30 June 2008
Flash and the Pan - Down Among The Dead Men
Date of Release: 1978/ 1983 (flopped both times in the UK)
At this point, I do have to declare that the inclusion of this track on this blog is perhaps unfair - Flash and the Pan were one hit wonders in Britain with "Waiting For A Train" actually sniffing the arse end of the Top Ten, but this track was issued before that. This technically breaks my own rules of only allowing the inclusion of material by acts either on the wane at the time the work was issued, or acts who never entered the charts in the first place.
In my defence, I should say that an optimistic record label did re-issue this single after the band tasted stardom, but it still did no business at all. And anyway, what the hell, it's actually a great buried single with such a preposterous video that you'll all thank me for mentioning it.
Whilst this single is a lyrically unadventurous piece of work, outlining the events on the Titanic in rather dispassionate, list-loving tones, it's still a treat otherwise. The clipped, cold vocals and the dancefloor rhythms and electronic twitterings towards the end make it an actually pretty damn good new wave single from an unlikely source. George Young and Harry Vanda were originally members of the Easybeats (already included on the "Wallpaper" compilation elsewhere on this blog) and this was quite some departure from "Friday on My Mind". Whilst the music press seemed quite happy to ignore Flash and the Pan's output in favour of younger, hipper acts, in retrospect this is a much bolder leap into then-modern production territories than either The Rolling Stones or any of the Beatles managed.
The break wasn't entirely clean as the compilation album "Panorama" proves. Periodically on that disc there's the odd clunker which sounds slightly like men out of their depth (drowning with the Titanic, perhaps) but there's also a lot of interesting material, some of which should actually have been sampled by some forward-thinking person by now. And yep, they did go on to produce AC/DC, their younger brothers.
As for the video, the sight of grown men dicking around in pirate costumes is always worth five minutes of your time. "All You Ever Wanted To Know About Ice and Fog But Were Afraid To Ask" indeed.
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