Archive for the ‘May 2012’ category

Lights in the night, from long ago

May 31, 2012

We used to be tight, and then life took us in different directions, to different places.

We still are tight, but only two or three times a year, and then only for a couple of hours at a time.

Had the Hose and I been within reach of our records when we were together on Memorial Day, we might have put this one on.

I can’t recall how we came to know the eccentric sounds of Flash and the Pan in our corner of Wisconsin in the early ’80s. I doubt they were getting any radio or jukebox play. Maybe we saw them on “Pop Clips,” a quirky music video show that aired on Nickelodeon. Maybe it was on “Night Flight,” a much cooler show that aired on USA. Those were the days before the dawn of MTV.

Flash and the Pan was a studio group led by two Australians, Harry Vanda and George Young. They were in the Easybeats — “Friday On My Mind,” anyone? — in the ’60s. Then they went into producing, including 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 synth-pop with deadpan spoken vocals. It made you think, to say the least.

That is what emerges tonight from the sweet blue haze of time as we revive the spirit of a long-ago late-night FM radio show on which they played one side of a new or classic album.

“Make Your Own Cross,” “Lights In The Night,” “Let The Captain Beware” and “Atlantis Calling,” Flash and the Pan, from “Lights In The Night,” 1980. This is Side 2. It runs 20:09.

All interesting tunes, musically and lyrically.

“Lights In The Night” — “Talkin to the ceilin/Feelin kinda ill/If the radio doesn’t get me/The TV will” and “Throw away the feelin/Throw away the pill/If the bottle doesn’t get me/The thinkin will” … A song that oozes dread.

“Let The Captain Beware” — “East is East and how it used to be/But now it rage/Cos it want to turn the page” … It was 1980. Were we talking about the rise of radical Islam, and was the captain the West?

“Atlantis Calling” — “In Bimini there’s a temple that is rising from the sea/In Iberia the language of the Basques a mystery/The Tiahuanaco ruins, a secret closed to men/Canary Island legends, and don’t forget Stonehenge” … More cerebral than Donovan’s “Atlantis.”

Oh, yeah, and it’s dedicated to Bon Scott.