I took a walk in Mortlake yesterday. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon in a pretty part of town; with lots of Chazzers, needless to say. As I had a couple of hours to kill before the Missus returned from her piano lesson I thought it opportune to indulge my hobbie, which the wife has taken to calling my obsession. In among the yummy mummies, strange crockery and Beckham biographies lay this little gem, about which I knew nothing. What to do? Of course, there is only ever one thing to do, and I gladly handed over my pound, thinking I had probably acquired a priceless slab of pentecostal praise-pop.
Soulfire!! (those doubled exclamation marks just kill me), by The Flames? Reeks of faith. And that semi-abstract cover puts one in mind of a holy visitation.
But turn it over and you get four very young dudes in matching Nehru suits. Now I was confused. But thank the Gods for the internet as (oh happy day!!) I now know a great deal about this classic relic of psychedelic soul-pop from, of all places, Durban, in South Africa. The Flames were a fixture of the 60s scene in SA. This is their fourth album and things have got a little trippy, particularly on Solitude, which features sitars, a slow, stoned, conga rhythm and some sort of bass wobble-board that may or may not be a jug.
It appears that records by The Flames are highly collectable, not least because two of their members, Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin, joined The Beach Boys in 1972. (The Beach Boys!! Can you credit it?!!) There is an excellent web-site dedicated to this band, my thanks go to its author, Baz Möllenkramer, for providing everything one would ever need to know about The Flames: