Saturday, October 7, 2017

Barcelona Traction - 1982 - Nano

Barcelona Traction 

01. Pista Libre 3:40
02. Traction Rhapsody 1 7:32
03. A Trio (I Remember Bill) 7:10
04. Red Clay 6:16
05. Yesterdays 4:34
06. Blues In Elf 5:31

- Lucky Guri / piano, electric piano, synthezisers
- Jordi Clua / bass
- Francis Rabassa / drums
- Josep Maria Duran / piano
- Josep Maria Bardagí / guitar

Their 1975 debut had also a clear Jazz foundation but it was enough soaked in the Prog- Fusion of the epoch to deserve being considered as a genuine Fusion album. Soon after releasing the debut the band's mastermind keyboardist Lucky Guri left to Musica Urbana and although Barcelona Traction continued playing for a while in the Barcelona Jazz Clubs circuit with replacement keyboardist Josep Maria Duran, they eventually disbanded without having recorded any other album.

In 1981 the three original members Guri, bassist Jordi Clua and drummer Francis Rabassa reunited to release this last album in 1982, with collaborations by Josep Maria Duran and guitarist Josep Maria Bardagi.

By the early 80's the Prog atmosphere was gone and Guri was essentially a Jazz pianist, and so it reflects in this album. The Rhodes and Moog are mostly replaced by classical piano and soft synth patches. The bass and drums are much simpler, with the bass replaced by contrabass in a couple of songs. There are a few supporting guitar solos but always in a rather muted low-pitch sound, quite in the background.

To further make it clear that this is a Jazz album, only the first three songs are original compositions by Guri while the last three are covers of classic Jazz standards.

The opener Pista Libre has a very funky and groovy constant bass line on which the syncopated piano melody and several solos develop.

Traction Rhapsody No.1 is the kind of music you could hear in the lounge bar of a cruise boat, it starts with a very good melancholic piano intro and grows in intensity, towards the end it even has an interesting energetic section which can be considered as a short drum solo on the base of the other instruments.

A Trio is pure pre-bob Jazz. Piano, contrabass and drums played with brushes, transporting you to some dark Jazz Club in a basement of New York in the late night hours, the air filled with cigar smoke and scents of bourbon. Very good but certainly not Prog-Rock.

The next three songs are covers. Red Clay by Freddie Hubbard has the trumpet replaced by Rhodes for the melody and acoustic piano and some guitar for the solos.

Yesterdays is a standard from the 30's by Jerome Kern extensively performed by the likes of Art Tatum, Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitgerald. In the beginning it respects the original slow tempo but then shifts to a faster latin-like rhythm.

Finally Blues In Elf by Don Ellis is a quintessential blues with only the particularity that it's on a 11/8 beat. Like all good Jazz covers these last three pieces are played with an own take at them, not just recreating the originals.

Barcelona Traction - 1975 - Barcelona Traction

Barcelona Traction 
Barcelona Traction

01. Has Vist Passar Els Ocells
02. Modulacions
03. Estudi En Afro
04. Sudamérica
05. Foc I Pluja

- Lucky Guri / piano, electric piano, synthezisers
- Jordi Clua / bass
- Francis Rabassa / drums
- Pedrito Diaz / percussions
- Manel Joseph / percussions

Recorded in Barcelona at EMI-ODEON studios during May 1975
Liner notes: Schriften zur Literatur II, Hermann Hesse 1957

Barcelona Traction was a Spanish Jazz-Rock trio from Barcelona whose origins are to be found in the NEW JAZZ TRIO who in the early 70?s played in the Barcelona jazz clubs circuit and became a regular in perhaps the most famous venue La Cova Del Drac.

The pianist was Lucky GURI (real name Joaquim Lluis GURI) who incidentally in 1972 together with German saxophonist Peter ROAR from MAQUINA! (who's real name spelling was Rohr but adapted it because Spanish people had trouble to pronounce it correctly) and support from other MAQUINA! members recorded the album We Are Digging The Beatles with jazzified covers of The BEATLES songs. The original vinyl of this album is quite valued by collectors because shortly after its release it had to be removed from the market due to pressure from The Beatles management because the authors rights had not been properly handled (nowadays it has been reissued in CD by the Spanish label Picap).

Around 1974 NEW JAZZ TRIO?s pianist GURI and contrabassist Jordi CLUA decide to change their acoustic instruments by electric ones and recruit drummer Francis RABASSA who was coming from the rock band Los Gatos Negros, and in May 1975 they recorded their eponimous debut album Barcelona Traction.

The music is regular instrumental Jazz-Rock with the keyboards (piano, lots of Rhodes and Moog) taking the leading role on a very solid rythmic section supported by 2 guest percussionists. Nothing particularly groundbreaking but very good compositions combining strong melodies with great improvisation sections, and exquisitely performed.

Highly recommended for listeners who enjoy the jazzier and more accessible side of Jazz-Rock/Fusion.

In July 1975 they performed at the mythical (for Spanish standards) 1st Canet Rock Festival with very good critical acclaim (a short excerpt is available in YouTube).

However in 1976 Lucky GURI left to MUSICA URBANA and while BARCELONA TRACTION continued playing concerts with replacement keyboardist Josep Maria DURAN they did not record any new album and finally disbanded in 1977 with CLUA and RABASSA moving to the band of Catalan singer-songwriter Joan Manuel SERRAT and later to the Fusion band TEVERANO with whom they released their eponimous only album in 1981.

