After writing about Rockpile earlier this week, I got a note from The Hose.
We’ve been friends for more than 25 years now, well before either of us were married. We listened to lots of tunes back in the early ’80s. I taped my stuff for him, and vice versa.
“I still have the Rockpile release, ‘Seconds Of Pleasure,’ that you copied for me on cassette tape many moons ago. Equally interesting, on the flip side of the tape. … Flash and the Pan ‘Lights In The Night.’ Great tape.”
And I wrote back:
“Wow, what was I on? I would never put those two together today. Both good, but nothing alike.”
I promise not to mix them tonight, either. But we really did dig Flash and the Pan then, and we still dig them now.
Flash and the Pan was two Australian guys, Harry Vanda and George Young. They were in the Easybeats, who had a hit with “Friday On My Mind” in the ’60s. Then they turned to producing a new band featuring Young’s younger brothers — AC/DC.
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.
When I got a new turntable last summer, Flash and the Pan was one of the first groups whose albums I dug out of the basement.
It was disappointing to find that my 27-year-old vinyl copy of “Lights in the Night” had some nasty skips in a couple of my favorite cuts — the swinging “Captain Beware” and the moody “Atlantis Calling.” So it goes with old vinyl. Guess I just played the bejeezus out of those grooves back then.
I was able to salvage some other tunes, though. So, from Flash and the Pan’s second album …
“Lights in the Night,” an eerie meditation on banality and boredom, life and death, reality and surreality.
“Restless,” minimalist lyrics pondering Earth’s fate laid over a fast, exotic Mediterranean sound and beat.
Both from “Lights in the Night,” Flash and the Pan, 1980. (The link is to a double CD with Flash and the Pan’s first album. Released in 1997, it appears to be out of print.)
Play along with Rockpile at your own risk.