[Review] Flash: In The Can (1972)

The loss of Tony Kaye didn’t clip their ambitions, although the results are sometimes half-baked on the rushed followup.

Kronomyth 2.0: Yes, the resemblance is uncanny.

I wrote a review of this for AMG a while back and was relieved to see that my opinion of this record has remained the same over the years. (I also worked the word “abreast” into that review so, you know, win-win.) For those few people who haven’t already read the aforementioned review (t-i-c), I more or less came to the conclusion that Flash’s second album continued the comparisons to a poor man’s Yes, minus Tony Kaye. Like I said, I worked the word “abreast” in there, so it wasn’t a total waste of the reader’s time.

The album’s title, In The Can, is both a play on the words “flash in the pan” (which turned out to be less a pun than a prediction) and “in the can,” as in “let’s get another album in the can before everyone forgets who we are.” The trouble with listening to a Flash album is the constant reminder that you’re not listening to a Yes album. The joy of listening to a Flash album is when it feels like you’re listening to the band that Steve Howe and Chris Squire played in before they joined Yes. (BTW, no such band existed and, yes, I seem to have some kind of teenage crush on the italics feature today.)

The record begins with Lifetime, a pretty fair approximation of early Yes that the band tries to extend into a multi-part, ten-minute epic. The trouble is, the band doesn’t weave the different sections together so much as duct tape them, and so you end up enjoying some of the bits but not all of them. Monday Morning Eyes starts out like a proggy version of “Day Tripper” and alternates between dreamy and heavy sections, with some of Michael Hough’s best drumming on the album. Again, Yes is the operative reference point, though it’s becoming clearer that Flash has their own sound and personality.

That personality comes more to the fore on the second side of the album. Black And White suffers from a poor mix, but there are some very nice sections in it. Stop That Banging, as you might have guessed, is Hough’s drum showcase, which tosses a little bit of everything into the mix. There No More is the album’s heaviest track and features Peter Banks on the ARP synthesizer. Here again, this could rightly be called Flash’s own sound, and contains the album’s best arrangement. The vocals in particular are impressive this time; with Banks and Bennett as backing vocalist, there are moments that actually invite comparison to the Beach Boys (in a good way, and not in a “Who do they think they are, the Beach Boys?” way).

In a perfect world, Flash would have been given more time to write and record a second album. Still, the band’s first three albums are some of the better examples of early 70s prog rock. They overshoot their mark much of the time, but that they aim so high is to their credit. I don’t know that I have a favorite Flash album; probably Out of Our Hands, if pressed on the matter. The three original albums are all worth owning, not before you’ve acquired the classic Yes albums and the initial solo albums from Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, but way before you start buying Starcastle records.

Original elpee version

A1. Lifetime (Colin Carter) (10:05)
A2. Monday Morning Eyes (Ray Bennett) (5:03)
B1. Black And White (Peter Banks/Ray Bennett) (12:04)
B2. Stop That Banging (Mike Hough) (1:50)
B3. There No More (Ray Bennett) (11:35)

The Players

Peter Banks (lead guitar, vocals & ARP synthesizer), Ray Bennett (bass guitar & vocals), Colin Carter (lead vocals), Michael Hough (drums & percussion). Produced by Derek Lawrence.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in November 1972 in the UK and Israel (Capitol Sovereign, SVNA 7255) and the US (Capitol, SMAS-11115) with gatefold cover; reached #121 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc on August 11, 1993 in the US (One Way, S21 56841).

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