In 1982 the original line-up with GURA, CLUA and RABASSA rejoined to release a last album Nano which moved away from the rock side of Jazz-Rock and instead focussed on proper jazz with some elements from funk and music-hall music.

Lucky GURI continued his career concentrated in jazz and became one of the most highly regarded jazz pianist in Barcelona, his popularity boosted by his regular performances in Catalan TV shows.

The eponymous debut album by this Spanish trio can be probably better defined as Electric Jazz than as Jazz-Rock, but it can still be very groovy and nearly rocking at times. We have a very solid rhythmic section with Jordi Clua at the bass and Francis Rabassa at the drums supported by 2 guest percussionists, while all the melodic and soloing work is taken care by keyboardist Lucky Guri, with predominance of acoustic piano and Rhodes and some Moog here and there for the atmospheres and some lead lines. It is completely instrumental.

The music is very accessible and melodic and conforms for the most part to classical jazz structure with alternating melodic lines and improvisation, but it shows strong and tasteful musicianship and it is performed skillfully. Actually Lucky Guri continued his career focusing on proper jazz and became perhaps the most respected jazz pianist in Barcelona.

The opener 'Has vist passar els ocells' (You have seen the birds passing) is perhaps the worst song from a prog listener perspective, with a very sweet and accessible, relaxed- tempo melody and improvisation in Rhodes. This could be played in a cruise boat. Still it contains quality details in particular in the apparently simple but subtly great rhythmic section.

'Modulacions' is proper modern jazz. It starts with 2 minutes of groovy piano introduction after which powerful and syncopated drums and bass join, and gradually develop into a fast jam with a great piano improvisation ending in typical jazz structure with a coda to the melody for the last half minute.

'Estudi en Afro' has another beautiful piano intro until the rhythm section enters to form a pattern of alternating 7/8 and 4/4 beats on which Guri deploys more the synth for the melodic lines and soloing. Around the middle it gets groovier with the addition of latin-like percussion and a Rhodes improvisation and ends again with a coda back to the main melody.

'Sudamerica' has many interesting tempo changes, it starts with soft Rhodes and soon drums and bass join forming an accessible mid-tempo tune alternating melody and improvisation, but as from 2m00s the structure gets more complex with constant tempo switching between slow and fast, some wah-wah bass soloing and a gradual crescendo ending up with frantic piano soloing. Great stuff.

The closer 'Foc I Pluja' (Fire and Rain) is a very loose interpretation of the song by James Taylor and probably the most adventurous track. After an atmospheric introduction the bass starts a simple and repetitive but very catchy line and the melody is introduced in Rhodes, but quickly develops into a long improvisation. Around 5m15 we have a melodic break and a return to improvisation, this time with added percussion, and a final melodic break returning to the atmospheric introduction theme and song melody line.

There is nothing groundbreaking in this album and it will not appeal to listeners looking for the more complex or heavy side of Jazz-Rock, but I find it a real pleasure to listen to and I highly recommend it to those who can enjoy straightforward but impeccably composed and performed Jazz-Rock leaning more to the Jazz that to the Rock.

Peter Banks - 1973 - Two Sides of Peter Banks

Peter Banks 
Two Sides of Peter Banks

01. Visions Of The King (1:23)
02. The White House Vale (7:13)
- a. On The Hill
- b. Lord Of The Dragon
03. Knights (6:14)
- a. The Falcon
- b. The Bear
04. Battles (1:38)
05. Knights (Reprise) (2:11)
06. Last Eclipse (2:25)
07. Beyond The Loneliest Sea (3:06)
08. Stop That! (13:47)
09. Get Out Of My Fridge (3:20)

- Peter Banks / electric and acoustic guitar, ARP, Minimoog, and Fender piano
- Jan Akkerman / electric guitar (1,4,6,8,9), acoustic guitar (7)
- Ray Bennett / bass guitar (3-5,8,9)
- Phil Collins / drums (4,5,8,9)
- Steve Hackett / electric guitar (5)
- Mike Hough / drums (3)
- John Wetton / bass guitar (5)

Talk about an eclectic album! Ex-Yes and Flash guitarzan Peter Banks really spilled his beans here , putting together a VERY original album with his mates from Flash (no Yes members invited, ah, such bitterness!!!) and a few choice guests: the fuzzy bass of John Wetton , the rythmic gymnastics of "Uncle" Phil Collins (back in the days when he was a gloriously talented drummer) and , last but not least, the unique guitar styles of Steve Hackett and Focus' Jan Akkerman (back in the days when he was a gloriously talented guitarist). With all this supremo talent , Banks sort of takes a back seat . "The White House Vale", "Knights" and mostly the full tilt improvised gem/jam "Stop That"are the highlights here, giving the guests a chance and a platform to let down their fairly long hair and just rip! Yeah, this is not your "perfect prog produced to perfection master opus" but it has a charm that has stood the test of time and still ellicits smiles, cheers and the occasional goose bumps. In many ways, the album's black, white and grey cover really sets the mood as this is no technicolor masterpiece! It's raw, slutty, dirty, visceral, angry, moody and My, my, that Akkerman could certainly play a mean guitar! Perhaps not a classic but definitely a showpiece for some inspired playing and a rare glimpse into Banks' rather odd career.

