The Liverpool duo Red Flag (brothers Chris and Mark Reynolds) released their debut album, Naïve Art, in 1989. Red Flag, like other late-'80s/early-'90s bands such as Camouflage and Cause & Effect, offer a similar mix of gloomy, synthesizer-driven dance-pop made popular by synth rock kings Depeche Mode. Derivative yet melodic, Naïve Art is a decent debut, though it eventually runs out of steam. Red Flag's obvious debt to Depeche Mode is immediately apparent in the minor club hits "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio." Though the production is a bit rough around the edges, the combination of cold synth beats and the emotionless vocal approach (similar to Depeche's Martin Gore) makes perfect dancefloor fodder for the disaffected goth pop club crowd. Like Depeche Mode's best work, what makes Naïve Art bearable is Red Flag's obvious gift of songcraft. Both "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio" are comparable to some of Depeche's best work, and although much of Naïve Art sounds the same after a while, the album flows along quite nicely. Those who criticize Depeche Mode for being pretentious and "wimpy" certainly won't find any redeeming qualities in Red Flag, but Naïve Art should satisfy fans of the genre. Recommended.
This album is somewhat unique in that it was recorded just a few days after his pianist Dick Twardzik died of a heroin overdose while in Paris. According to Chet, this event lead to him "seeing what heroin was all about" and it became an instant and lifelong companion for him. Because Twardzik was not able to play, they had to come up with some basic "standards" that Chet normally didn't play that often, so that there new sit-in pianist could keep up. In this case, you here some really wonderful versions of songs that Chet rarely ever played, like Summertime, Tenderly, Autumn in New York, etc, which are all marvelous.