Led by singer Julie Mostyn and astute songwriter/guitarist Jeff Sullivan, the Flaming Hands were one of the great inner-city Sydney (Australia) bands of the early 80s. The band’s intense yet tuneful blend of 1960s soul, R&B and psychedelic pop attracted a loyal following.
The band signed to the Phantom label and issued the delightful I Belong To Nobody single in September 1980, featuring soul covers originally recorded by The Marvelettes and Soul Incorporated. By the time the first single was released, Paul ‘Sluggo’ Maheno had joined on sax.
The new line-up issued the Lobby Loyde-produced Wake Up Screaming single in March 1981, which coincided with another line-up change, with Sullivan, Mostyn and Sluggo being joined by newcomers Grant Conner (bass), Peter Bull (keyboards) and Alan Brown (ex-Proteens) on drums.
The new line-up supported The Clash at their epic seven-night stand at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre during February 1982, during which time The Clash’s manager, Bernie Rhodes became something of a Flaming Hands fan.
The band issued a new single, It’s Just That I Miss You a month later. By the end of the year, however, Sullivan and Mostyn had grown dissatisfied with their lack of progress and inability to gain a major record deal and broke up the band.
Bull later joined Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls, while Sullivan and Mostyn started to put together a new band called Tunnels and Trains, but a year later had reverted to the name The Flaming Hands. The band signed to Big Time (through EMI) and prepared to record an album.
With the help of INXS members, Andrew Farriss and Garry Beers, Sullivan and Mostyn recorded the 12″ single Cast My Love (October 1983) and the 7″ single The Edge (March 1984).
By 1984, Flaming Hands consisted of Sullivan, Mostyn and Sluggo. With assistance from session players the band completed their self-titled debut album, which also spawned two more singles, Break Down And Cry and Out Of Our Hands.
By mid-year the band had returned to the live arena with a line-up of Sullivan, Mostyn, Sluggo, Tim Leitch (keyboards), DC Robertson (bass) and Michael Prowse (drums).
At the end of 1985, with still only a cult following to show for five years of perseverance, Sullivan and Mostyn finally laid Flaming Hands to rest.
Paul ‘Sluggo’ Maheno