The story of Flake began in late 1968 when drummer Wayne Thomas quit Sydney band Plastic Tears to form his own group. He recruited four other players he knew -- singer Geoff Gray and bassist Laurie Sinclair (ex The Eli) and organist Rob Toth and guitarist Lindsay Askew (ex The Seen). The new band rehearsed solidly for three months but Laurie Sinclair was forced to drop out before their first gig due to the fact that his father died, his house burned down, he split up with his girlfriend and he had been called up for the Army -- all in the space of one week!
Several changes of personnel during 1969. Mick Gaul left the band and was replaced by Denis Moore (recently returned from the USA) who was known to Thomas from his time with Sydney band Him & The Others. Not long after, Lindsay Askew and Rob Toth both left due to the difficulties of balancing work and band committments -- all the members somehow managed to hold down day-jobs -- and Toth subsequently joined Samael Lilith.
Flake now started looking for a record deal. They had preliminary discussions with EMI, who lined up the renowned David Mackay as producer, but EMI's offer was for two Singles, with the recording of an album dependent on both Singles being hits. At this point independent producer Martin Erdman made them a better offer -- he would sing them to his Du Monde label for two Singles, plus an album, providing Flake had reasonable success with at least one of the Singles.
In early 1970 Flake went to Erdman's World of Sound studio at Ramsgate. The tracks they recorded were the Jackie Lomax song, "You've Got Me Thinking" as the A-side, with as the flip. Unfortunately, although Sydney radio programmers liked the band, they didn't like the song, so Wayne Thomas (who had chosen the A-side) then approached 2UW programmer Gary Jaegear for help. 2UW had rejected the A-side -- but not the B-side, Dylan's "This Wheel's On Fire" -- so Jaegar generously slipped "This Wheel's On Fire" onto the 2UW playlist.
Fortunately for Flake, the single came out at the start of the Radio Ban, which began in May 1970. While this controversial six-month dispute between commercial radio and record companies raged, many major label recordings -- particularly UK hits released or distributed by EMI-- were banned from commercial radio, giving independent labels like Du Monde, Fable, Sparmac and Image unprecedented access to commercial radio playlists.
Before long it was picked up by 2SM and then by stations in other cities. It definitely became a major national hit, although sources differ about exact chart placings. According to Wayne Thomas' History of Flake, it made the Top 5 nationally and stayed on the Go-Set chart for 18 weeks and charts reproduced in the CD-ROM of Martin Erdman's Du Monde compilation confirm his report that it went to #1 in the Sydney Daily Mirror chart and #2 in the 2SM chart, and that it made the Top 30 on 5AD Adelaide. Ian McFarlane's Encyclopedia entry on Flake says that it went Top 5 in Sydney (#4, July) and reached #20 nationally, whereas Martin Erdman asserts that it "reached ... No 7 nationally". Vernon Joyson claims that it spent 25 weeks on the chart. Martin Erdman also reports that the single was originally released by Festival with an orange label, but this was interrupted by the Radio Ban, so Erdman's own World Of Sound company took over pressing and distribution, with Singles released with both gold and orange labels. The single also won the 1970 2SM Australian Talent Award.
In the wake of the single's success Flake toured extensively up and down the east coast, all the while balancing their music career with their day jobs. Inevitably the strain began to tell and the first to leave was Dave Allen. His replacement was Billy Taylor (ex Purple Vision), who took over on rhythm guitar aas well as adding an extra voice to the band's already powerful vocal lineup. Taylor soon became close friends with singer Geoff Gray and the band's roadie Paul Berry, and they soon moved into a flat together. During this period Flake recorded a performance of a song from their repertiore, "Midnight Train", for the ABC's GTK pop show, but it is not yet known whether this still survives in the archives.
1. This Wheels On Fire (Dylan, Danko) - 3:07
2. You've Got Me Thinking (J. Lomax) - 2:51
3. Story (Ray Cane) - 3:34
4. Dream If You Can (Rosenbaum, Epstein) - 3:29
5. See The Light (Fataar Bros, Chaplin) - 3:42
6. Under The Silent Tree (Ray Cane) - 3:53
7. Where Are You (Higgs, Palge, Russell) - 4:17
8. Say Goodbye (Gregg Higgs) - 4:28
9.Reflections Of My Life (Cambell, McAleese) - 4:50
10.Life Is Getting Better (Vanda, Young) - 3:18
11.To Be The One You Love (Sharon's solo) (Cipriani, Newell) - 3:47
12.Where Are You (Sharon's solo version) (Higgs, Palge, Russell) - 2:22
13.Teach Me How To Fly (Barnes) - 3:27
14.Quick Reaction (Vanda, Young) - 5:42
15.Down In Rio (Flake) - 6:02
16.How's Your Mother (John Russell) - 1:10
17.Breadalbane - 5:19
*Wayne Thomas - Drums, Piano, Vocals
*Sharon Sims - Vocals, Percussion
*Geoff Gray - Vocals, Percussion
*John Russell - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Autoharp
*Greg Higgs - Bass, Vocals
*Billy Taylor - Rhythm, Lead Guitar, Vocal
*Denise Caines - Vocals
*Dave Allen - Flute, Sax
*Shauna Jensen - Vocals
*Denis Moore - Bass
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