This album was recorded at the same time as FLASH`s "Out of Our Hands" album in 1973. In interviews the late Peter Banks said that the record company wanted a solo album from him, so he recorded this album during the nightime while the "Out of Our Hands" album was recorded during the daytime. I think that for Banks this working schedule could have been a hard time having to complete two albums working on them almost all the time at the same time. So, in my opinion, this is reflected in the content of his solo album, an album which sometimes looks and sounds more like a collaboration with guitarist Jan Akkerman from Dutch band FOCUS, more than really being a solo album by Banks. At almost the same time, Banks was also playing some gigs with a part-time band called ZOX AND THE RADAR BOYS, a "jam band" which also included Phil Collins on drums, plus Ronnie Caryl on guitar and three other musicians whose names I don`t remember now. So, maybe this was the reason Collins appeared in this album during the time he was playing wiht Banks in that "jam band". Anyway, Banks said that he had great fun while recording this solo album.
This album sounds more like a collection of improvised instrumental musical pieces, or at least, some pre-composed musical ideas which were augmented in the studio with improvisations while recording the album. There are some very good guitar collaborations and interactions between Banks and Akkerman, sometimes using acoustic guitars playing some Classical Music arrangements. Banks also shows why he was considered as a very good guitar player with his very personal style of playing the heavy parts of the songs, also using some complicated chords in some parts and also playing some very good lead guitar parts.

This album also was like a "Progressive Rock Star Session" due to the appearances of John Wetton on bass, Steve Hackett on guitar (in a very brief and in an almost "cameo apperance"), Phil Collins on several tracks (with his drums playing being particularly very good and present), plus two of Banks` bandmates in FLASH Mike Hough and Ray Bennet.

I don`t know if this solo album was released before "Out of Our Hands", but it seems that FLASH was in their last days as a band anyway, so maybe the record label wanted to give more support to Banks as a solo musician, so they asked him to record this solo album, but it was not as successful as expected. Unfortunately, FLASH broke up as a band during a tour in the U.S. in 1973 and Banks` musical career was not very successful for the rest of the seventies, a time during which he tried to form another band called EMPIRE which could not get a recording contract. Fortunately, in the nineties he became more active with his solo career recording and releasing several solo albums and also playing some concerts with a band called HARMONY IN DIVERSITY. 

Flash - 2013 - In Public

In Public

01. Small Beginnings (8:36)
02. Black And White (12:23)
03. Stop That Banging (4:10)
04. There No More (8:45)
05. Children Of The Universe (8:43)
06. Dreams Of Heaven (24.54)

- Peter Banks / guitar, ARP synth, backing vocals
- Ray Bennett / bass, backing vocals
- Colin Carter / lead vocals
- Michael Hough / drums, percussion

Recorded Live on January 21, 1973 At Cowtown Ballroom, Kansas City

Late guitarist Peter Banks turned quite a few heads as an exceptional guitarist when he burst onto the scene during the initial manifestation of the progressive rock outfit, Yes. But due to artistic differences he left the band in 1970, and subsequently formed Flash, which was a quartet that illustrated stylistic similarities to Yes. The band released three albums from 1971-1973 and more or less developed a loyal following but never enjoyed widespread success. However In Public features the unit operating in hyper-mode, and signifies rare recordings, capturing the unit from a live performance in 1973 at a Kansas venue. In the album liners, composed a month before his untimely passing on March 7, 2013, Banks aptly sums up the band's raison d' etre by stating, "Despite all the usual accusations of pomposity and self-indulgence leveled at progressive rock, Flash has a vibrancy and optimism that transcended all the stereotypes of seventies rock music." 

The musicians' enthusiasm radiates throughout the live event. And on what could be deemed as their signature song "Small Beginnings," Banks' versatility and marksmanship comes to the forefront. He steers the piece with upper-register and highly melodic chord developments that underscore Colin Carter's fervent and harmonious vocals. Here, the quartet morphs a circular motif into a linear series of progressions atop drummer Michael Hough's rumbling and sweeping patterns. They shift the parameters as Bank's steps on the distortion pedals to heighten the intensity. He even quotes from Rossini's "William Tell Overture" via burning licks in unison with the rhythm section, and fuses subtle volume control-based shadings and succinct harmonics with improvisational ferocity. 

The recording quality on this newly unearthed gem is rather good and lucidly showcases Flash's prowess as an electrifying live act. This album should be deemed essential for the band's followers and admirers of Bank's magnificent guitar faculties. It will also serves as a noteworthy compilation album, especially for those who never delved into the ensemble's legacy.

Flash - 2013 - Flash Featuring Ray Bennett And Colin Carter

Flash Featuring Ray Bennett And Colin Carter

01. Night Vision (6:31)
02. Hurt (9:30)
03. Something So Dark (7:16)
04. Manhattan Morning (5:30)
05. Into The Sun (8:23)
06. Grand Canyon (8:19)
07. Morpheum (4:57)
08. 10, Movies (4:54)
09. Richerd Of Venice (3:28)

- Colin Carter / lead vocals, rhythm guitar
- Ray Bennett / guitars, bass, producer

- Rick Daugherty / keyboards
- Mark Pardy / drums
- Paul Pace / drums

The duo Ray Bennett and Colin Carter got back together again around 4 years ago to work on a new album and play live. The result is Flash Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter (2013) (what a terrible name for an album), released by Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records in May. The album was recorded in Nevada, the USA and it was produced by Ray Bennett himself.

