Home
reviews
album list
albums
Angel, 'Angel'

Angel  (1975,  37.47)  ****/TTT½

Tower
Long Time
Rock & Rollers

Broken Dreams
Mariner
Sunday Morning
On & on
Angel (Theme)
Angel, 'Helluva Band'

Helluva Band  (1976,  44.18)  ***½/T

Feelin' Right
The Fortune
Anyway You Want it
Dr. Ice
Mirrors
Feelings
Pressure Point
Chicken Soup
Angel Theme
Angel, 'On Earth as it is in Heaven'

On Earth as it is in Heaven  (1977,  42.21)  **/T½

Can You Feel it
She's a Mover
Big Boy (Let's Do it Again)
Telephone Exchange
White Lightning
On the Rocks
You're Not Fooling Me
That Magic Touch
Cast the First Stone
Just a Dream
Angel, 'White Hot'

White Hot  (1977,  37.53)  *½/T½

Don't Leave Me Lonely
Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
Hold Me, Squeeze Me
Over and Over
Under Suspicion
Got Love if You Want it
Stick Like Glue
Flying With Broken Wings (Without You)
You Could Lose Me
The Winter Song
7"  ( 1977)  ***/TT½

Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
Better Days
Angel, 'Sinful'

Sinful  (1979,  33.52)  *½/T½

Don't take Your Love
L.A. Lady
Just Can't Take it
You Can't Buy Love
Bad Time
Waited a Long Time
I'll Bring the Whole World to Your Door
I'll Never Fall in Love Again
Wild and Hot
Lovers Live on
Angel, 'Live Without a Net'

Live Without a Net  (1980,  81.26)  **½/T

Tower
Can You Feel it
Don't Leave Me Lonely
Telephone Exchange
I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
Over and Over
Anyway You Want it
On the Rocks
Wild and Hot
All the Young Dudes
Rock & Rollers
White Lightning
Hold Me, Squeeze Me
Got Love if You Want it
Feelin' Right
20th Century Foxes
Angel, 'An Anthology'

An Anthology  (1992, recorded 1975-80,  77.33)  ***/TT½

Angel (Theme)
Tower

On and on
Rock and Rollers
Feelin' Right
Anyway You Want it
Can You Feel it
White Lightning
Don't Leave Me Lonely
Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart
  Anymore

Got Love if You Want it
Flying With Broken Wings
  (Without You)

The Winter Song
Don't Take Your Love
Bad Time
Walk Away Renee
I'll Never Fall in Love Again

Wild and Hot
20th Century Foxes
The Winter Song

Current availability:

Mellotron used:

To look at the sleeve of the first Angel album, you'd have no idea that they'd go on to develop one of the silliest images ever, despite stiff competition. On the inner sleeve they look like just about any other mid-'70s American rock band, although, as you can see, by the time their second album came out they'd gone for the full satin jacket (and trousers, and, well, everything really). Their ludicrous, preening 'angelic' image was obviously conjured up by a desperate marketing exec looking for a hook on which to hang the band; they were signed to the same label as Kiss, Casablanca, and presumably there was meant to be some sort of 'darkness/light' thing between the two outfits ('Knights In Satan's Service' anyone?!!). Their stage show included various sleight-of-hand appearing/vanishing tricks, similar to that used by funksters Earth, Wind & Fire a few years later. This attempt at a smokescreen for the music, was, at least in this stage of their career, entirely unnecessary; Angel were one of the prime exponents of the style retrospectively dubbed Pomp that America ever produced. Best described as 'accessible hard rock with progressive stylings', the US specialised in bands partly or fully fitting this description: Styx, Kansas, Saga (OK, so they're Canadian) and, of course, Angel.

Angel is, in fact, one of the finest Mellotron albums to come out of the US in the '70s, or indeed, any decade. The album opens with the near-seven minutes of Tower; all swooping synths and roaring Hammond, this track lays out the band's (original) manifesto with a vengeance. Helium-fuelled vocals from Frank DiMino, Punky Meadows' ripping guitar (the infamous subject of Frank Zappa's Punky's Whips, named after, well, never mind) and, of course, the outrageously-bouffanted Gregg Giuffria (far right on the Sinful sleeve)'s epic keyboards. As the lengthy intro shifts into the first verse the 'Tron strings are right to the fore, and keep their presence up throughout the song. Track two, Long Time, is another Mellotron-fest, with Giuffria using it as his chief instrument; the massive swell of the strings at the song's climax are positively orgasmic. Well, almost. Even a fairly straightforward rocker like Rock & Rollers still opens with a burst of 'Tron choir. Giuffria keeps up the pressure on almost every track; Mariner is particularly heavy on the Mellotron front, as is album closer Angel (Theme). To sum up; buy this album. The music is possibly an acquired taste; the Mellotron use isn't.

