What does it mean that a band called Flash and the Pan sounds so fresh 37 years later? I have no idea, but I do know that Harry Vanda and George Young somehow released the best album of the ’80s in 1979.
Flash and the Pan was formed in 1975 by Vanda and Young, former members of Australian legend The Easybeats. They had spent the better part of the decade producing and writing other albums to make back money in order to pay debts from their previous tours, and had just finished producing the last of the six AC/DC albums which they would ultimately produce. Fun Fact: George Young is actually the eldest brother of Angus and Malcolm Young, both members of AC/DC. Their first single was released in 1976, and from there on out they were known as Flash and the Pan.
“Flash and the Pan” is the debut album by the band of the same name. Released in 1979 on Ensign, this album seems like hazy vision of the decade to come.
Dashed with murky warbling synths and reverbed drum hits, “Walking in the Rain” stands out as the most perplexing and incredible of the tracks. From its cryptic and poetic lyrics (Feeling like a woman / Looking like a man / Sounding like a no-no / Make it when I can) to its hypnagogic bass line, this track resembles a soundscape more than a song.
“Yesterday’s Gone” expands on this pre-’80s, ’80s music trend with a synth ballad with more elaborate but equally cryptic lyrics. Also, this cut gets a pretty sick guitar solo.
The album’s smooth surrealist bent is reflected by the album cover, a bizarre image of a sea of sunbathers being pelted by a multitude of frisbees. With such a nonsensical and hypnotizing cover, you’re primed for the album before the first note hits.
“Flash and the Pan” is a truly weird album. Every track is based on a different idea and, by extension, theme. There’s no logic to the sequencing, but the flow is undeniable. For a surrealist work, it is profoundly affecting and definitely worth a listen.