Together with Ray (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, bass, keyboards and percussion) and Colin Carter (vocals and guitars) we have the musicians Rick Daugherty (keyboards), Mark Pardy (drums) and Paul Pace (drums).

When track one 'Night Vision' begins one quite doesn't realize that it's been 40 years since they recorded their latest album, Out Of Our Hands (1973). The track is full of layered vocals in great 70's Prog style. Second track is quite a mystery. If you never heard it before you can actually think it's one of their own songs, but 'Hurt' is in fact a Nine Inch Nails song that got famous by the version Johny Cash did some years ago. This version is quite a good surprise.

'Something So Dark' and 'Manhattan Morning' pass without much fuzz. The latter is, in fact, a re-recording of the original song presented on their 3rd album. Here the voice of Colin Carter seems very tired. 'Into The Sun' brings back the interesting Flash. Great bass line and lots of vocals. 'Grand Canyon' follows with a weird beginning, more of an upbeat track with great guitars, but a bit too long for my taste.

The last 3 tracks are a bit shorter. Starting with 'Morpheum' that is an instrumental track with great emphasis on the guitars and charged with space synths. Then we have '10,000 Movies' with a great initial riff and a really interesting melody. 'Richerd Of Venice' closes the album as an instrumental track, based again on guitars but this time with a piano helping to glue everything together. But honestly it is a very weak piece to finish an album.

In general, Flash Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter (2013) is a regular album that ends up being a 50/50 relation. It has many great moments that praise their 70's heritage, but at the same time half of the album is too 'regular', nothing really special in it. It has some great bass lines, very interesting guitar moments too and some tracks shine with their own light, but that's pretty much it.

If you're a fan of the band's first three records you can go for it with a resting head.

Flash - 1997 - Psychosync


01. Small Beginnings
02. Room with a View
03. Children of the Universe
04. Dreams of Heaven
05. Dead Ahead
06. Psychosync

- Peter Banks / guitars, vocals
- Ray Bennett / bass guitar, vocals
- Colin Carter / lead vocals, tambourine
- Mike Hough / drums

Tracks 1 – 4 are from a live radio broadcast, June 18, 1972, WLIR FM Long Island, NY
Tracks 5 & 6 are from the Midnight Special TV show, recorded October 9, 1973.

Review by Ms. Kate Shawon

As you get older you realise that life can be so cruel, in not pointing out momentous events as and when they happen!

When I went to see Flash at Manchester's late, lamented Stoneground, it was the first gig I attended after leaving home. I knew of Peter Banks as one of the founding members of young, prog-rock darlings, Yes ( yes they were actually young once!). Flash were brilliant from start to finish. Obviously Banks was the star but the bass player and the drummer more than held their own. Only real weak link was vocalist Colin Carter, with his irritating vibrato. He sounded like he would be more at home teaching geography in a minor public school, than flirting with rock stardom. I am hoping it was he, who was predominantly responsible for the wussy lyrics too!

Peter Banks was a revelation! To this day I have not seen a more exciting guitar player and unless it is nostalgia tweaking my emotions, this should be apparent to anyone listening to this album. What set Banks apart from all the guitar greats I saw subsequently, was his love of simply playing guitar. I'm sure he enjoyed being famous for five minutes and I'm sure he would have enjoyed all the material trappings, which eventually fell to his Yes compatriots, as sustained fame led to personal wealth, but the sheer joy he obviously got from simply playing was something I have rarely encountered anywhere else. He was forever jumping around and pogoing (remember this was several years before punk) and he played his low slung Gibson 335, as if he was an urban guerilla brandishing an AK47! I was right at the front and at one point he jumped shoulder high and partly landed on me, saying "ever so sorry mate" and returning to the stage, having not dropped a single note! His ever frantic guitar playing frequently featured musical jokes and he was the first person I ever saw use a full pint of lager as a slide! Steve Howe, Banks's replacement in Yes may or may not have been, technically better than Pete, but his smug and self-conscious attempts to incorporate
Banks's humour into his playing, as in 'The Clap', never quite cut the mustard for me.

Banks's general irreverence and laddish behaviour, made it pretty obvious why his tenure with Yes had been short and precarious, bearing mind the apparent studious and abstemious nature of the other members. I would say however that the original Yes, who made just two albums always did a lot more for me than subsequent incarnations.

Some years after I was at this gig i embarked on a career in the music media, which meant that I met just about aeveryone who was anyone from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties. I became quite friendly with a number of 'rock stars' including subsequent member of Yes, Rick Wakeman, but I never met Peter Banks, which was a shame, because I'm sure I would have liked him a lot more than most (mind you he may well have thought I was a bit of a pr*t!)

As I said at the beginning, sometimes you just don't realise how momentous an event is at the time. I never thought that Flash wouldn't stay the course and that they would be pretty much over in............well a flash! Even more tragic was the fact that I didn't stop to think that maybe Peter Banks wouldn't take his place at the very top of the tree of great rock guitarists. Fact was, from that day to this I've never seen Banks again and that to me, is a personal tragedy.

