Flying Color: S/T (1987)

Here's a great lost one-off of 80s college radio jangle pop. Flying Color were based out of my adoptive hometown of San Francisco, mining the same guitar sound as southern and northeastern bands like R.E.M. and Winter Hours, melodic with a hint of melancholy.  They debuted (and opened the album) with the single "Dear Friend," and it's one of the finest songs of the era, one of those tracks whose chorus hook will be permanently lodged in your brain from first listen. (I'd compare it to the Plimsouls' perfect "A Million Miles Away," if slightly less rousing.)

But the album has more to offer than just a drop-dead single. While full of mostly mid-tempo tunes with soaring harmonies -- "It Doesn't Matter" and "Farewell Song" just a couple terrific examples -- they occasionally ratchet up the energy and cut loose, like on the rousing "Believe, Believe," calling to mind some of Guadalcanal Diary's work or the 60s revivalists of the Paisley Underground. "Through Different Eyes" similarly mines a nostalgic 60s pop sound. They were one of the rare bands without an obvious frontman, with 3 members contributing songs to the mix (shades of Teenage Fanclub there), giving the album a bit of variety while still sounding consistent and cut from a similar cloth.

The album was ultimately released on CD (with some fine bonus tracks) but is out of print; apparently the masters were destroyed in a warehouse fire in 2009, so it's likely to stay that way. And it doesn't stream. But if you don't have a copy, track it down on YouTube; it's an often-overlooked winner, and if you're a fan of that 80s college radio jangly guitar sound, this will slot in easily with all your favorites. Alas, they never released a follow-up, though various members have continued to play over the years. (Chris Von Sneidern, who joined as guitarist after the debut was recorded, has gone on to release some great power pop gems on his own.)

Here's the video for "Dear Friend":
...and an audio rip of "Believe Believe":
...and an audio rip of "It Doesn't Matter":
...and, hey, just one more, an audio rip of "Through Different Eyes":
Here's a live performance of "Farewell Song" from a reunion show a few years back; pretty wretched sound, but nice to see the band in action.

Comments

  1. Richard Chase here, FC guitarist. Thanks for the shout out, we seem to be more popular now than we were then. No matter, all good times...

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    Replies
    1. It's such a great album. Most of the best bands (the Velvets, Big Star, etc.) seem to be treated better with hindsight, so at least you're in good company, for whatever that's worth...

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  2. Loved, loved, loved this album! My favorite track was “One Saturday”

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