“WE WERE looking at the Reading Festival advert and saw this name… The Angels. So we phoned up to ask who they were and were told:
‘Oh, they’re from Norwich Then we knew! ‘Hey! It’s us!’ It was just like that – we really couldn’t believe it.”
So says Jamie Durrant their bass player. The rest – Richard Hill (vocals), Ian Gosling (guitar) and Gordon Pratt (drums) – grin and nod in agreement. In explanation it should be said that the Angels had previously supported Iron Maiden at dates in East Anglia and London so got the job again for Maiden’s Reading warm-ups at Chippenham and Poole… the festival gig was Steve Harris’ way of saying ‘thank you’.
What was it like then? “Well we usually only play in pubs and clubs. Chippenham and Poole put us in front of about 3,000, but there were nearly 20,000 in that field! It was a bit nerve-wracking! We were on the main ‘A’ stage too which is 48 x 38 feet… really weird!”
The band played second on the Friday afternoon so not everyone will have seen them but Richard was pleased with the reception, especially as the gig fell only a little over a month after they’d lost their second guitarist. That prompted a reshuffle of material and a slight change in emphasis.
But having seen The Angels a couple of times since then I can testify that the set remains full-blooded HM. In fact, there’s a certain Maiden-type feel about much of the material though they disclaim any conscious influence and by way of contrast ‘Power Music’ and ‘City Of Hate’ lean more towards the Van Halen sound.
They gig regularly in and around Norwich’s area so look out for them there. Those further afield may soon be able to sample them via a new demo they’re hoping to record.
Kerrang! Issue 284 April 1990
…But don’t go hiding from the collection plate, because the only ‘war cry’ Australian raunch ‘n’ rollers the ANGELS are selling’ is their brand new ‘Beyond Salvation’ album. Long time devotee of DOC NEESON-style ‘dirtiest, meanest, amps-turned-to-11 boogie’
HOWARD JOHNSON urges you to see the light and put your hands in your pocket.
A SIMPLE TWIST of fate’, as Bob Dylan put it, probably has more to do with the success or otherwise of rock ‘n’ roll acts than any other factor. Ask the Angels (let’s drop the ‘From Angel City’ suffix right now!). Formed in Australia in 1975, these hard rockers have been releasing hi-quality, hi-class albums ever since even though most of you never heard of them! But the Angels have been responsible for some of the finest, dirtiest, meanest, amps-turned-to-11 boogie ever! They stand right next to AC/DC as top hole purveyors of raunch ‘n’ roll!
Yet only now – with the release of their ‘Beyond Salvation’ LP – is anyone sticking their thumbs up in the direction of the Angels.
When I tell the enigmatic lead vocalist, Doc Neeson, that the reaction to the new album in our office has been nothing short of ecstatic, he’s more than happy but not altogether surprised.
“It’s kind of pleasing, but we seem to be experiencing the same thing across the board with this album. It just seems to have captured the imagination.”
Which to a diehard Angels fan like myself is definitely a shocker. After all, ‘Beyond Salvation’ is a weird concoction featuring only four brand new Angels tunes plus five re-recordings of old Angels classics such as ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, the heavily AC/DC-ish ‘Can’t Shake It’ and the marvellously atmospheric ‘City Out Of Control’.
DOC FINDS it a touch bizarre too, but ultimately satisfying. “It wasn’t a question of not having enough material to play around with, let me assure you,” he says. “But we’ve got a new record company now (Chrysalis) and it’s a long time since we had a proper release. So the idea was to re-introduce the band with tracks people might be at least familiar with .
“I love the way the record turned out. It’s really full-on – a real guitar album. Terry was real concerned about that and he would just send for the guitarists…” (Rick Brewster and Bob Spencer) “…to f*** around with their sound for hours at a time. He wanted more guitars, better guitars, intense guitars, and I think it really worked.”
The Terry in question is Terry Manning….
When we were scouting around for a producer, recalls Doc, “his name came up and we were told that he’d worked with ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, George Thorogood and Joe Cocker. So we thought, ‘Shit! He’s sure as hell good enough for us then!’”
THE BAND’S instincts proved spot on. Get a handle on ‘Dogs Are Talking’ (the first single), ‘Junk City’ or the new US single ‘Let The
Night Roll On’, and you’ll understand why it’s not only me getting’ hot under the collar.
You know all this hot LA shit that everyone’s lapping up right now? Guess who influenced all those guys in the first place? That’s right buster!
“It was great when we last played at the Whiskey in LA back in ‘88, we had AxI come down and jam with us on ‘Marseilles’ and had a ball – he knew all the words! He freely admits we were a big influence on him.”
Great White too, can hardly deny it. After all they had their biggest US hit to date with a cover of the Angels’ ‘Face The Day’.
“That was a big and pleasant surprise,” chuckles Doc, “but there was also a tinge of regret attached to it as well, like ‘why didn’t they like our version?’
But at least you made a pretty penny out of the tune….
“I’ll tell you, the last cheque I saw for ‘Face The Day’ was for was for $3:36 and I know that it’s now sold towards the million mark in the States. When we first started we signed some pretty atrocious publishing deals, but it was the only way that we were going to get a record deal. I would certainly be better paid if I were a carpenter,” reckons Doc, “but money wasn’t the reason why I got a band together in the first place. I was into song writing and singing new songs. I was in a jug band with a couple of guys even before the Angels. We were doing kind of skiffle stuff with blues and 1920s jazz influences!”
I GUESS IT’S this kind of background which make the Angels sound different within what is a very conventional modus operandi. Who else in rock could claim to have been a member of the Moonshine Jug And String Band?
Just take a look at Doc, Brewster, Spencer, drummer Brent Eccles and new bassist, Englishman James Marley, and you’ll immediately realise how different they are. No long hair or spandex in sight. No designer tattoos either.
“We’re not a particularly glamorous looking band, but nor are we that ‘serious musician’ crap either. We’re not into that bullshit, we’re much more down to earth, and we’ve been doing our thing long enough now not to worry about it.”
So why have you had so much trouble securing a foothold?
“I think we’ve just been plain unlucky in out dealings with record companies.”
Was there ever a time when you were tempted just to say, ‘F*** it!’, and jack the whole thing in?
“Yes” is the frank reply.
We were touring in the States in ‘83 and half the staff from the record company were fired. We were left stranded on a bus in the middle of nowhere with no tour support. Now, I’m a big guy, six foot two, so I could neither stand up nor lie down in this bus – and it was driving me insane. I really do think that I went crazy at that time…”
But now the Angels are ready. They finally seem to have settled on a record company that is both understanding and enthusiastic.
“Now is a really good time for a band like us. The move is back towards live, energetic records that don’t sound over-produced. That’s
the Angels to a tee. I think all of this business boils down to a question of timing. And our time is now.”
I hate to say ‘I told you so’, but, well… I told you so!