Flash and the Pan

Burning Up the Night - Epic - 1992

Tracks: 1. Living on Dreams / 2. Vacuum of Emotion / 3. Ivy Love / 4. Searching for a Headline / 5. Bad Love / 6. Do It / 7. On the Level With You / 8. On My Way / 9. Burning Up the Night / 10. Only the Bad Survive / 11. Secret Eyes / 12. 3 Into 2


I just finished John Tait's very interesting and well-researched book about Harry Vanda and George Young. During the process of reading the story I obviously have been through welcome renditions of some of the music created by the two musical geniuses over four decades. Naturally, the Easybeats, but also Grapefruit, John Paul Young, Marcus Hook Roll Band and not least their somewhat overlooked climax as the studio group Flash And The Pan.

Flash And The Pan was in 1977 intended as yet another one-off for the Vanda and Young collaboration, but instead the concept lasted for 15 years over six albums. All these albums are of very high class and deserve to be known or rediscovered by much more people than what seems to be the case these days.

Vanda and Young actually created a whole new genre that was not really new wave, not really pop, not exactly rock and not rap (rap had not yet surfaced) but which had elements from all these styles. Most charateristic is probably the compressed vocals, usually sung / spoken by George Young. The two songwriters' flair for writing melodic and catchy melodies with intelligent lyrics is highlighted on all Flash and the Pan albums.

In the book Harry Vanda is quoted for saying that they possibly should not have released the last album, "Burning Up the Night" in 1992. This caused me to take the album in defense, since I definitely think it belongs in the collection, containing some very strong songs. Not least the thoughtful "On My Way," which might well be interpreted as a flashback of the two musicians' credits over four decades - a very strong track that also would have worked perfectly as a closing track.

Likewise "Secret Eyes" is a song you can not just let go. Melodic and mysterious.

"Living on Dreams" is classic F & P with a catchy beat and melodic chorus - perhaps not quite on par with "Midnight Man" - but close. The same description could apply for "Vacuum of Emotion", which perhaps has even more obvious commercial appeal. "Ivy Love" is perhaps not so marked, but does stand out in an exciting saxophone solo (a keyboard?). "Searching for a Headline" is an upbeat number, which should be noted for a very effective rock guitar solo. "Bad Love" with its funky beat may lead your thoughts towards Steely Dan - not a bad place to go.

Neither "Do It", "I'm On The Level With You" nor "Burning Up the Night" are among the duo's most memorable tracks, but the songs work quite well in the context. "Only the Bad Survive" is a rare blues from Vanda Young, again one must enjoy Vanda guitar solo work and "3 Into 2" is the album's clearest rocker - and thus somewhat surprising in the Flash And The Band concept.

Conclusion: Obviously not a bad album, though it does nok quite rank up with Flash and the Pan masterpieces such as the debut album, "Lights in the Night" or "Nights in France".

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