Flaming Youth

Flaming Youth was an English psych-rock band that released the album Ark 2 on Fontana in 1969. Drummer Phil Collins soon joined Genesis, where he eventually became the vocalist while moonlighting in jazz-rockers Brand X. Keyboardist Brian Chatton later played in Jackson Heights, Snafu, and Boys Don’t Cry.

Members: Phil Collins (drums), Gordon Smith (vocals, guitar, bass), Brian Chatton (vocals, keyboards), Ronnie Caryl (vocals, guitar, bass), Rod Mayall (keyboards, ?-1970)

The band was formed as Hickory in early 1969 by keyboardist Brian Chatton, bassist Gordon “Flash” Smith, guitarist Ronnie Caryl, and drummer Phil Collins. They first assembled as the touring band behind American singer John Walker, a once-and-future member of the Walker Brothers. Earlier, Chatton played in R&B/beatsters The Warriors with eventual Yes vocalist Jon Anderson.

Their one single as Hickory, “Green Light” (b/w “Key”), appeared in 1969 on CBS. “Green Light,” a Stax/Motown-tinged soul-rocker reminiscent of “Gimme Some Lovin'” by the Spencer Davis Group, was written by Eddy Grant and recorded earlier that year by his band, The Equals. Both sides were produced and arranged by John Goodison, who worked with numerous MOR pop acts of the period (Flying Machine, Harmony Grass, Vanity Fair, Brotherhood of Man).

Soon thereafter, the band encountered Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, a songwriting duo behind hits for Lulu, The Herd, The Honeycombs, and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The pair composed a concept album and hired the band to record it under the name Flaming Youth.

The resulting album, Ark 2, was released in October 1969 on Fontana (UK, Netherlands) and UNI (US). Inspired by the recent moon landing, the album’s plot concerned an exodus from planet Earth.

To promote the album, Flaming Youth mimed five songs — “Earthglow,” “Weightless,” “Changes,” “Space Child,” and “From Now On (Immortal Invisible)” — for the Dutch TV station TROS. The last two numbers were paired on a UK 7″. One further (non-album) single, “Man, Woman and Child” (b/w “Drifting”), appeared on UK/Spanish Fontana in 1970.

Flaming Youth struggled to find gigs and ran aground in mid-1970. In their final months, they welcomed keyboardist Rod Mayall, brother of John Mayall.

That summer, Collins and Caryl auditioned for Genesis, which passed on Caryl but hired Collins. Caryl later played as a sessionist and touring musician for Maggie Bell, Lulu, Stephen Bishop, and (decades onward) Collins.

Collins drummed and sang on 12 Genesis studio albums, starting on their 1971 release Nursery Cryme. After the 1975 departure of original frontman Peter Gabriel, Collins became their lead vocalist. Between 1976 and 1979, he cut three albums with jazz-rockers Brand X. He shot to fame with his 1981 solo debut Face Value and became one of the most high-profile acts of the 1980s.

Chatton joined ragtime rockers Jackson Heights, playing on their 1972/73 albums The Fifth Avenue Bus, Ragamuffins Fool, and Bump ‘n’ Grind. He joined Snafu for their 1975 release All Funked Up and played on albums by Andy McKay, Alan Hull, Rock Follies, and John Miles. He later teamed with musician Nico Ramsden (ex-Byzantium) in the synthpop band Boy’s Don’t Cry, which scored back-to-back hits in 1985 with “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” and “Cities on Fire.”

Ark 2 was twice reissued by Fontana in 1986 (Netherlands, LP) and 1990 (Japan, CD). The 1996 reissue on Polydor (Europe) is the first to include the 1970 single. Since 2000, the album has twice been bootlegged by archivists Mason Records.


  • Ark 2 (1969)


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