The Story of the Flame coming to America

The complete lyrics are nearly deciphered

From 4 to 7 November, 1970 the Flame supported the Beach Boys at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Los Angeles. A poor audience recording exists of a portion of the Flame's set, and this is described elsewhere on this website (menu: Live Flames). The last track on this recording is a rewritten version of Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die, with lyrics chronicling the Flame's arrival in America. We are indebted to Brad Elliott for drawing our attention to the rewritten lyrics on this tune and their significance to the history of the band. Thanks also to John Miner for spending a lot of effort helping to understand the exact lyrics.

We now have almost the complete lyrics of this tune (see below). If you feel challenged to help us finish the job I will email you a 1MB portion as an mp3 file so you can listen out for those elusive final phrases. You can mail me on bas@the-flames.com

The Ballad of The Flame (our working title)

There were four men who came to the west
Their fortunes for to claim
And these four men made a solemn vow
Oh man they xxxx xxx xxx (unknown)

They left their home on the dark continent
And came to the land of the free
And some men say it's the home of the brave
Said the Doctor of Philosophy

The hand's taking hold of the whole human race
A child is a man on his way
And love has a way of letting you know
It's the dawn of a brand new day

So four men play their lives to the core
Guided only by the hand
Of love and hate and a xxx (unknown)
And belong in a rock n' roll band

And now the road lies straight ahead
It's time to see the light
'Cause here are the men, are The Flame you see 
And you achieve a dream


The Whisky A GoGo

This poster is for the concerts the Beach Boys and the Flame gave at the Whisky A GoGo in 1971
A partial set list is shown lower down on the page. 


Shongweni Festival
Live (bootleg) Recordings
Concert Programme
historical Cape Town concert venue


Set List from the Shongweni Festival reunion concert by the Flames in late 2000
The handwriting is Tara Fataar, Steve's daughter and the dedication is to Tertius Louw,
a fellow record collector and friend.


Live (bootleg) Recordings

I have recently had the pleasure of listening to a live recording of the Flame, made about 1970, somewhere in the United States. Being an audience recording the sound quality is far from optimal, but that doesn't prevent a fair review of the live capabilities of this band. Back in South Africa in the sixties, the Flames had always been a cover-band, starting out covering the Shadows and Buddy Holly and graduating ultimately to spine-chilling renditions of soul standards. During their time under the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson's wing they took their career a step further by writing an album full of their own tunes, with mixed success. A look at the brief set-list shows us that although they certainly included the stronger of their own songs, they were still essentially a cover-band, tackling the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and others.

Here is the (partial?) set-list:

1. I'm So Happy. This is the eighth track of their Flame album on Brother Records.
2. See The Light. Opening track of the same album, and also a 45 in many countries.
3. Gimme Shelter. Originally the opening track from the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed.
4. I've Got A Feeling. One of the stronger rock songs from the Beatles' Let It Be album.
5. probably their own song called Everybody, also recorded during the sessions for the unreleased second album.
6. *A ballad about the Flame coming to America to the tune of John  Barleycorn Must Die from the Traffic album.

So the ratio of covers to self-penned tunes seems to be about 50/50. All the tunes covered are highly contemporary, being from 1969 and 1970. The closing ballad is a wonderfully atmospheric acoustic rendition, featuring some excellent flute playing with lots of echo. Apparently that's Ricky Fataar on the flute, having no percussion parts to worry about. The Flame live was certainly a powerful band, retaining their reputation they had built up earlier in South Africa as the Flames. The performances are strongly self-assured and cover-tunes are tackled with possession. The multi-part vocals are flawless, as are guitar and drums. The bass seems weak but that could be due to the quality of this particular recording.

* Note: in future the lyrics of track 6 will be posted here. Please read the opening page to see how you can help.


Concert Programme

Concert Programme for the 1970 UK tour where the Flame supported the Beach Boys. Please note that this biography contains a number of glaring factual errors. Can you spot them?

 


Historical Concert Venue

Steve Fataar entering the Luxurama prior to a concert


Front and side view of the Luxurama theatre in Cape Town where the Flames often performed in the sixties. At the time it was not allowed for white persons to enter this theatre to see the Flames and they therefore had to sneak in. It may now safely be revealed that the gentleman in the front view photo regularly broke the law in this respect. He is Derrick Gillespie, a noted sixties vinyl trader in the Cape Town area. The Luxarama was run by Ronnie Quibell, who also ran whites-only theatres down the road. The Flames weren't allowed there. We are indebted to Tertius Louw for his keen historical perspective and photographic talents.