I won't bore you with a track by track review as, if you're new to Flash, that wouldn't mean anything and if you're a fan you'll know them all anyway! All I will say is Flash are one of the great forgotten bands of progrock and this album captures them just as I remember them. The only reason for four stars is the sound quality which is variable (i suspect some of the tracks were bootlegs) and Colin Carter (sorry nothing personal Col). The booklet notes are written by Pete Banks and are amusing and enlightening.

Peter Banks you are a giant amongst rock guitarists and you are still a legend to me and my contemporaries (including, I suspect to Plug Kaye, who was at the gig with me, but whom I haven't seen for over twenty years!)

Flash - 1973 - Out of Our Hands

Out of Our Hands

01. Open Sky (0:40)
02. None The Wiser (King) (3:17)
03. Farewell Number One (Pawn) (1:37)
04. Man Of Honour (Knight) (4:45)
05. Dead Ahead (Queen) (4:38)
06. The Bishop (4:21)
07. Psychosync (4:50) :
- a) Escape
- b) Farewell Number Two
- c) Conclusion
08. Manhattan Morning (Christmas '72) (6:24)
09. Shadows (It's You) (3:20)

- Colin Carter / lead vocals
- Peter Banks / guitar, ARP & Moog synths, banjo, vocals
- Ray Bennett / bass, Mellotron, clavinet, piano, ARP synth, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Mike Hough / drums, congas, tabla

 What do chess and an interstellar messenger of peace have in common? Nothing, I'd venture, but it didn't stop Ray Bennett from laboring on this stellar concept album all the same. Like any FLASH album, the comparisons to early YES are invited and no doubt appreciated. There are plenty of moments here that'll transport you to strange new places, provided you're willing to put in the same amount of effort you did on "Tales of Topographic Oceans".
Bennett and Peter Banks in particular connect on some passages that click as well as Chris Squire and Steve Howe. It occurs to me when I listen to "Out of Our Hands" that this might be the lost YES album I've been looking for. Certainly it's closer to the mark than Steve Howe's Beginnings, In The Can or Two Sides of Peter Banks. Almost every song on here has some redeeming moment of magic, from the opening of "The Bishop" (which prefigures Gang of Four by at least a few years) to the tripping guitar lines on "Dead Ahead". Maybe I've grown used to Colin Carter's voice by now but he does seem better suited to the music this time, suggesting Jon Anderson's voice with clipped wings. Where Anderson soared, Carter is entrenched, holding steadfast in the midst of Banks' acrobatic leads and Bennett's bold bass lines.

The result is a style that produces some fine moments, including "Man of Honour", "Shadows" and delightful "Psychosync". As busy as Bennett is with writing most of the material and playing bass, his keyboard contributions are cursory, which results in some missing music. If sections feel like they need to be fleshed out on occasion, it's to be expected with FLASH. Their purpose was never to replace YES, but rather to build something different from the same foundation. Sadly, "Out of Our Hands" was their last album, and another avenue to nirvana was closed. This record (and, in fact the entire FLASH catalog) are well worth rediscovery -- the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Yesstory, in a manner of speaking.

Flash - 1972 - In the Can

In the Can

01. Lifetime (10:05)
02. Monday Morning Eyes (5:03)
03. Black And White (12:04)
04. Stop That Banging (1:50)
05. There No More (11:35)

- Colin Carter / lead vocals
- Peter Banks / lead guitar, ARP synth, vocals
- Ray Bennett / bass, vocals
- Mike Hough / drums, percussion

Obviously upset that Supertramp dared the bare-chest artwork on their Indelibly Stamped album, Flash decided to choose a slightly less tackier breast artwork, well in line with the just as tacky panty artwork of their debut album. Musically this album is much in the logical Yessian musical evolution, despite deeply missing the lack of organ and other keyboards of Tony Kaye, gone to found Badger (you may want to check that first album, before checking this one out). The other four members soldiered on courageously and managed a fairly good second album, despite Kaye's absence, but shared fairly evenly the songwriting, Banks (the so-called founder) only sharing one credit, while bassist Bennett taking 2.5.
As you can expect, the Flash soundscape changed direction a fair bit and this album is very guitar-oriented, but it's also shamelessly ogling at Banks' (and Kaye's) ex-colleagues' now successful works. It is actually a wonder that they resisted asking Roger Dean to work for them. Indeed, the group uses every Yes tricks in the book and manages not to be ridiculous, despite Bank's obvious frustrations of getting the boot before hitting the big times and trying to prove he could get the job done. What I mean here is that Flash's first two albums sound much more like Fragile or Yes album, than Time And A Word, when both Banks and Kaye where still both in Yes.

The opening 10-mins Lifetime has a definite Roundabout edge, at least when not considering the songwriter Colin Carter's vocals, but if you go past his voice, you'll find a Squire and Bruford-like rhythm (but obviously not as perfect) and a Steve Howe electric guitar style that Banks didn't have before starting this group. You'll easily guess that the short Stop That Banging is drummer Mike Hough-penned and is a drum pieces, but not even close to Bruford's piece on Fragile. Bennett's Monday Morning Eyes does stick out as being a little less derivative with an usual opening guitar line, but it's quite average, IMHO. The album's centerpiece is the 12-mins Black And White track, which definitely shows the gap between the master and the pupil. While still a decent track with plenty of Yes-born breaks and counterbreaks, it is at time laborious (even arduous) and sounds forced, especially when it comes to Carter's vocals; and in the middle section, the groups gets almost lost in their own backyard and Banks' use of the ARP Synth sounds like a soup-mixer. The closing and aptly-titled No More There (I know ;o))) will finish tiring your eardrums with Yessongs without having Anderson's voice in it, despite being the most ambitious track of the album.

