Guilty pleasures: Angel – An Anthology (1992)

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Garbed in fancy white threads and flowing locks, Angel did indeed strike a celestial pose. The band’s sound further carried a magical quality as their elaborately engraved songs roared and soared with pulsating power, resulting in a majestic heavy metal symphony of beauty and grace.

Located in Washington D.C., Angel got their big break when Gene Simmons caught them playing a gig in their native city. The fire-breathing, blood-spitting Kiss bassist was so knocked out by what he saw and heard that he called Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart right after seeing the show, demanding he sign the band immediately. A deal was quickly sealed, and between the years 1975 and 1980, Angel supplied the label with several albums.

Widely exposed, the band toured constantly and was given a lot of ink in the music magazines. But there was no middle ground with Angel. Either you loved the band with a passion or hated their guts. Although Angel did come terribly close to cracking the Top 40 on a couple of occasions and some of their stuff was regularly aired on the FM stations, they pretty much remained a cult phenomenon.

A 20-track collection, An Anthology (Mercury Records) is flooded with dazzling delicacies. Spewing forth with flashy, brassy guitar aerobics coaxed by Punky Meadows (who was a member of a fairly popular 1960s band the Cherry People), beeping, buzzing synthesizer flourishes courtesy of Gregg Giuffria (who later fronted a pair of successful groups, Giuffria and House of Lords), lead singer Frank Dimino’s strident, emotive vocals, sheets of challenging arrangements and grandiose harmonies the size of the state of Texas, not only is it obvious Angel cribbed a few tricks from the files of Yes, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Sweet and Queen, but they also clearly influenced folks such as Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and White Lion.

Gliding, sliding and swelling with space age instrumentation, “Tower” is a certified progressive rock masterpiece and “White Lightning” bubbles and bucks to a rather funky undercurrent. Steel-toed and saucy, “Anyway You Want It,” “Bad Time,” “Can You Feel It,“ “Wild and Hot” and “Rock & Rollers” tap directly into Angel’s capability of combining thunderous rhythms with crafty melodies. The band was so great that they can even be forgiven for the disco-styled “20th Century Foxes,” and while their covers of the Young Rascals’ “Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out Anymore” and the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” are no threat to the original recordings, they are rendered with enthusiasm and earnest intentions. A vibrant ballad, “The Christmas Song” sparkles with spirit, where “Flying With Broken Wings (Without You)” brings together detail and density into one stirring set.

Ambitious and brilliantly bombastic, Angel rocked hard and heartily. Stocked solid with electrifying bells and whistles, An Anthology is the ideal record to flick a Bic to, pump your fist to and bang your head to!

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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  • nice! i saw Angel open for Styx back in the day and have several hunks of their vinyl. gees though, Punky Meadows’ goofy guitar face was just made for Spinal Tap parody (ok, so was Gene Simmons…)

    i forget which song it is, but they have one that starts off with something that sounds like an air raid siren. in college we put my roommate’s 4×12 guitar cabinet in the window and blasted that thing….actually stopped traffic out in the street!

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