Try as I might, I honestly can’t recall how I came to know the music of Flash and the Pan.
I am pretty sure, however, that my old pal The Hose had something to do with it. After all, he and I seemingly were the only ones digging the eccentric sound of Flash and the Pan in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the early ’80s. I doubt they were getting any airplay or jukebox play.
Maybe we saw them on “Pop Clips,” a quirky music video show that aired on Nickelodeon. No, maybe it was on “Night Flight,” a much cooler show that aired on USA. Both shows were on in the days before the dawn of MTV. Really can’t say, though.
Flash and the Pan essentially was two Australians, Harry Vanda and George Young. They were in the Easybeats — “Friday On My Mind,” anyone? — in the ’60s.
Then they turned to producing a new band featuring Young’s younger brothers — AC/DC, with Angus and Malcolm Young.
In the late ’70s, Vanda and Young went back to work as musicians, putting out a sometimes moody, sometimes rocking, sometimes swinging, sometimes mysterious brand of pop. Most of their tunes feature deadpan, spoken vocals over well-crafted music.
Bruce Harris’ liner notes on their self-titled debut album said it all upon its release in 1979: “If you’re ready for the 1980s, Flash and the Pan are ready to take you there.”
And they did. To me, Flash and the Pan sounds as fresh today as it was 25-plus years ago.
This is from their third album. It’s about an assassin.
“Phil the Creole,” Flash and the Pan, from “Headlines,” 1982.