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Flash

Flash

Review by Gary Hill

This was the first studio album from Peter Banks’ post Yes band Flash. The Yes connection is stronger as Tony Kaye provides keyboards on this album. Certainly you can expect to hear early Yes on this disc, but that’s really just the starting point. This group take that sound and make it their own and in fact, seem to anticipate the direction that band were heading in at several points on the disc. While this might not have all the majesty of some of Yes’ epics, but it does have some of it, it’s a great album that really gives a good idea of where Yes might have gone had Peter Banks remained. Of course, you don’t really even need that historical perspective to enjoy this. It’s just plain solid.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Small Beginnings
A swirling guitargasm leads off the track and takes us through the first part of the introduction. From there it shifts into a melodic jam and it really resembles the first couple Yes albums. Banks throws some cool little “flashes” of guitar after each vocal line in places and they give us some cool backing vocals, too. Other short instrumental sections enter here and there giving us some new musical insights.  There’s a mellower motif that’s quite jazz-like later.  But it gives way to a return to the earlier sounds. Around the four and a half minute mark they take us out into an instrumental journey that wanders from jazz to prog and even into some almost countrified territory. Then it drops down to a melodic and mellow ballad segment to carry on – the most gentle music we’ve heard to this point on the disc. It eventually powers up and makes its way (after a couple changes) back to the song proper. They give us a Yes-like non-lyrical vocal section later and close this (after almost nine and a half minutes) in fine style.
Morning Haze
Here’s an acoustically driven song. It’s got a lot of energy rather than feeling folky or ballad-like. It’s a cool tune and a definite change of pace. There’s a definite hippie feeling to this and we get some Yes-like vocalizations later.
Children of the Universe
A good chunk of this is in some decidedly Yes-like territory. It moves through a number of changes and alterations but stays pretty close to that vicinity. Later, though, they give us a full on jazz treatment and there are other surprises in classic prog fashion. There is a great instrumental segment later with a cool (if perhaps dated sounding) keyboard solo over the top. The guitar solo that follows seems to me at first to be rooted in “Eleanor Rigby.” That’s only the starting point, though as this wanders all over the place in killer fashion and this whole instrumental segment might be the strongest bit of music on show here. I’m not enamored with the little false ending reprise thing, though. The first time it’s perhaps clever, but when they throw the second one it seems a bit over the top. It does take us back into the song proper, though and from there the tune is back on track.  There is also a cool little start and stop, move this way and that instrumental movement later on that is decidedly Yes-like.
Dreams of Heaven
They lead this epic (a second shy of thirteen minutes in length) off with a dramatic symphonic rock build up that gets a little chaotic – and yet is quite cool. It drops back to an extremely sedate balladic segment with a good bit of jazz in the mix and builds up gradually from there. Rather than use this as the backdrop for the vocals, though, they take us out into some decidedly Yes-like melodic, but quite powerful, prog rock. The bass on this is very much in keeping with something we might have heard from Chris Squire. They take us through a number of changes and this whole section might well be the most Yesish music on the album. The thing is, it’s almost more like the direction Yes would take later than it is like the music that Peter Banks worked on. I could hear this, worked a bit differently, on Close to the Edge. It’s an awesome piece of music. After a while they take it out in a completely new direction with a jazz oriented instrumental segment that is just plain awesome. This is perhaps a bit like earlier Yes. Then we get a cool vocal dominated movement that actually makes me thing of Crosby Stills Nash and Young. From there the guitar steers us into rather ELP-like hard rocking territory and then we wander out again. Jazz and prog merge on this fast paced, somewhat freeform jam. Eventually they make their way to the song proper and this is a powered up version of that sound. It carries the cut out in fine fashion. 
The Time It Takes
This mellow number is one of the shortest cuts on the disc at around five minutes in length. It’s also quite a cohesive one. It’s basically a ballad and actually reminds me quite a bit of mellower Captain Beyond or even Nektar more than it does Yes.
 
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