I wonder how many copies Flash sold their albums solely because of the cover. As Tony Kaye moved on to Badger (investigate this also, as the debut is very worthy), Peter Banks finds himself alone at the commands (at the controls of an ARP that he doesn't), and here there are 10 min + numbers that try a little too hard at sounding like major league prog ala Yessauce. Still all Flash albums are worth a spin and an attentive listen, but despite the derivative music, it should please most Yes fans, much more than Druid or Starcastle. 

Flash - 1972 - Flash


01. Small Beginnings (9:23)
02. Morning Haze (4:32)
03. Children Of The Universe (8:55)
04. Dreams Of Heaven (12:57)
05. The Time It Takes (5:48)

- Colin Carter / lead vocals, percussion
- Peter Banks / acoustic, electric & Spanish guitars, melodica, ARP synth, backing vocals
- Ray Bennett / bass, acoustic rhythm guitar (2), lead (2) & backing vocals
- Mike Hough / drums, cymbals, percussion, voice

- Tony Kaye / organ, piano, ARP synth

FLASH was formed in London in 1971 when Colin CARTER (who served as a singer in the group led by Peter BARDENS before his CAMEL days) met YES guitarist, Peter BANKS, and soon after co-wrote the FLASH hit, "Small Beginnings" (#28 on Billboard). Ray BENNETT, who had known BANKS since early YES days, heard they were forming a band via his old friend and former bandmate, YES drummer, Bill BRUFORD, and was quickly recruited on bass. FLASH drummer, Mike HOUGH was found later after an advertisement was placed in the London weekly music paper, The Melody Maker. Tony KAYE, the first YES keyboard player, was a session player on their first album and not a permanent band member, as is often reported.

They released three albums with a sound much like early YES. The first FLASH album, a self-titled one, is a classic piece of 70's style Prog Rock, featuring long compositions, thick bass, twisty guitar, keyboard flash (hmmmmm), and complex YES-like arrangements."In The Can", released the same year, revolves around BANKS' guitar with a more dominant guitar sound. "Out Of Our Hands" is the last FLASH studio album and least good in comparison to its predecessors. There is also a live FLASH album called "Psychosync", that makes a nice addition to the collection. Though their three albums are still on the market after numerous reissues (most recently in 2009), they became equally noted and remembered for their phenomenal, high-energy live shows. 

After two and a half years of successful touring, FLASH disbanded. All four members later reunited in various combinations during the 70's to early 80's and some of the recorded output appears on Ray BENNETT's 2001 archive CD "Angels & Ghosts". By 1982 the FLASH members went their separate ways.

Late in 2009 they reunited. Although initially interested, after talks and lengthy consideration BANK and HOUGH were unable to commit. The new line-up will feature FLASH's songwriters and original members, Colin CARTER and Ray BENNETT sharing lead vocals, with BENNETT moving from bass to lead guitar. New members are Mark PARDY replacing drummer Mike HOUGH, Rick DAUGHERTY on keyboards and Wayne CARVER on bass.

Having been shown the door to slam by the rest of his Yes colleagues, Peter Banks spent a stint in Blodwyn Pig (most likely after Mick Abrahams had left) then built up his own group, made mostly from previous acquaintance though Yes, The Syn, Mabel Greer's Toy Shop etc.. No big names, except for Tony Kaye, that also had received the pink slip from Yes. Well Kaye was apparently never really a full-member of Flash, since he had his own projects to mind, including a David Bowie tour and his very own Badger group. So for this debut album, the line-up is your classic prog quartet, plus the singing belter. Released in early 72 on the small Capitol offshoot Sovereign Records with a shameless panty Hipgnosis gatefold artwork, the album was definitely aiming the charts, as did the album-opening track, released as a single. Actually, it did work somewhat as they were fairly successful in the US, where tons of kids bought the album mainly on account of the artwork.

It's quite obvious that Flash chose to open with their album capitalizing on their Yes heritage and Small Beginnings is a good shot at it, as you could almost believe it, if it wasn't for Carter's voice. As mentioned above, this track would see a shortened version released as a single and shot up to n°29 in the Billboard. It's fairly clear as well that Banks listened intently to the Yes albums that his former group did after his leaving and he obviously felt he had something to prove on this and the next album. Indeed most of the tracks on these two albums have more to do with Yes Album or Fragile than they had with Time And A Word or the Yes debut, which might have been less obvious. Morning Haze is a mostly acoustic ditty with almost delicate harmonies (I'm not a fan of Carter's voice or his dumb lyrics). The 9-mins Children Of The Universe returns to the Yes mould, mainly on the strength of Kaye's organ (both him and banks also play the ARP synth), but both Benett (bass) and Hough (drums) are capable as both had previous jazz-band experiences.

Flash tends to get compared to Yes, which is not strange since two ex-Yes members are in this group; Peter Banks and Tony Kaye. When Banks was replaced by Steve Howe he formed this group and Tony Kaye (who was replaced by Rick Wakeman at the same time) joined him.

