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FLYING COLOR (Buy CDs by this artist)
Flying Color (Grifter/Frontier) 1987
HECTOR
Hector (Cryptovision) 1988

Though hardly revivalist, the first LP by this Bay Area quartet abounds with unrepentant Beatlephilia, with generous servings of ringing choruses, exquisite guitar splashes and endearingly ragged harmonies. Sweetly stunning sensitive-but-not-wimpy pop-rock items like "Dear Friend" and "One Saturday" stand out, but Flying Color is equally adept with rock songs ("I'm Your Shadow," "Believe Believe"). Unfortunately, guitarist Richard Chase — author and singer of the memorably melancholic "It Doesn't Matter" and "Bring Back the Rain" — jumped ship shortly after this album was finished, and Flying Color apparently dissolved.

Bassist Hector Penalosa's solo effort — on New York's Cryptovision label, which had released Flying Color's debut single — includes contributions from Chase and Flying Color drummer John Stuart (who sings lead on one song), but Penalosa handles virtually all of the remaining instruments himself. For the most part, this immensely likable effort offers a less rocking version of Flying Color's sweetly melancholy jangle. But the whooping rocker "Northwest Trip" and the haunting violin-dominated instrumental "Manuela" (both curiously buried on Side Two) indicate that there's more to Hector than just power pop. Here's hoping his departure won't keep Flying Color from fulfilling the promise of this debut.

[Scott Schinder]