULEY. The band played aresidency upon return to uk..then the 3 JWs reformed JW…and IAIN reformed ICARUSand recorded THE MARVEL WORLD OF . Iain always talks with fondness on his times with the boys…his contribution towards the comprehension and feel for eastern music was of merit..so i feel his input should not be covered by afew dismissive words such as Oh..we were in another band which did us bases… Iain and Glyn wrote and recorded the longest psychedeli title ever on the Vietnam war…IT’S A SUPERSONICELECTRONICCATASTROPHICPSYCHEDELIC FREAKOUT-very appropriate in the present climate…lol.LOVE N PEACE TO ALL.

  • CHRIS CUNNINGHAM

    I CAN VERIFY WHAT TINA HAS WRITTEN AS COULD BARRY KINGSTON EX SPARK RECORDS-GLYN WAS COMPLETELY NEW TO THE SCENE WHEN HE ARRIVED AT BROOKE GREEN LABOUR EXCHANGE WHERE HE MET IAIN-FRAZER HINES TOOK IAIN N GLYN AROUND THE A LIST CLUBS SUCH AS HATCHETTS-THE FIRST RECORDING EXPERIENCE GLYN HAD WAS IN TIN PAN ALLEY BACKING FRAZER ON “TIME TRAVELLER” AND IAIN”S TWO SONS CALLED GLYN UNCLE. MY PAL TITA DROVE GLYN AND IAIN TO MANY GIGS-I CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW SUCH AN IMPORTANT YEAR WHICH INCLUDED TAKING THE FIRST BANDS TO THE MIDDLE EAST COULD BE FORGOTTEN. GLYN AND IAIN WROTE SOME GREAT SONGS SUCH AS THE DEVIL RIDES OUT-YELLOW BALLOOM, AND MANY NOT RECORDED SUCH AS FRENCH REVOLUTION-MAN WHO PAINTS THE SUN-LITTLE MAN-WE OFTEN THINK THE TWO COULD HAVE GONE ON TO GREAT THINGS AS GLYN HAS SOMETIMES BEEN OVERSHADOWED BY OTHER JW MEMBERS-LOVE TO GLYN