Memory is an imperfect machine: we recall impressions much better than facts. After 20 years (1979), I remember Flash and the Pan's debut as a compilation of light danceable tunes with perceptive and engaging lyrics. Two decades later, I haven't changed my opinion: Vanda and Young bait the listener with sunny pop music, then trap him with captivating lyrics.
The majority of music here is ideal for disco nights - cheerful and danceable (Hey St. Peter, Man In The Middle, Lady Killer, Hole In The Middle). The method which Flash uses to deliver the lyrics is also engaging. Vanda and Young sing-speak into an antiquated radio microphone. The effect is archaic and unearthly. Contrasting the hip danceable music, the lyrics are a far cry from "Let's get down and boogie." The character standing at the gates of Heaven (Hey, St. Peter) pleads with St. Peter that he has already spent his time in hell (New York City). `The African Shuffle' appears to be a blatant racist insult of Black (Donna Summer) disco music. More precisely, the song condemns the entire "turn-off your brain and just dance" doctrine. Again in `Lady Killer,' Flash belittles the male Caucasian elitist patrons of clubs such as Studio 54. Captain Black (see James `Blood' Ulmer - Tales Of Captain Black) accidentally destroys `California' with a misdirected ballistic missile. Filled with secrecy are the haunting `Walking In The Rain' (exploring sexual ambiguity) and `Down Among The Dead Men' (an irreverent tale of the Titanic).
In the final cut (First And Last), Vanda and Young's world of selfishness and materialism is reborn with compassion and enlightenment. Flash and the Pan is unprecedented: a biting social commentary fabricated from the very music which it finds deploring.