Flash and the Pan (album)

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Flash and the Pan
Flash And The Pan - Flash And The Pan album cover.jpg
Studio album by Flash and the Pan
Released 1979
Genre New wave
Length 01:03:35
Label Ensign [Epic CBS/Sony]
Producer Harry Vanda, George Young
Flash and the Pan chronology
Flash and the Pan
(1979)
Lights in the Night
(1980)

Flash and the Pan was Flash and the Pan's 1979 debut album release. The album covers differed between the Australian, the international and United States, and UK releases (UK pictured). The track "And The Band Played On (Down Among the Dead Men)" — about the sinking of the Titanic — was released as a UK single, reaching No. 54 in September 1978. "Hey St. Peter" was released as single in the United States in 1979, and reached number 76 on Billboard Hot 100.

"Walking in the Rain" was later covered by Grace Jones, as part of her 1981 Nightclubbing album. The song was also recorded by South African icon Johannes Kerkorrel, who included it on his album Die Ander Kant in 2000.

Critical Reception[edit]

Reviews of Flash and the Pan’s 1979 self-titled album are ambivalent about the vocal style and lyrics, fascinated by the weirdness, but upbeat and sometimes glowing in their overall assessment. Alan Niester in the Globe & Mail calls the album “surrealistic in its detachment at times,” and “one of the strangest but ultimately finest records to surface in the seventies.” Niester concludes that the album is "the closest thing to a masterpiece we're likely to get this year, and you have to have it." [1] David Fricke in Rolling Stone notes unfavourably the “rampant punning” and “mind games” of the lyrics, but says that the songwriters, Vanda & Young, “never underestimate the simple joy of a good hummable tune.” The same reviewer goes on to say that the album is a “flawlessly executed operetta of applied rock & roll knowledge” [2] Steve Simels in Stereo Review calls the album a “minor pop masterpiece” but says that the synthesizer sound “verges on Eurodisco, with some tacky New Wave organ.” Simels describes the lyrics as “frankly melodramatic […] declaimed (in the verses) more often than sung.” [3] But Simels gives up trying to pigeonhole the record with, “Let’s just say that it’s excellent music and let it go at that.” Jon Pareles, writing for Creem says Flash and the Pan’s songs are “incorrigibly catchy” but he earlier notes the detachment of the vocal style and the insincerity of lyrics; like Simels, he counters his own criticism, saying, “[If] You want sincerity, go watch Merv Griffin.” [4] Simon Frith in Melody Maker factors the experience of Vanda & Young into the album’s “pop mastery, [which is] evident in the hooks, the minor chords, the insidious orchestrations.”[5] When Frith goes on to express doubts about the “bland monotone” of the vocals, saying that it “adds to the joke, but I’m not sure it adds to the pleasure,” he later adds, “But then I’m still listening to this LP, and Vanda and Young may be cleverer than I think, and make easy listening out of this robotic sound."

Reviews compared Flash and the Pan’s debut album to the group 10CC, albeit “early 10CC, before they took themselves seriously,” [5] and “10CC gone maniac.” [1] Alan Niester adds more comparisons: “a hungover Lou Reed” and “Tom Waits with a Jack the Ripper fetish.” Jon Pareles says the music is arranged “Brian Eno-style.” [4] David Fricke notes the “shameless pirating” of The Kinks' You Really Got Me on the song, “The Man Who Knew the Answer,” and compares the vocal narrative in “California” to that in The Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B” – the result sounding like “an outtake from David Bowie’s Low." [2]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Hey, St. Peter" - 4:21
  2. "Man in the Middle" - 3:14
  3. "Walking in the Rain" - 3:29
  4. "The African Shuffle" - 4:25
  5. "California" - 4:16
  6. "Lady Killer" - 4:10
  7. "The Man Who Knew the Answer" - 4:23
  8. "Hole in the Middle" - 4:16
  9. "And the Band Played On (Down Among the Dead Men)" - 4:47
  10. "First and Last" - 6:38
  11. "Yesterday's Gone - 5:04
  12. "Waiting for a Train" - 3:44
  13. "Something About You" - 3:27
  14. "Hey Jimmy" - 3:17
  15. "Money Don't Lie" - 4:04

Bonus Tracks on 1999 remastered version:

  1. "Down Among the Dead Men (Single Version)"
  2. "The African Shuffle (Single Version)"
  3. "First and Last (Single Version)" [from "The African Shuffle" UK Single B-Side]

The Australian LP contains the same songs but the first side runs differently - "Hey St. Peter" is at the end of the side; "The African Shuffle" and "California" come before "Man in the Middle" and "Walking in the Rain".[6]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Niester, Alan. “Flash and the Pan.” The Globe and Mail. June 16, 1979, sec. Inside the Sleeve: Pop.
  2. ^ a b Fricke, David. “Flash and the Pan.” Rolling Stone, July 12, 1979.
  3. ^ Simels, Steve. “Flash and the Pan: Two Rock-’N’-Roll Oddballs Drop Their Aliases.” Stereo Review, 1979.
  4. ^ a b Pareles, Jon. “Flash and the Pan.” Creem 11 (1979): 55.
  5. ^ a b Frith, Simon. “Flash and the Pan.” Melody Maker, July 21, 1979.
  6. ^ "Flash and the Pan Discography". Discog.Info.