Song of the Week – Black and White, Flash


At the height of the prog rock era in the early ‘70s was a British group called Flash that was a poor man’s Yes. Not only did Flash imitate Yes style arrangements and Jon Anderson’s high register vocals, but they also featured former Yes musicians Tony Kaye (keyboards) and Peter Banks (guitar).

Flash released three albums in 1972-73, but bad vibes between Banks and the rest of the band led to a break up by the end of ’73.

Today’s SotW is “Black and White” from their middle album – In the Can.

“Black and White” is a showcase for Banks’ stellar guitar work. At 12 minutes, the cut risks becoming boring – but that never happens. The playing, singing and thematic changes keep it interesting throughout.

Keith Gordon posted this description of the song on his blog — That Devil Music: classic rock & blues remembered… – in 2013:

A wildcat reading of “Black And White,” from Flash’s sophomore effort In The Can, opens with Hough’s spry drumbeats atop which Banks layers on swirling, prog-psych guitar textures. A twelve-minute opus, the song is the perfect showcase for both the band’s individual talents and immense chemistry. The odd man out may be vocalist Colin Carter, who is too frequently (and unfairly) compared to Jon Anderson of Yes when, in fact, he has his own distinctive style. “Black And White” is as much a display of Carter’s impressive vocal gymnastics as it is for the guitar or percussion and, at nearly a quarter-hour of playing time, there’s a lot of virtuoso sounds emanating from the grooves.

Flash also produced a couple of noteworthy LP covers that would not fly today given the current sensitivity to the #MeToo movement. One showed a woman’s panties and another displayed hair falling over a shoulder, barely concealing a naked breast. (Both were far more provocative when the gatefold was opened!)

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Black and White, Parquet Courts


This post was originally mailed to my distribution list on October 4th.

A band that is currently on the indie rock circuit is Brooklyn (yes, another one from Brooklyn) based Parquet Courts. Their third album, Sunbathing animals, has been out for a few months now. I’ve been checking it out on Spotify and really enjoy the whole album. But “Black and White” stands out to me for its up tempo, post-punk drive – so it is today’s SotW. (It’s also the song they played on Seth Meyer’s late night show earlier this year.)

“Black and White” has a Velvet Underground/Television/Sonic Youth vibe to it – repetitive strumming and droning lead and a feedback laced freak out.

The lyrics communicate the difficulty and frustration of trying to balance how to continue to be fresh and creative when you’re trapped by the mundane tedium of constant touring. Here’s the second verse.

There’s a sinful sort of side of being
So contained, a bit like being lost
Stumbling through the background like a small town loner
Quietly a-whisperin’ my thoughts into my cupped hands
Folded and monk-like, at least that’s what I’ve always said
How does writing letters from the lonely margins feel
When there is no hair on my head?
Is the solitude I seek a trap where I’ve been blindly led?
Tell me, where then do I go instead?

Parquet Courts is another contemporary band worth keeping an eye on.

Enjoy… until next week.