There are some similarities between Flash and the first two Yes albums but it also bears some strong similarities to The Yes Album, I would say. Especially on the first track here, Small Beginnings, this song is not very far away from Yours Is No Disgrace in its style. The music of Flash also sometimes reminds me of the band Nektar.

The guitar work of Peter Banks is very good here, perhaps even a bit flashy at times, and it has clearly improved compared to his playing on Time And A Word. However, Banks guitar sound is not at all as distinctive and unique as that of Steve Howe. Tony Kaye has also expanded his horizons, while coming from only playing Hammond organ and piano he also plays a Moog solo in Children Of The Universe. Certainly not Wakeman-flash, but it adds to the piece.

Another similarity with Yes is in the tendency towards Yes-like harmony vocals. However, the actual lead vocals are very different compared to those of Jon Anderson, which gives some uniqueness to this group. There is nothing wrong with the vocals here, but they are not very distinctive (again, similar to the vocals by Nektar).

The material is melodic and strong and everything is very well performed. Judged as a successor to Time And A Word this is indeed a very good album. But in comparison with The Yes Album, Fragile and Close To The Edge, however, this falls very far behind - but then again, in my opinion, almost everything falls very far behind those incredible masterpieces! While Yes evolved with each subsequent album, Flash seems to have been stuck somewhere between Time And A Word and The Yes Album. But that is not a bad place to be stuck in and they do also add their very own touch to it making it worthwhile for all Prog fans.

Flash still holds up pretty well in the extended Yes family-tree among band like The Syn, Badger, Asia, GTR, ABWH, Conspiracy, etc. But they are not at the very the top of my Yes-related top list.

If Peter Banks had stayed in Yes and Steve Howe had never joined, this album gives us a very good idea of what Yes would have sounded like. And what we hear is very good. But still, luckily Steve Howe did join Yes and the rest is history, as they say.

This album is recommended for Yes fans and fans of early Symphonic Prog. It took some time for me to realise how good this was, but now I see its beauty.

Bango - 1970 - Bango


01. Inferno No Mundo 02:08
02. Mas Senti 03:02
03. Rolar como um barco 02:57
04. Motor Maravilha 02:53
05. Marta, Zéca, O Padre, O Prefeito O Doutor E Eu 01:48
06. Sonho Rocha 02:40
07. Geninha 03:26
08. Unicamente 03:08
09. Vou Caminhar 02:43
10. Ode To Billy 04:20

Bass Guitar, Vocals – Elydio Barros
Drums, Vocals – Max Pierre
Electric Guitar – Fernando Borges
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Aramis De Barros
Organ, Piano, Vocals – Roosevelt Tadeu

When the Brazilian band Os Canibais went into the studio to record its second album, they left the Jovem Guarda (the country’s answer to beatlemania) days behind and came out with a new name, Bango, and a new sound – that comprised psychedelia, hard rock, pop, soul and even Brazilian country music. Bango’s only LP was released in 1970 but besides being well recorded and having an inspired repertoire, had little success.

After a few concerts, the group broke up and the record went into obscurity (later, some of the band members became notorious producers for Brazil’s biggest record companies). With the years, Bango self-titled album (the band’s name is an old slang for money but also a plant used to make hashish) became a legend in its own right and started to gather attention. The reason is obvious: songs like Inferno no mundo and Motor maravilha are killer tracks with amazing use of fuzz and wah-wah, gritty Hammond organ sounds, loud drums, catchy chorus and crazy moods that listeners will dive in even if they don’t understand the (Brazilian Portuguese) lyrics. And, of course, its beautiful monstrous cover art.

On the other eight songs of the LP, the band goes from hard psych to soft ballads, from irreverent to phantasmagoric, from Heaven to Hell. If you like bands like Os Mutantes and the lost Brazilian bands from the late 1960s/early 1970s like Spectrum, Liverpool and A Bolha, you will definitely dig Bango! This forgotten gem have been re-released once by a German label but was out of stock from years. Portugal’s Groovie Records is now putting Bango’s LP out with an exclusive and never before released bonus track, a cover of Elephant’s Memory Mongoose.

Pretty solid and good psychedelia from Brazil. Most of the songs have Portuguese lyrics but there are also parts where they're performing in English. The quality of the songwriting is enjoyable but I don't like "Rollin' Like a Boat" that much. It's the weakest song on this quite short LP. The rest of the material is more or less entertaining hard psychedelic rock.

If you're not afraid of the fact that you don't understand the lyrics this album is worth checking out. Bango's lone LP is an enjoyable totality but I don't think it's a total jackpot. The original pressing of this LP is extremely rare and valuable so if you want to get this one to your record shelf you might wanna consider getting one of the reissues.

Bang - 2011 - Death Of A Country

Death Of A Country

01. Death Of A Country 10:07
02. No Trespassing 5:10
03. My Window 4:46
04. Life On Ending 4:18
05. Certainly Meaningless 3:32
06. Future Song 3:59

Bass, Lead Vocals – Frank Ferrara
Drums – Tony D’Iorio
Engineer – Karl Richardson
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Frank Gilcken

This was to be Bang's debut album in 1971 but was rejected by Capitol for sounding to dark and noncommercial, so they started over and made their debut album, which oddly, sounds like more of the same, though they did get a minor hit out of "Questions". I'll admit this album lacks some of the hooks and hit potential found on their S/T but it rocks just as much and deserves a place in their discography as their true debut.
Nowhere near as good as the "official debut", but they definitely show signs of positive things to come. The opening spoken word part of the first track makes Spinal Tap look like a serious band, but what comes after is a ten minute opus of fun heavy psych with a groovy environmental message. The remaining songs have their merits too - especially Future Song and Certainly Meaningless. Definitely not as good as the Bang album, but I'd still rank it higher than Mother/Bow To The King or Music.

