The Flames “The Flame”

The Flame

One of Carl Wilson’s inspired contributions to the Beach Boys, lead singer Blondie Chaplin and percussionist Ricky Fataar form the core of this unrecognized group. The album was recorded for the Beach Boys’ own Brother Records in 1970.

Before this record they were The Flames and fairly popular in South Africa. They even released six records before being spotted by Al Jardine and Carl Wilson in a UK nightclub. The band moved to California, changed their name to The Flame (avoiding confusion with James Brown’s Famous Flames), and recorded this solid but long neglected record. After this record, Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin would join with the Beach Boys for Carl & The Passions “So Tough” and Holland, Fataar going on to become one of the Rutles (the awesome mock Beatles act). Chaplin would later perform with the Band, the Byrds, and the Stones.

“See The Light” kicks it off high — this track even had enough to scrape the national charts. “Make it Easy Baby” and “Hey Lord” propel the album’s sensitive hard-rock mood with relentless multi-tracked guitar riffing. “Lady” reveals a Harry Nilsson influence and “Don’t Worry Bill” dives heavily into Abbey Road territory. But on tracks like “Get Your Mind Made Up” and “Highs and Lows” you can hear similarities to artists as diverse as Frank Zappa and Ernie Graham.

Unbelievably, the Flame recorded a follow-up record that has never been released. Both records are in desperate need of a reissue. The currently available “Fallout” CD is a blatant act of piracy and should be avoided at all costs. Why the Flame recorded such pure-hearted kick ass classic rock that hasn’t been reissued and never gets an ounce of airplay evades me.

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“Highs and Lows”

:) Original Vinyl | 1970 | Brother | search ebay ]

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  • Rick Brown

    The Flame album WAS issued in 1970. I bought my first copy then after seeing them open for The Beach Boys at the Whisky A-Go-Go. It was never issued in 1978.

  • donkey_shot

    I own this album and it truly is a long-lost pop gem. These guys definitely knew how to play and the harmony vocals are quite superb. The Flame arrived in the US with a string of South African hits under their belt; one notable single (`68) being a hammond-heavy cover of “You Keep Me Hanging on”. A cover however of the psych-tinged Vanilla Fudge version, not The Supremes!

    While parts of the record sound a little derivative of latter-day Beatles (especially Abbey Road), the compositional quality of most songs is well above average. Both Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin went on to fame and fortune as session men and (in Blondie`s case) long-time backing vocals for the Rolling Stones.

    “The Flame” is for anyone who enjoys the harder edge of late-period Beatles or Beach Boys, or the power pop magic of Badfinger. All we need now is for Brother Records to give this album (and the unreleased follow-up!) the kind of reissue treatment given to, say Dennis Wilson`s “Pacific Ocean Blue” to elevate this minor masterpiece to the posthumous status it deserves.

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