Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, "Dragon Song" (1971)


Staying with John McLaughlin and things fusion one more week, British keyboardist Brian Auger's first album with his Oblivion Express band offers some slight pop sweetening and really makes the instrumental by McLaughlin gleam. Auger's take on "Dragon Song" (also on the Devotion album) is not so much dreamy and textured as streamlined and propulsive, not so much intuitive as professional, like the engine of transport the name bears. Among other things, the Oblivion Express included drummer Robbie McIntosh, later of the Average White Band, who in turn would later bring in Oblivion Express guitarist Jim Mullen to that project. I might like the McLaughlin original a little better now, but in high school daze the whole Brian Auger album this song is found on became an obsessive favorite. "Dragon Song" stays well within the bounds of what it intends to be, a straightforward blast, with a churning, catalyzing bass figure that sends it hurtling down those tracks. Mullen steps in and peals off a solo I seem to know still note for note. Then Auger has his turn on a Hammond organ (or similar keyboard). Hey, didn't we have a time doing it this way. A bewitching riff, a tight band, solos, music for chair-sitting and head-bobbing at home. With Brian Auger's discography running now into the dozens of albums (none of which I know after the mid-'70s) it's fair enough to call him a professional in the business. But if there is formula and calculation to this, that doesn't make it any less effective. Although it may account for why I lost interest in him relatively early.

1 comment:

  1. Auger's take on "Dragon Song" (also on the Devotion album) is not so ...