Bang - 1973 - Music


01. Windfair
02. Glad You're Home
03. Don't Need Nobody
04. Page Of My Life
05. Love Sonnet
06. Must Be Love
07. Exactly Who I Am
08. Pearl And Her Ladies
09. Little Boy Blue
10. Brightness
11. Another Town

The Lost Singles
12. Slow Down
13. Feels Nice
14. Make Me Pretty

Drums, Percussion – Bruce Gary
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Frank Glicken
Lead Vocals, Bass, Piano – Frank Ferrara
Piano – Pete Sears

As is so often the case with bands of this era, after hitting the scene with a bang (no pun intended) they blow their load after a few releases, and sometimes manage to outstay their welcome with label changes. Though this album still has it's moments, the writing seems to be on the wall for them, and it is fitting they packed it in after this one. Similar in style to their previous albums, but with a barely tolerable level of commercialism. Get past that, and you can find a few glowing embers amid the ashes.

Bang - 1972 - Mother / Bow To The King

Mother / Bow To The King

01. Mother
02. Humble
03. Keep On
04. Idealist Realist
Bow To The King
05. No Sugar Tonight
06. Feel The Hurt
07. Tomorrow
08. Bow To The King

Bass, Vocals – Frank Ferrara
Drums – Bruce Gary (tracks: A3 to A4)
Drums, Percussion – Duris Maxwell
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Frank Gilcken
Percussion – Jeffrey Cheen
Backing Vocals – Clydie King, Donny Gerrard, Shirley Mathews, Vanetta Fields

Bang's 1972 release Mother / Bow to the King is definitely their masterpiece. It's also of the the best unknown Proto-Metal albums of the 1970s. These guys do the primordial stomp and wail to perfection. Idealist Realist is a pure slice of unadulterated Heavy Metal thud, bluster, and swaggering attitude. It has some of the heaviest chordal guitar slabs outside of a Sabbath or Zeppelin album. Bow To The King is simply smooth and amazing. And their heavy cover of The Guess Who's No Sugar Tonight simply has to be heard. If You love original Heavy Metal, or love Hard Rock this album is for you.

Bang's second album, 1972's Mother/Bow to the King is not as heavy as their debut from earlier the same year but still delivers really good 1970's proto-metal. The funkiness of "Keep on" is just brilliant and it's the A-side, or the first four songs, that is the heavy part of this album. Not that the B-side, or the last four songs, are bad but they are more hard pop than hard rock, just listen to the na-na-na in "No Sugar Tonight". 
Still worth one spin or two if you like 70's hard rock.
Rock hard!

Bang - 1971 - Bang


01. Lions, Christians 3:58
02. The Queen 5:24
03. Last Will & Testament 4:09
04. Come With Me 4:18
05. Our Home 3:26
06. Future Shock 4:38
07. Questions 3:50
08. Redman 4:58

Bass, Lead Vocals – Frank Ferrara
Drums – Tony D’Iorio
Engineer – Karl Richardson
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Frank Gilcken

Absolutely crushing Proto-Metal from 1971 here. This album is nearly as good and as heavy as Black Sabbath's Master Of Reality, but time has elevated Black Sabbath to the status of Gods while Bang languishes in obscurity, and that's a shame. There are some true Metal piledrivers here, and some surprisingly intelligent themes. For example how many Metal songs do you know about the Christians being fed to wild beasts in the Roman arena? That's the subject of the crushingly powerful "Lions, Christians" (Bang's best song, and easily one of my own Top 25 Metal songs on the 70s, it's that great.) But that doesn't being to cover every great track here, there's also the bombastic "Future Shock" and the thunderous "The Queen", an epic about a prostitute that specializes in kinky clients. One of the things that make "Bang" so great is the consistent high quality of the furious Guitar riffing throughout, and the Drumming, which is also first rate and thunderous throughout. If you're a fan of Rush or Black Sabbath's debuts you should love this album. Highly recommended.
This is the 1st album by the underrated band, Bang. The album is one of the greatest albums of the early 70s when it comes to Heavy Metal scene at its beginnings and it is by a power-trio which makes it so magnetic to music fans who mostly admire these types of bands.
Musically, the album is a Heavy Metal masterpiece that is not your usual Blues-driven nor Heavy Psych early 70s or late 60s one. The composition is just screaming Heavy Metal, yet not complex. When talking about the instrumental work, let's just say that these guys are WAY WAY WAY better than many of the early to mid 70s giants of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
Lyrically, the album suffers (on just few tracks) the lack of mystery and dark themes of Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. So, the listener is split in half lyrically i.e. some tracks, you are mesmerized whereas on other tracks, it is your usual early 70s lyrics that are fitting the Hard Rock genre more than the Heavy Metal genre.
All in all this is one of the greatest early Heavy Metal albums every Rock N Roll in general and Heavy Metal fan specifically should listen to before the soul leaves the body.