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Flash: Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter

Releasing their first album in some four decades, progressive semi-legends Flash return (or at least the cumbersomely titled Flash Featuring Ray Bennett and Colin Carter return) with two original members, seven news songs, a cover version and an old track reworked. Initially formed way back in 1971 around ousted Yes guitarist Peter Banks, the band was completed by bassist Bennett, vocalist Carter and drummer Mike Hough, with Banks' ex-Yes mate Tony Kaye adding keyboards for debut album Flash in 1972. In The Can followed later the same year, with Out Of Our Hands seeing the light of day a further twelve months down the line, before the foursome went their separate ways. Sporadically reforming over the years Flash finally looked set for a return proper when the original quartet negotiated a comeback, before Banks and Hough decided not to commit. Undaunted Bennett who handles bass and lead guitar here and Carter, vocals and additional guitar, forged ahead, bringing in Mark Pardy and Paul Pace (both on drums) and Rick Daugherty (keyboards) to complete a new line-up of the band.

Flash were initially known for having a sound that while far from a straight copy, did rely on their Yes connection for inspiration. Although a harder edge was evident in this band's prog, while a less keyboard oriented attack on later albums also varied things somewhat. However with neither ex-Yesee in sight here, what Flash Featuring Ray Bennett and Colin Carter come across as, is more a straight 70s inspired rock band with prog leanings and a cool retro production. In fact initial encounters reveal very little in the way of what we've come to expect as "prog", although these intricacies do become more apparent as you revisit "Into The Sun", "Morpheum" and "Richerd Of Venice". The latter especially feels more drawn out and intent on taking its time to come to a conclusion through some poised piano work, while the atmosphere is heightened through chiming bells and ever swirling guitars. "Night Vision" on the other hand drives along while colliding an early Uriah Heep vibe to the only obviously Yesisms on this release, becoming the album's standout track in the process.

A reworked "Manhattan Morning" adds a little more retro cool, although if you've never heard this song before it certainly feels neither out of place or dated (in the context of an album that never intends to be exactly "cutting edge"). Although the chosen cover version is a bit of a misjudgement. Not because it is poor, but when a song not only has a very distinctive flavour of its own, but has already been definitively covered already, then attempting another reinterpretation is brave at best and foolish at worst. Written by Trent Reznor "Hurt" is already a Nine Inch Nails classic, while even by Reznor's reckoning Johnny Cash actually made the song his own with a stunning, heart tearing reimagining that still hits as hard now as the first time you heard it. Flash unfortunately add nothing new with their perfectly serviceable version.

For fans of Flash, this reformation of two of the lead players in the band will be a reason for celebration, although I'm not convinced that even they will be exactly bowled over by an album that sounds safe and polite. Others with less long term interest may not even be that excited, even if there's nothing in sight worth complaining about. That said this is a solid, if unspectacular comeback and there's no doubt the authentic 70s production adds an aspect much missed in most of today's super-produced era. However with progressive and rock choices at a maximum and money at a premium, Flash may have to burn brighter than this to truly recapture the imagination.

Track Listing
1. Night Vision
2. Hurt
3. Something So Dark
4. Manhattan Morning
5. Into The Sun
6. Grand Canyon
7. Morpheum
8. 10,000 Movies
9. Richerd Of Venice

Added: June 28th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Flash Featuring... on facebook
Hits: 2226
Language: english

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Flash: Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-07-18 18:22:09
My Score:

I do not have much to add to Steve Reid's excellent review other than to say:

"Night Vision" is a classic prog rock keyboard influenced track full of high points.
"Hurt" has an early Styx' collection feel to it, complete with chimes, power guitar and punctuated bass and drums. The tone is both deep and formidable. At over nine minutes it is the longest track on the album. It is filled with brilliant keys set to a dark story.

"Manhattan Morning" is another stand out track, full of excitement and drama as well as deep oozing bass and excellent keys.

At its opening, "Into the Sun" will take you back to both Yes and early Genesis at the same time, which is not a bad place to go with exotic keys and grand electric guitar riffs.

How do you celebrate a track with a name like "Grand Canyon"? Give it the kind of pomp and circumstance demanded of radiant keys, blistering hot soaring guitar solos along with deep bass and well positioned drums. At over eight minutes there is plenty to enjoy here.

"Morpheum" is a fantastic track full of soaring guitar and the best keyboard work on the album. It is an instrumental gem amongst the other jewels on this album.
"Richerd of Venice" is full of some wonderful slow lead electric guitar and beautiful piano.

This was my introduction to the band, and it has alerted me to the brilliance they possess. Now I want to go back and listen to the rest of the catalog. Wonderful prog from a different time set with original chords and lyrics that make this an interesting band to watch for the future.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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