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Flaming Youth biography
Most Prog fans listen the name Phil Collins and immediately think in the great GENESIS and BRAND X drummer or make a grimace of pain remembering the late Genesis era, but almost nobody even mention the excellent 60's Psyche/Proto Prog band in which he was a clue member.

This is something really unfair, because this guys were doing a solid act which included not only orchestral sections, but even dared to make a tribute to Holst with their very clever piece inspired in The Planets by the mentioned artist.

The band was formed by the former keybordist of THE WARRIORS (with Jon Anderson) Brian Chatton who also added vocals, Ronnie Caryl on bass and vocals, Gordon Smith guitar, bass & vocals, plus of course Phil Collins in the drums, organ and vocals. Later and for a short period, Rod Mayall joined the band to play organ, adding a touch of free Jazz.

In 1969, Fontana Records released The band's only LP called Ark 2 which blends various styles and genres, from British Invasion to Proto Prog and Acid Psychedelia, passing through Melodic Rock, in other words a gem for lovers of early predecessors of Prog.

Despite the good material and critics, the commercial success eluded the album so FLAMING YOUTH made an attempt of reviving their career with the single Man. Woman and Child, but it was too late, the band dissolved.

All the original FLAMING YOUTH members had a long career, Phil Collins and Ronnie Caryl auditioned for GENESIS, but only Collins was recruited (the rest is history), Ronnie later performed with such artists as David Hentschel, David Bishop and his old friend Phil Collins.

Brian Chatton was member of a band called Boys Don't Cry and played with musicias such as Collins or Meatloaf among others. Last but not least, Gordon Smith became a respected session musician with a long career.

Despite the pass of time, Ark 2 remains as one of the finest examples of the fusion between Psychedelia and Proto Prog.

Iván Melgar-Morey - Perú

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Ark 2Ark 2
Mason 2006
Audio CD$21.99
$40.00 (used)
guide me, orion / from now on (immortal invisible) 45 rpm singleguide me, orion / from now on (immortal invisible) 45 rpm single
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FLAMING YOUTH discography

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FLAMING YOUTH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.62 | 7 ratings
Ark 2

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FLAMING YOUTH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.27 | 2 ratings
Guide Me, Orion / From Now On
0.00 | 0 ratings
Man, Woman and Child / Drifting
1.00 | 1 ratings
From Now On / Space Child


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ark 2 by FLAMING YOUTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.62 | 7 ratings

Ark 2
Flaming Youth Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

1 stars My late father was a great record collector of mainly Classical Music albums, but he also liked in the sixties to buy some of the singles which were played in some AM Rock and Pop radio stations in my city, mostly sung in English by some British bands and by some artists from Europe and the U.S. Most of these singles were bought by him for us, his sons, and we liked most of them very much. I remember than in the early seventies, when I finally learned to read, I liked to see the record labels of these singles to read who wrote the songs. I remember seeing the names there of Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley as composers of some British Pop and Rock Hit singles from the sixties. Yesterday, I was visiting youtube and I was looking for some rare albums which can be listened to there. So, I found this album there, and I listened to it. While I was doing this, I looked for information in the web about this album, and I found an article in Wikipedia about it and the band called Flaming Youth. I also found there the link to an unofficial website about this band and this album, and Wikipedia also linked Ronnie Caryl`s website address. So, I visited both websites and read about this band and this album

This band started their career under the name "Hickory" playing some covers of songs by other bands. By 1969, Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley wrote a concept and songs for a conceptual album about "space journeys", maybe inspired by the Moon Landing of July 1969. So, they offered "Hickory" the opportunity to record their project for an album. The band changed their name to "Flaming Youth" and recorded the album titled "Ark2" which was released in October 1969 in the Fontana label in the U.K., but it also was released in the U.S. and in other European countries. The album had some critical praises but not chart success. The band presented the album in concert sometimes, and even a TV programme was done about it in 1970. But that was all. The band split and Phil Collins some months later successfully auditioned for Genesis, but Ronnie Caryl also auditioned to fill the guitarist role in that band, but without success. Anyway, both musicians are still friends and since 1996-97 Caryl has played guitar in Collins`s solo bands.

This very rare album was really more interesting for listening to it while I was looking for it than when I was actually listening to it. With Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley being mostly composers of Pop Rock tunes and musicals, well, I really didn`t expect something Progressive from their work and from this band. The presence of a very young Phil Collins on drums (and some lead vocals by him in some tracks) is the main "hook" to listen to this album. But after listening to it, well, I can see why this album is almost forgotten. Yes. It is a conceptual album about "space journeys". It also has a "suite" titled "The Planets" like the classical music work which Gustav Holst composed, but this "suite" has nothing in common with the classical music work that Holst composed, other than the use of the titles. Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley only used the titles of the sections of that classical music work to compose their Pop songs around them, but that`s all. The music style of the album as a whole is simple Pop Rock from the sixties, somewhat "pretentious", with some "pompous" orchestral and choral arrangements added to the musical pieces recorded by the band. There are some Psychedelic influences in some places, but this conceptual album also sounds a lot of influence by musicals. and there also some good "Proto-Prog" arrangements played by the band, but there are very few "Proto-Prog" moments in this album. The members of the band were good musicians, but obviously Collins showed a lot of talent to play the drums since then and his vocals are also good but still sound a bit inmature.

This album, in my opinion, sounds very dated, and is mostly of historic interest to know and to listen to a young Phil Collins for maybe his first appearance on an album, and nothing more. Like the "From Genesis to Revelation"album by Genesis from the same year, this album, while showing some talent from Collins, still doesn`t show how his musical style would change and develop in the future. As history showed, his best place to be in a band was with Genesis, a band in which he developed his talent a lot and he helped to survive after Peter Gabriel left the band in 1975.


