Flash were an English progressive rock group formed in August 1971 by the former Yes guitarist Peter Banks, who passed away in March 2013, and vocalist Colin Carter. Bassist Ray Bennett and drummer Mike Hough completed the line-up. The band recorded three albums: Flash (1972), In The Can (1972) and Out Of Our Hands (1973). Ex-Yes member and keyboardist Tony Kaye appeared on the first album. Flash disbanded during an American tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico in November 1973. At this point relationships inside the band had soured, particularly between Banks and the rest of the band. It was suggested that they would find a replacement for Banks and carry on. They decided to stick it out because of their excellent musical chemistry, but in the end, the ever-increasing tensions resulted in the band's abrupt demise.
In the early eighties, with all ex-Flash members now based in Los Angeles, a reformation was attempted but failed. Banks and Bennett kept playing together informally until they fell out again. Recently, Bennett and Carter have been working together again under the name of Flash. Hough was initially involved, but later dropped out and there was, briefly, talk of Banks taking part but in the end Banks fell out again with Bennett and Carter and was excluded. Bennett and Carter posted new Flash material on their website in 2009. Titles of the new songs were Grand Canyon, 10,000 and How The West Was Won of which the latter was changed later on to Into The Sun. In August 2010, the band made their first public appearance since the break-up, a 'live dress rehearsal' in preparation for an upcoming mini-tour. The line-up consisted of Bennett (guitars, vocals, bass, keyboards, percussion), Carter (vocals, rhythm guitar), Wayne Carver (bass, vocals), Mark Pardy (drums) and Rick Daugherty (keyboards). Flash made their official reunion debut headlining the International ProgDay Festival in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on the 4th of September 2010.
Peter Banks' death in March 2013 ironically occurred just before the release of the first Flash album in forty years. It was reported that Banks heard three tracks from the upcoming album before his sudden death, and he liked them. This isn't that strange because in many ways the compositions on this album refer to the music made back in the seventies. The musicians who participated in the band's line-up in 2010 stayed together and managed to create an album that could have easily been recorded after the release of Out Of Our Hands (1973). Many tracks on this comeback album contain layered harmony vocals in the great progressive rock style of the seventies. On hearing Colin Carter's voice ex-Yes singer Jon Anderson immediately came to mind. Maybe Carter's voice is a bit hoarser, but still the resemblance is clear.
As for Bennett you could say that he performs some great solos on the guitar. He shines even more on the bass guitar sounding like a young Chris Squire. This often moves the music towards the famous Yes sound. Maybe the keyboards sound less spectacular than Rick Wakeman's on the many Yes albums, but this doesn't mean that they aren't important. They certainly are, and they provide a rich sound throughout quite similar to a classical orchestra.
You might say that the nine tracks on Flash Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter aren't very original, but they're still of a very high level. Some of the compositions were written long before the album was recorded like Hurt. This is in fact a Nine Inch Nails song that got famous by the version of Johnny Cash some years ago. However, you can't hear that at all because they transposed it into a kind of Yes piece! Owners of the band's earlier albums know that Manhattan Morning is a re-recording of the original song from their third album. Also the three songs that were presented in 2010 made their appearance on this album. Only this time 10,000 was renamed to 10,000 Movies.
In general you could say that Flash Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter is a fabulous album with many great moments praising the heritage of Flash from the seventies. On this album the music of Flash and Yes mostly shine through all the way. Fans of these acts will agree that this is an excellent comeback album. Therefore it's highly recommended to people who love the music of these bands!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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