Following on from the hard-hitting blues of their debut album, Plays On caught the Climax Chicago Blues Band in somewhat transitional waters, testing any number of different musical styles, but never really setting on any. Certainly the funk thump that characterized their better later work was still an idea waiting to be explored, as the group instead fluttered between the scurrying jazz of the opening "Flight," the psychedelic tinge of "Hey Baby, Everything's Gonna Be Alright Yeh Yeh Yeh," the semi-Santana fusion of "Cubano Chant," and the heavy blues of "So Many Roads," all interrupted by "Mum's the Word," a dynamic Moog sequence that builds out of the theme from 2001, and then freefalls into total space rock.
The Chicago mainstay's debut album was a rough, gruff, no-nonsense affair typified by the decidedly unsentimental track "Your Love Is like a Cancer." Seals wasn't all that far removed from his southern roots at this point, and his slashing guitar work sports a strikingly raw feel on his originals "Look Now, Baby," "Cotton Picking Blues," and "Hot Sauce" (the latter a blistering instrumental that sounds a bit like the theme from Batman played sideways).
Flying the flag for British rock throughout the Seventies and well into the next decade, Climax Blues Band were at the forefront of high quality, entertaining music, performed with equal success ‘live’ and on record. This ten track selection was first released in 1980, a time of change and conflicting influences. But whatever the moods affecting the musicians, they always played with maximum passion and expertise, as is revealed on ‘Flying The Flag’. The opening number ‘Gotta Have More Love’ is closer to disco pop than the blues that first inspired the group, but whatever style they espoused, Climax always delivered songs with cool expertise. And the core feeling for the rockin’ blues can always be found in performances like Peter Haycock’s outstanding ‘So Good After Midnight’ and the aggressive ‘Blackjack And Me’, that are among the highlights of a vibrant high flying album.
Gold is right – after gradually building their reputation a series of nine LPs, the Climax Blues Band finally enjoyed a serious hit single with "Couldn't Get It Right," which hit number three on the American charts and led to this album and then two years of almost constant touring. The group is at its most laid-back here, slipping more into a funk than a blues groove for most of Gold Plated's length. They keep some elements of their earlier sound, such as Peter Haycock's searing guitar solo on "Mighty Fire," but those looking for the group's unabashed older style will have to content themselves with just three numbers here: "Berlin Blues," with its chiming overlaid and over-amplified guitars, or the slow, Chicago blues-style "Rollin' Home," and the high-energy "Extra."