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Collection

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Album Review

As members of the Easybeats, Happy's Whiskey Sour, the Marcus Hook Roll Band, and Paintbox, George Young and Harry Vanda ended up forming Flash and the Pan in the late '70s, releasing three albums in four years. Flash and the Pan were more popular in Europe than in their native Australia, and they scored a Top Ten hit there in 1983 with "Waiting for a Train" off of their Headlines release. Collection assembles 15 of the band's tracks, making for an adequate romp through the group's short career. Since their own style of pop music does seem somewhat motionless at times, and a little light on hooks, this assortment may be the best way to investigate Young's and Vanda's project, with tracks like "Hey St. Peter," "Walking in the Rain," and "Early Morning Wake Up Call" rising a little higher than the rest of the cuts. Flash and the Pan gained more attention as a minor cult band than as a tuneful pop group, and it doesn't take long for the novelty of the "transistor radio"-like vocals to wear off. Although this set does offer the bulk of Flash and the Pan's best music, there are a couple of worthy tracks missing from the album. "And the Band Played On," their first single on the U.K. charts, is absent here, as is "California," a twisted, almost eerie story-song about a general who gets drunk and mistakes a weather balloon for a Russian missile, thus launching his own nuclear missile in defense. In 1997, Renaissance reissued Flash and the Pan's first two albums and put them on one disc, making it equal to Collection as a worthwhile assortment of the group's offbeat new wave/rock music.

Biography

Formed: 1976 in Australia

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

The best-known alter ego of the Harry Vanda/George Young songwriting team (the creative force behind the Easybeats), Flash and the Pan began simply as a between-production project in 1976. By 1979, the project had turned out a novelty hit with the single "Hey St. Peter." A second single, "Down Among the Dead," also became a hit throughout Australia and Europe, inspiring the release of the album Flash and the Pan. American radio began playing import copies which led to a deal with Epic Records. The...
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Contemporaries