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Flash - Flash CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.69 | 115 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 231

As we know, Peter Banks was an English guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer. He was the original guitarist of the bands Syn, Yes, Flash, and Empire. But, he became more known as the original guitarist of the famous progressive rock band Yes. But unfortunately, for him but certainly not for Yes, he became also known for being the first person to be fired from the ranks of Yes. When he was on Yes, Banks contributed with his lead guitar skills to the first two studio albums of Yes, "Yes" and "Time And A Word", was responsible for the name of the band and designed the original, pre Roger Dean, Yes logo. The problem begun when Anderson and Squire decided they wanted an orchestra backing the five musicians on their second album. It wasn't well received by Banks because the orchestral arrangements left the guitarist, as well as keyboardist Tony Kaye, with little to do, since strings replaced their parts almost note-for-note.

As soon as he left Yes, while he was occupying his time with mostly session work in the interim, Banks formed Flash, in 1971, with Chris Carter (lead vocals and percussion), Peter Banks (backing vocals, electric, acoustic and Spanish guitars, synthesizer and horn), Ray Bennett (lead and backing vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar) and Mike Hough (voice, drums, percussion and cymbals). The album had also the participation of Tony Kaye (synthesizer, Hammond organ and piano). There is some controversy over whether Kaye, who appeared on the first Flash album, was actually an "official" member of the group, or merely a guest. The confusion stems from the fact that Kaye is listed alongside the other members of the group on the back cover of the album. Still, interviews with Banks and Kaye confirm that, though Kaye was invited to join, he declined. So, he only participated on the album as a guest. With Banks on board, Flash released three studio albums, "Flash" and "In The Can", in 1972 and "Out Of Our Hands", in 1973, and two live albums, "Psychosync", in 1997 and "In Public", in 2013. But Carter and Bennett, released a fourth studio album in 2013.

It would may not become as a surprise that the music on "Flash" sounds quite much like to Yes. Besides, this was their debut album and represents their classic release too. "Flash" is an energetic progressive rock album in the vein of Yes' third studio album "The Yes Album" but with some differences and changes. Still, any lover of Yes will eat up many tracks on the album especially the lengthy tracks. There are also some shorter and relaxed tracks here, but it's of course in the long tracks the group really shines. The performance all over the album is good, and besides the excellent playing of both Kaye and Banks you'll also notice the powerful bass playing of Bennett, in the same vein of Squire. Whereas Yes has moved on considerably with the release of "The Yes Album" and "Fragile", "Flash" continued on from where "Time And A Word" had left off. So, somehow, we may say that "Flash" represents the continuity of the first Yes group and represents probably what Yes would be if Banks and Kaye would have continued as members of the band.

"Flash" is the eponymous debut studio album of Flash and was released in 1972. The album has five tracks. "Small Beginnings" is a very good track and it has a certain resemblance to "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" which opened "Time And A Word". Banks provides a good guitar work supported by a nice drum rhythm of Hough and Bennett's upfront bass lines. Kaye's brief organ solo work and Carter's falsetto complete the all picture. "Children Of The Universe" returns to the bombast of the opening track. It has a tight and cohesively structure and is catchy and complex enough to call the listener's attention. This is a suitably epic with some Banks impressive playing. "Dreams Of Heaven" is centred around a nice guitar riff and chant like double tracked vocals, it's really an opportunity for Banks in particular to demonstrate his technical skills. This is the least cohesive track of the three epics, in terms of arrangement, but it still is really captivating. Of the two remaining tracks, "Morning Haze" is a much simpler track with the bassist also supplying the lead vocal. It has a sunny Caribbean vibe thanks to the dual acoustic guitar picking, but I can see nothing special on it. "The Time It Takes" is a dreamy ballad that attempts to capture the pastoral quality of Yes' "Sweetness". It does however benefit from Banks' familiar weeping guitar lines and Kaye's tasteful organ playing.

Conclusion: "Flash" is the continuity of first Yes and represents probably what Yes would be if Banks and Kaye would have continued on Yes. Of the original line up, two members are present, Banks and Kaye. About the other three, if Bennett plays in the same vein of Squire and Hough can do Bill Bruford's style drumming at moments, Carter isn't Jon Anderson. Besides, Banks isn't Steve Howe as a performer and composer. But above all, it lacks to Flash the creativity and the vision of Anderson and Howe. I always thought both were the main responsible for most of the best tracks on Yes. However, "Flash" is a nice album with some great moments. Whilst this album demonstrates Banks' unwillingness to relinquish the past, it also confirms his not inconsiderable input into the sound that shaped Yes' formative years.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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