Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flash In Public AS01 2014

Peter Banks may well be the godfather of true progressive rock with one of the most powerful live shows captured as of today.
Brent Black/ www.criticaljazz,com
In the art rock family tree the roots are solid and occasional the branches overlap but Peter Banks influence remains constant no matter which ensemble setting is considered. Flash is the post YES amalgam of a bombastic self indulgent cerebral  onslaught that works amazingly well all things considered! Pretentious over the top showmanship can be a death sentence for most artists but for Peter Banks it was indeed his wheelhouse. Leaving Yes for what had been reported as "stylistic differences" we get a dramatic insight into the harmonic direction that YES may have taken were it not for circumstances beyond their control.
Flash was a most appropriate name for this formidable 4tet with the ability to bring the everything but the kitchen sink mentality and make it work night after night. Unlike live recordings twenty five years later that were "fixed" in the studio, the occasional warts and all presentation is refreshing and gives an almost organ feel to a band that was anything but subtle. One of the more ironic aspects to flash was the often overlooked fact that YES keyboard wizard Tony Kaye did appear on the first release. A proverbial catch 22 found Flash with immediate comparisons to the basic harmonic structure of YES and this would follow the band the rest of their all too short career. Peter Banks made no apologies for any harmonic similarities but clearly Flash was there own highly identifiable artistic voice in a forest of all too similar trees.

Flash may have easily been the best showcase for Banks. Colin Carter was an amazing vocalist that seems to have slipped quietly away into the "where are they now file" while drummer Michael Hough and bassist Ray Bennett rounded out a rhythm section that could stand their ground with a Bruford/Squire comparison which would be inherently unfair. In the liner notes Peter Banks stated, "to all the critics that feel a band needs to reinvent themselves every six months - I say Fuck You!...
Truer words were never spoken. Always pushing the musical envelope and delving into uncharted waters where bands like YES and early Genesis feared to tread, Flash is a cerebral and visceral treat for the prog rock enthusiast!

Tracks: Cold Cowtown Night; Small Beginnings; Black and White; Stop That Banging; There No More; Children of the Universe; Dreams of Heaven