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Flash featuring Peter Banks: In Public - Udder Chaos / Live At Cowtown Ballroom

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "Small Beginnings"

Late guitarist Peter Banks turned quite a few heads as an exceptional guitarist when he burst onto the scene during the initial manifestation of the progressive rock outfit, Yes. But due to artistic differences he left the band in 1970, and subsequently formed Flash, which was a quartet that illustrated stylistic similarities to Yes. The band released three albums from 1971-1973 and more or less developed a loyal following but never enjoyed widespread success. However In Public features the unit operating in hyper-mode, and signifies rare recordings, capturing the unit from a live performance in 1973 at a Kansas venue. In the album liners, composed a month before his untimely passing on March 7, 2013, Banks aptly sums up the band's raison d' etre by stating, "Despite all the usual accusations of pomposity and self-indulgence leveled at progressive rock, Flash has a vibrancy and optimism that transcended all the stereotypes of seventies rock music."

The musicians' enthusiasm radiates throughout the live event. And on what could be deemed as their signature song "Small Beginnings," Banks' versatility and marksmanship comes to the forefront. He steers the piece with upper-register and highly melodic chord developments that underscore Colin Carter's fervent and harmonious vocals. Here, the quartet morphs a circular motif into a linear series of progressions atop drummer Michael Hough's rumbling and sweeping patterns. They shift the parameters as Bank's steps on the distortion pedals to heighten the intensity. He even quotes from Rossini's "William Tell Overture" via burning licks in unison with the rhythm section, and fuses subtle volume control-based shadings and succinct harmonics with improvisational ferocity.

The recording quality on this newly unearthed gem is rather good and lucidly showcases Flash's prowess as an electrifying live act. This album should be deemed essential for the band's followers and admirers of Bank's magnificent guitar faculties. It will also serves as a noteworthy compilation album, especially for those who never delved into the ensemble's legacy.

Personnel: Peter Banks: guitar, backing vocals; Colin Carter: lead vocals; Michael Hough: drums; Ray Bennett: bass, backing vocals.

Title: In Public - Udder Chaos / Live At Cowtown Ballroom | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


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