Sunday, February 10, 2008

Flash -- "Small Beginnings" (1972)

Yes' "Roundabout" is the prototypical early prog-rock song when one wants to write about an all-time classic of the genre. But I'm starting with this song by Flash because in my mind, it's been an overlooked classic.

Frankly, I was excited that I found a fantastic sounding audio link to the full song below and wanted to use it right away.

In the early 70's, Flash had all the prog rock trademarks for that era: long hair, some glasses, classical music noodling, singer with high voice, elaborate key and tempo changes, epic song lengths, sudden musical shifts, and awesome technical music prowess.

Flash had the extra bonus of two former members of prog rock legends Yes: the original guitarist Peter Banks (from the first two albums, pre-Fragile) and keyboardists Tony Kaye (pre-Rick Wakeman). There was no point reinventing what was already there, so they cut a debut album that sounded amazingly like Yes.

Flash cut three albums but nothing broke out except their first single, "Small Beginnings." It wasn't exactly a chart topper, but back in those days, prog rock was loved so much that it actually made it to the Top 40.

In the morning when you start your day
do you feel yourself quite lost
in a world of countless millions
on the tide of your life you're tossed
don't think you're getting nowhere
you know we all must start
from very small beginnings off to a better part

In the rush and hustle of your day
when all your world seems mad
do you look at ev'rything you see
and know that it's not so fine
just take your time and work it out
you know what's in your mind
from very small beginnings off to a better time

While this song absolutely stands on its own, it does owe something to the numerous parts of "Roundabout" and most prominently, the final section of both songs, which features hard-strummed guitars with multiple vocal layers. I don't care. A great song is a great song. So click play below and listen to one of the best songs of the early 70's prog rock era.


Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks! I'm a longtime Flash fan and friend of the band, you nailed it!

"Small Beginnings" was just included on a fantastic compilation CD, "Rock 'n Roll Roots, Vol. 10" by Bob Stroud (2008 Christmas season).

Please see:

Rock on!

beyondering said...

Thank you for keeping this spirit alive! Oh yes, this group Flash, grooves me, man. The spirit of the 'group' Yes' as it shouted forth from the albums 'YES!' and 'Time and a Word,' is so great, I hear echoes here...And though Yes became something else when Banks and Kaye were gone, all of the people involved in/with Yes carry on the spirit in their own way...

ken gomberg said...

I had the privilege of seeing them open for j geils and leave them in the dust. The fact that this group could play live this intricate piece flawlessly was beyond all comprehension. They did. Best live guitar work I've seen,and I've seen name brand. Clean,smooth, perfect timing. It energized me if youknow the chills.