Samstag, November 15, 2014 / Eingestellt von peter /

Angel - Helluva Band (1976)

Schillernde Figuren waren es ja schon in dieser Band. Heute würde man Glam Rock dazu sagen, damals gabs gar keine Bezeichnung für die Art von Performance. Dominierend bei Angel war Gregg Giuffria, der dann in späteren Jahren die Band Giuffria gründete und 2 sehr gut Longplayer auf den Markt brachte.

Mit Angel wohl doch eher im Insider Bereich geblieben, zumindest in Europa. In den USA sah es da dann doch schon erfolgreicher aus. Die Platte ist ein stimmiges gesamt Ergebnis, mit allem was der melodische Hard Rock zu bieten hat. Fette Keyboards, Moogs und Hammonds,echt spontan klingende Drums, und den unverwechselbaren Gesang von Frank Dimino.
Die beiden Überflieger meiner Meinung auf der Platte sind The Fortune und Pressure Point. Schon allein wegen dieser Titel ein muss für alle Retro Rock Fans.

As these opening lines pierce through your head, you can rest assured that they'll make their home there for many years to come. Between the high-pitched dynamics of vocalist Frank Dimino, and the ivory tickling expertise of keyboardist extraordinaire Gregg Giuffria, this is one classic album that has sadly been forgotten about.

Coming up to prominence in 1975 with their self-titled debut, Angel was a new sensation that was poised to follow in the footsteps of Casablanca Records labelmates, Kiss. Placing well on reader opinion polls in rock rags like Circus and Hit Parader was common practice for Angel when this, their second release, appeared on shelves. Winning Best New Group, and Gregg Giuffria dominating the Best Keyboardist polls, started to become a given. So, what happened? Why doesn't Angel music live on in the classic rock genre today? These are questions that will always remain a mystery. Angel went on to make 5 studio records in the 70's; the first three, chock full of hearty songs with great musicianship and charisma, and the last two records were nothing short of abysmal. Why the decline in quality for the last two records? Another mystery. Angel did go on to cut a live record in that time also, entitled "Live Without A Net", but this second record was their finest moment.

"Feelin' Right" is the straight forward rocker that kicks off the record; and it's a song that utilizes the simple classic rock formula, while incorporating a sharp and resounding vocal track to do the driving. The swirling artistry of Giuffria's keyboards was really what Angel's existence was based on though. Even on a simple straight forward rocker like this opening track, Giuffria's presence is a constant. If it's not trading licks with guitarist Punky Meadows on "Feelin' Right", it's mesmerizing us with a four minute intro on "The Fortune". Every song contains a large dose of over-the-top keyboards from an amazing player. Speaking of "The Fortune" just happens to be the second track on the lp. A personal favorite of mine, "The Fortune" is a progressive masterpiece. A song that transmits emotion at every twist and turn. An ominous keyboard intro leads to a delicate acoustic guitar and voice moment, which ultimately culminates in a menacing jam where we hear from every member of the band. As the album progresses, we see the classic verse-chorus-verse formula put into dramatic effect. With songs like "Anyway You Want It", "Mirrors", and "Chicken Soup" Angel utilizes every element at their disposal to make simple classic rock songs sound like something special. The spark in these songs is usually Giuffria's keys, and when it's not..... you can count on Dimino's vocals to keep you entranced. The combination of these two entities is best heard on the eloquent ballad "Feelings". A soaring and passionate joining of a tremendous vocal effort, underscored by a classical inspired piano piece. Still, in my opinion, one of the most emotional and beautiful rock ballads ever.

All of this talk about the singer and keyboard player leads one to believe that the band may be in need of a decent guitar player, right? Nah. Guitarist Punky Meadows leaves his mark on these songs also. Tracks such as "Angel Theme", which is for the most part a guitar solo, "Dr. Ice" and "Feelings" all contain excellent guitar parts. This is a rare case of a very good guitar player, sharing time with a literal genius on keyboards. Angel made this situation work unlike anyone else. And, finally, let's mention the rhythm section of drummer Barry Brandt and bassist Mickey Jones. Putting a solid backbone on all these tracks we lose sight of their important role here. With so much going on in front of them, they need to lay a thick foundation for all of these other elements to stand upon, and they do exactly that. Bassist Jones stays simple and steady, while Brandt bangs the skins with an intensity that stays consistent and solid. This record was an all around effort by a band that had reached their peak. Milestone:******(6)

Greg Giuffria (keyboards)
Frank DiMino (vocals)
Barry Brandt (drums)
Punky Meadows (guitar)
Mickey Jones (bass)

1 Feelin' Right 4:42
  2 The Fortune 8:40
3 Anyway You Want It 2:31
4 Dr. Ice 5:23
5 Mirrors 4:28
6 Feelings 5:42
7 Pressure Point 5:26
8 Chicken Soup 4:46
9 Angel Theme 2:32

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