Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flying Color

My most recent record store discovery is the self-titled 1987 album by Flying Color. I had no idea who the band were when I first spotted it sitting on the shelf, but it looked like something that could be promising, and a quick phone search revealed that I stumbled onto the one and only record by mop-topped San Francisco quartet Flying Color. It's a bit alarming to think that if I didn't pay a visit to the store that day I might have never found out about this band, because this is one hell of a jangle/power pop album. In fact, it has quickly become one of my favorites.

Made up of guitarists Hector Penalosa, Richard Chase and Dale Duncan, as well as drummer John Stuart (with vocal duties shared across the band), Flying Color formed in 1984 and were around until the end of the decade, but only managed to put out one single ("Look My Way" b/w "Dear Friend") and one LP during that time. It's a shame, because these guys had something special.

Originally the aforementioned single's B side, "Dear Friend" was given a bit of polish to serve as the opener of the album. It's the band's most memorable track and is nothing short of a power pop classic. It's everything a fan of the genre could want out of a song - emotive but not sappy and packed to the brim with ammo in the melody and hooks department. Nothing else on the album reaches quite these heights, but all of it is top-notch. I'd even go so far as to say most of it is better than many power pop bands' strongest songs.

"It Doesn't Matter" and "Bring Back the Rain" are melancholy gems that represent early college rock at its best. More rocking moments such as "Believe Believe," "I'm Your Shadow" and "Wise to Her Ways" keep the energy up and give the collection a bit of an edge, while tracks such as "One Saturday" and "Farewell Song" are simply pure, jangly pop joy. Certain parts of the album even have a bit of a rootsy twang to them, which only helps the material to stand out more.

Flying Color are yet more proof that the best music oftentimes gets the most attention. During its time this LP fell off the radar without much notice, but it's essential for any fan of power pop.

The album was released on CD in 1996, but now appears to be out of print and very difficult to track down. So here, for your listening pleasure, is a vinyl rip:

Flying Color - self-titled LP (1987)
This album is available to purchase currently on CD with bonus tracks! Get it here.

1. Dear Friend
2. It Doesn't Matter
3. One Saturday
4. Through Different Eyes
5. Tumble
6. Believe Believe
7. Farewell Song
8. Bring Back the Rain
9. I'm Your Shadow
10. Wise to Her ways

Also, the music video for "Dear Friend" has surfaced on YouTube. Check it out below.


mondacello said...

Holy crap! Thank you for sharing this... looks like 'Dear Friend' is going to be stuck in my head for a long time to come. Fabtastic sounds!

Frank said...

You're very welcome! "Dear Friend" is pretty much a perfect tune. And the whole album is so good.

tiger_mn said...

What a great find! Thanks for sharing.

Popville said...

Wow, that video is quite a trip. I'm pretty sure that's Chris von Sneidern sharing the Mic with Dale. He replaced Richard right after the album was done.

Alex said...

Tasty stuff! Thanks.

Richard said...

Hello! Thanks for picking up on this. This is Richard Chase, lead guitar and writer of three of the songs (though not the best one!)

We had quite a ride back then, but one thing after another happened and we never did pull it together.

And, you are right, Popville, I quit the band right before the video was filmed. Had I known that videos would become nearly immortal thanks to the internet, I would have probably hung around a bit longer. Back then, we considered it somewhat of a joke to be on MTV midnight rotation.

Frank said...

Cheers, Richard. Cool to have one of the members comment on this post. It's too bad the band was never able to pull it together as you say, but at least there's this one great album left behind that you all can be proud of. I know I'll be listening to it again and again! Did you guys ever have any of your live shows recorded? That would be cool to hear.

bglobe313 said...

1. Thanks for writing about this LP. One of my favorite recordings of all time. Way back when music stores were dumping their vinyl once the tipping point hit for CD's, I picked it up based on a positive review by (I think) Rob Christgau. "Dear Friend" is one of my absolute faovite songs.

2. I believe this was reissued a few years back on CD (maybe by a Spanish label, they do love their power pop) with bonus tracks. There was a U.S. store where you could get it at a fair price. Do it!

3. RICHARD, congrats on your contribution to great music. Too bad it could not have continued. Possibly a case of TOO MUCH talent in one group. ANY LIVE STUFF AVAILABLE? DEMOS?


Ace K.

chris17 said...

Yup, possibly the best 80's power pop album folks. Treasure it on vinyl still. We were lucky to include "Love Is On Its Way" on issue 6 of What A Nice Way To Turn Seventeen back in 1986. It was included on the Spanish re-release of the album. Not the only band that should have been but wasn't but certainly one of the best. Well shared my friend.
Chris 17


Frontier Records who released the lp is still selling the Munster Records cd (remastered with three bonus tracks)for 10 dollars (shipping free for US & Canada, 10 dollars for international orders) here:

I got mine yesterday...

bglobe313 said...

As noted the CD reissue is still available, so any of you with an interest really ought to check it out. A nice package with the story of the band AND BONUS TRACKS.

I might be wrong here, but I think this is a reissue where the BAND actually gets paid, so do the right thing.

Ace K.

Vinyl Goldmine said...

Thanks for the heads up on the CD, guys. I've removed the download link and included a link to the CD purchase page.

Dale Duncan said...

Flying Color ar reforming to do a Benefit for producer Tom Mallon, 3/3/12, at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

do you have hectors solo lp on Cryptovision from 1988? thanks

bglobe313 said...

Hi Dale,

I wish I were near San Francisco, as I might get my 50+ years bones off my chair and to the show.

Listed as a "benefit" for producer Tom Mallon suggests to me he has encountered some problem in life. Sorry to hear that.

That Flying Color album means more to me than most people would think music ought to, but I would guess most of the people reading this blog would have similar feelings about music recordings.


Ace K.

donnie said...

just found it today on a stand for 5 euros; the album is really great! GM from Turin, Italy

Shawn Britton said...

I saw these guys at a SF nightclub on Divisidero sometime in the 80s. I never forgot them. Great band.