By the following year's Helluva Band the cracks were already starting to show. An uneasy compromise between the full-on pomp of their debut and the bland commercialisation of their later efforts, the only 'Tron track on the album is the eight-minute rewrite of Tower, The Fortune. Essentially a four-minute song with a four-minute keyboard intro (!), it defines the genre by being completely ridiculous and, well, utterly wonderful, actually. Sadly, it wasn't to last; On Earth as it is in Heaven only managed one half-hearted effort at pomp and White Hot and Sinful are average pop-rock fare, although Giuffria's Mellotron turns up every now and again throughout all three albums. One oddity from the period is the unanthologised b-side to Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore, Better Days, an above-average slowie from late '77, complete with swathes of 'Tron strings, including a near-solo section in the middle.

Their double live swansong, Live Without a Net, serves only to point up the dichotomy between Angel's earlier and later work. Opening with the fabulous pomp of Tower, most of the rest of the album consists of lightweight drivel from their last three records, particular horrors including Don't Leave Me Lonely, Wild And Hot and White Lightning, although most of it's pretty awful. Also, is that crowd real? Some of it must be, as they respond to DiMino's terrible stadium rock banter, but much of it sounds dubbed on. There are a few better moments here and there, including, of course, Tower and Giuffra's solo (no 'Tron, though) at the beginning of On The Rocks, but they're few and far between, to be honest. Giuffra's Mellotron work seems to be restricted to a handful of tracks, although there are some unidentified sounds in a couple of tracks that just might be, although there's a polysynth in there, too. What 'Tron there is sounds muffled and grungy, and I'm not even sure if the intro to Rock & Rollers is actually the choir from the studio version or not.

One last item of Angel Mellotronia is their actually pretty decent unreleased-during-their-career cover of The Left Banke's infamous Walk Away Renee, finally made available on 1992's career retrospective An Anthology, an otherwise fairly ropey comp, although it includes half of their debut. So; it's fairly obvious from the above that I consider Angel to be fairly essential, Helluva Band has its moments, though next to no 'Tron, and everything else is a waste of time. Incidentally, an amusing, if slightly distasteful note: Apart from the events surrounding Zappa's 'tribute', Punky was once heard to declaim something along the lines of "I'd like to have a c*** fitted to the back of my guitar so I can fuck it while I'm playing". Thank you for that, Mr Meadows...

On a brighter note, here's their ludicrous Tower promo, Mellotron just not quite visible. Bah.

bootlegs
Angel, 'Hiroshima'

Kenmin Taiikukan, Hiroshima, Japan, 7th February 1977  (120.03)  ***½/TTT

Introduction
Tower
On and on
Big Boy (Let's Do it Again)
Telephone Exchange
Long Time
Cast the First Stone
Anyway You Want it
Chicken Soup
On the Rocks
Can You Feel it
Pressure Point
Broken Dreams
You're Not Fooling Me
The Fortune
She's a Mover
Rock & Rollers
Feelin' Right
White Lightning
Outroduction

Mellotron used:

Angel's sole live album, Live Without a Net, dates from the very end of their career, meaning that there's quite a bit of reviewal scope for earlier, more Mellotron-heavy bootlegs. The band's poorly-recorded date at Hiroshima's Kenmin Taiikukan in February '77 is one such, covering only their first three albums (which is still one too many), although around half the set is worth hearing for fans of their early style. A lengthy, movie theme-esque intro tape kicks things off, before the band bursts into obvious opener Tower, keyboards irritatingly buried in the mix, although things improve by second track in, On And On. Highlights include the epics Long Time and The Fortune (no surprise there, then), other notable features including Gregg Giuffria's classically-influenced solo spot, all modular Moog and Mellotron, in Cast The First Stone and more movie-theme intros, particularly on Can You Feel It. Downsides? Most of the largely crummy On Earth as it is in Heaven and closer White Lightning's tedious, several-minute Frank DiMino vocal intro, not to mention a bloody drum solo.

As stated above, Giuffria starts off far too low in the mix, his Mellotron flutes and strings on classic opener Tower all but inaudible, although they're fairly obvious by On And On and Big Boy (both Mellotron-free in the studio). Telephone Exchange and the epic Long Time replicate their studio versions' string parts, with new parts on Cast The First Stone, Chicken Soup and She's A Mover, not to mention the choirs on The Fortune's intro (which sounds suspiciously like it might be a tape), with strings and more choirs later on, unlike its studio counterpart. The sound quality here may be fairly poor, but this is essential listening for Angel fans.

I've heard another three Angel boots, maybe surprisingly, for such a relatively low-key band: Rarities, including three early-period live tracks (not to mention b-side Better Days, reviewed above), Blowing Great Guns from Fresno, May '78 and Chicago Stadium from December the same year. Reviews? Little point, frank(DiMino)ly, with no Mellotron tracks not already evident on Live Without a Net or Hiroshima, above. Saying that, are those background strings on L.A. Lady from Chicago? Seems unlikely, as there's a piano part throughout most of the song, while Bad Time, despite its studio Mellotron, appears to be bereft here.

links

MySpace

Fan site


previous pagenext page