In the decade from the mid-‘60s to mid-‘70s, there was a thriving youth subculture in Melbourne Australia called the Sharpies. The Sharpies were a gang of hooligans whose culture was centered around raw guitar music and their own style in dance (sharp elbows), dress (chisel toed shoes, jeans, tight-fitting cardigans) and haircuts – let’s say they were punks with mullets. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, watch this and you’ll get it.
Perhaps the most important band to the Sharpies was Coloured Balls, led by guitarist Lobby Loyde. Coloured Balls were known for playing the loud and aggressive music that was favored by the Sharpies.
Coloured Balls were influenced by the
MC5 and Flamin’ Groovies but you can also draw a straight line to their
influence on AC/DC.
A contemporary band out of Australia is Amyl and the Sniffers. Led by singer Amy Louise (Amyl) Taylor, they have full adopted the Sharpie aesthetic.
So if you enjoy your music loud, fast
and snotty, these bands are for you!
At the height of the prog rock era in the early ‘70s was a British group called Flash that was a poor man’s Yes. Not only did Flash imitate Yes style arrangements and Jon Anderson’s high register vocals, but they also featured former Yes musicians Tony Kaye (keyboards) and Peter Banks (guitar).
Flash released three albums in 1972-73, but bad vibes between Banks and the rest of the band led to a break up by the end of ’73.
Today’s SotW is “Black and White” from their middle album – In the Can.
“Black and White” is a showcase for Banks’ stellar guitar work. At 12 minutes, the cut risks becoming boring – but that never happens. The playing, singing and thematic changes keep it interesting throughout.
Keith Gordon posted this description of the song on his blog — That Devil Music: classic rock & blues remembered… – in 2013:
A wildcat reading of “Black And White,” from Flash’s sophomore effort In The Can, opens with Hough’s spry drumbeats atop which Banks layers on swirling, prog-psych guitar textures. A twelve-minute opus, the song is the perfect showcase for both the band’s individual talents and immense chemistry. The odd man out may be vocalist Colin Carter, who is too frequently (and unfairly) compared to Jon Anderson of Yes when, in fact, he has his own distinctive style. “Black And White” is as much a display of Carter’s impressive vocal gymnastics as it is for the guitar or percussion and, at nearly a quarter-hour of playing time, there’s a lot of virtuoso sounds emanating from the grooves.
Flash also produced a couple of noteworthy LP covers that would not fly today given the current sensitivity to the #MeToo movement. One showed a woman’s panties and another displayed hair falling over a shoulder, barely concealing a naked breast. (Both were far more provocative when the gatefold was opened!)