Tales From Dark Side: Greatest Hits

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Tales From the Dark Side: Greatest Hits and Choice Collectables 1974-1997 is really the ultimate Dragon compilation. Combining the full greatest-hits disc Snake Eyes on the Paradise with a second disc of delectable grab-bag material, this album contains virtually everything you need to know about this mythic New Zealand band. Disc One presents all of the slick hits that made this troubled and talented outfit one of the finest to roam the Australian continent in the '70s and '80s (a full accounting of which is included in the review for Snake Eyes). The second disc takes the listener deep below the surface with 19 tracks of B-sides, album cuts, live tracks, and other odds and rarities. Go back to the band's trippy beginnings and hear the Pink Floyd-meets-Santana vibe of the lengthy "Universal Radio," or the amazing cassette-player-recorded sound check of the band jamming on the Doors' "Soul Kitchen," with singer Marc Hunter ad-libbing new lyrics (here called "Final Years"). Apart from such alluring curiosities, the high points include the glossy pop/rock of "Shooting Stars" (released as a single in late 1977), the disco boogie of "O Zambezi" (title track of the 1978 album), and "The Empty Beach," which was penned by Cold Chisel keyboard player Don Walker. But perhaps tastier still is the handful of live tracks which really open the door to the past. There's the funky "Blacktown Boogie" (an ode to one of the toughest, rock & roll-loving suburbs of Sydney's notorious west side), an excellent cover of the Velvet Underground/Lou Reed classic "White Light/White Heat,," and a deuce of Dragon's second-echelon songs: the high-energy "Dreaded Moroxy Bind," and the new wave foray of "Body and the Beat." Packaged with two highly informative booklets about the band, Tales From the Dark Side is a thoroughly entertaining document of the life and times of Dragon.

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