Punky Meadows – Fallen Angel (2016)

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It’s been 37 years since we’ve heard guitarist Punky Meadows’ last full-length project, 1979’s Sinful from his glam-rock band Angel. For decades, Meadows had been so conspicuously absent from the music business, the Washington City Paper conducted a search for the D.C.-area native in 2007.

But now Punky’s back with a new album, a new band and the same guitar-driven pop-rock that garnered Angel a coveted place on the Casablanca Records roster in the 1970s.

The 14-song Fallen Angel (Main Man) is melodic rock straight out of the genre’s heyday. If you didn’t know anything about the project, you’d swear it was a great undiscovered gem from the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. The songs combine lots of different influences from the Raspberries to Boston, and boast great guitar riffs and soaring melodies.

This is the second album we’ve gotten from an ex-member of Angel in the past year: Singer Frank DiMino released Old Habits Die Hard last July. And the band received a lifetime achievement award at the Vegas Rocks Hair Metal Awards last month.

Punky Meadows’ band features Danny “The Farrow” Anniello (Lords of Mercy) on rhythm guitar, Angel bandmate Felix Robinson on bass, Bobby Pantella (Monster Magnet) on drums, Charlie Calv (Shotgun Symphony) on keyboards and Chandler Mogel on vocals. Mogel is part of a new breed of young classic rock vocalists, carrying on the tradition of ‘70s and ‘80s melodic rock. A versatile singer, he is equally convincing on ballads, up-tempo rockers and lighter power pop fare.

Rockers making comeback albums find it hard to measure up to their previous work, much less improve on it. But Fallen Angel shows Punky’s guitar skills haven’t diminished during his self-imposed exile. It’s a good reminder that bands can still craft brand new, convincing melodic rock/hard rock/power ballads. Fans don’t need to rely on listening to old vinyl over and over again to get their daily fix.

Fallen Angel kicks off with “Descent,” the introduction by a God-like voice played before Angel band members magically appeared on stage. The introduction segues into the “The Price You Pay,” a smooth slice of album-oriented rock followed by the harder-edged “Straight Shooter.” “Breathless and Jaded” is a catchy power pop with a chorus that won’t quit. The riff-heavy “Loaded Gun” will satisfy purist hard rockers, while “Lost and Lonely” and “I Wanna Be Your Drug” are radio-friendly songs with a wider appeal.

Danny Anniello’s strong, heartfelt lead vocals on the power ballad “Leavin Tonight,” along with Punky’s soaring outro solo, make it one of the standout cuts on the album. Other highlights include the country-tinged rocker “Summertime Love” and “Shake Shake,” a raucous party anthem that would fit right in with the “hair metal” popular on the Sunset Strip in the late ‘80s. Meadows’ guitar tone is crisp and clear throughout, just the way we remember it, and he gets to demonstrate this full-force on the album’s last cut, the instrumental “Fallen Angel.”

The album’s 16 page booklet contains previously unreleased photos of Meadows and full-color photos of the band. Fallen Angel is available in standard and deluxe editions. The deluxe edition contains two extra tracks – “They Don’t Like My Ways,” a rocker featuring Anniello on lead vocals; and a second version of “Lost and Lonely” with ex-Angel singer Frank DiMino handling vocals.

Any fan of melodic rock will appreciate Fallen Angel, even if you’re not familiar with Punky Meadows or Angel. Be prepared to play this blast-from-the-past album over and over, and revisit memories from the halcyon days when AOR rock ruled the world.

Jade Blackmore

Jade Blackmore

Jade Blackmore has written about classic rock, hard rock/metal and indie films for EarCandy Mag, Rock Confidential, Cinema Sentries, Perfect Sound Forever and Entertainment Today, among others. Her past day jobs in the entertainment industry included stints with Mix Magazine, Bourne Music and Boxoffice Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Jade Blackmore
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