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 From Now On / Space Child by FLAMING YOUTH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
1.00 | 1 ratings

From Now On / Space Child
Flaming Youth Proto-Prog

Review by The Runaway

— First review of this album —
1 stars From now on, I am less of a fan, more of a Collinsist

Flaming Youth's second single, From Now On, with its b-side, Space Child, is a lost treasure, and not in the good meaning of treasure. Flaming Youth released 1 album and three singles and then they were never heard from again, and not even a small reunion tour, or gig. The Youth are known as Phil Collins' band prior to joining Genesis, thus getting the band some respect around the heavy researcher Genesis fans, and prog researchers in general.

While From Now On is more of a vocalic orchestral piece, Space Child is a more folky and traditional song.

Anyway, only one song is partially good, and this single is not only buried deep in the ground, but also locked in a big metal box, so you might not ever find it. The composition wasn't bad at all on this single, but the instrumentation of the songs and the commonality of the single made my rating go down to 1/5.


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 Guide Me, Orion / From Now On by FLAMING YOUTH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1969
2.27 | 2 ratings

Guide Me, Orion / From Now On
Flaming Youth Proto-Prog

Review by The Runaway

2 stars ORION!

If I may start this review with the words of the wise Ivan Melgar, "Guide Me, Orion sounds like the Mamas and the Papas, without the Mamas.", the previous words could not be any more correct, as Guide Me, Orion is an orchestral track, in its operatic feel and massive vocal overdubs, as well as a folky track with a folky sound.

From Now On starts with Brian Chatton's Hammond organ and "Flash" Gordon Smith's vocals, and then transforms into an vocalized opera part. The track is cathedral, and sounds like Genesis and Focus had made an album together.

I have to say though, both these songs don't really get to a place in my heart in which I can listen to them knowing I like them and that I'm prepared to put them on loop. The single is also very rare, and those who buy it are sure to be called collectors, so I finish this review giving this single, 2 stars out of 5.


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 Ark 2 by FLAMING YOUTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.62 | 7 ratings

Ark 2
Flaming Youth Proto-Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars God knows that I'm not a fan of Phil Collins due to the difference between his era as GENESIS frontman and the Gabriel years, much less for his solo albums, so when a former hippy uncle gave me a copy of the album, I accepted he gift (mainly for courtesy), but without really caring too much about it. Some months passed, and one day placed the CGD in the car, and listened it while going to work, when I reached the office all my prejudices were left behind and I was already a fan of the band.

Besides being a symphonic nut, I have developed a strong passion for the late 60's, specially for those bands who combined the experimental sound of Psychedelia with early forms of Prog........."ARK 2" is that and much more, couldn't really believe what I was listening, even loved the tracks where Phil takes the lead vocals, simply delightful.

Something else ,must be said, "Ark 2" is a conceptual album about a journey of an astronaut across the solar system and beyond, of course the lyrics has the influence of the times, with clear references to the search of peace and hope, and even when not as strong as they could be, the idea is interesting.

The album starts with the excellent vocal intro of "Guide me Orion", somehow like THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS without The Mamas, but suddenly the band bursts in fire with typical British Invasion sound, but in this case fused with Classical music and Rock, a very good start.

"Earthglow" is a radical change, starts melancholic and Baroque, with clear references of PROCOL HARUM but with better vocals, Gordon Smith does an outstanding job with an almost religious voice and Brian Chatton playing killer keyboards, incredibly beautiful song.

The beauty of Weightless is the contrast between the clearly Baroque organ intro that without advice turns into some sort of 50's Rock Boogie Boogie and Jazz instrumental with classical overtones, the guys were really versatile, but the stars of the track are Phil Collins in the drums and Ronnie Caryl who complement the outstanding rhythm section perfectly.

Now is the turn for the epic "The Planets" (In some versions each planet of the solar system is a song), there's little (if any) connection) with Gustav Holst's masterpiece but it's clearly inspired in this work, even the inner notes make clear references to each movement of the classical piece and as Holst they ignore Pluto.

Now lets talk a bit about the music, there's everything, from 12-bar Blues, to Classical - Orchestral, Jazz, Rock,Vaudeville, Acid Psychedelia, etc, and the "personality" of each planet is described by the music, we can find influences from THE NICE and almost every great musician of the 60's but with a unique touch. This 12 minutes track alone would pay the album.

Changes marks the point where the astronaut leaves the solar system and a turn for Phil Collins and Gordon Smith to take the lead vocals and both make a hell of a job, the sound is lost in the boundaries hat divides the late first British Invasion from early Psyche until Chatton starts to jam with the organ and crosses all the possible boundaries of Rock, but that's not all, the band enters into melodic (almost Symphonic) territory, one of the best songs of the album

"Pulsar" is a frantic track in the vein of THE NICE with Chatton adding an incredibly fast keyboard performance with Phil covering him all the way, another excellent track that leads to "Space Child", which after a keyboard and guitar intro allows us to listen Phil Collins singing some sort of early Symphonic with real feeling, a bit cheesy by moments but beautiful.

Almost every release has a weak point and "In the Light of Love" is the one from "Ark 2", this guys have proved they could play almost everything, but an almost Latin percussion song with Motown touches is not one of them, not so bad to press the skip button, but clearly bellow the level of the album.

"From Now On (Immortal Invisible)" presents Brian Chatton as a vocalist (he can also sing) and at least in the live video Phil Collins in the organ, extremely beautiful and melodic musical piece with full orchestra and chorus, a brilliant closer for "Ark 2".

Not a perfect masterpiece, but very far from some reviews that qualify them as a disaster, in my opinion an excellent addition for any Prog collection and for this reason worth 4 solid stars.


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Thanks to ivan_melgar_m for the artist addition.

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