The Angel debut is regarded by many as one of, if not, THE greatest, pomp rock album of all time. Even many years later it still slays the majority of the competition stone dead.
Written by: RichardB
SERIAL: NBLP 7021
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Frank Dimino – all vocals * Punky Meadows – all guitars * Greg Giuffria – organ, piano, clavinet, harpsichord, mellotron, string ensemble, all synthesizers * Mickey Jones – bass * Barry Brandt – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Tower * 02 Long Time * 03 Rock And Rollers * 04 Broken Dreams * 05 Mariner * 06 Sunday Morning * 07 On And On * 08 Angel (Theme)
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Despite overtly commercial fare such as ‘White Hot’ and ‘Sinful’ and their penchant for rather dubious stage clothing (sorry guys white satin jumpsuits were never de rigeur even in the mid 1970’s), it should not be forgotten that Washington DC’s finest Angel were first and foremost, pomp rock supremos.
Their debut is regarded by many as one of, if not, THE greatest, pomp rock album of all time. Even many years later it still slays the majority of the competition stone dead, and you’d be hard pushed to think of any band operating in the same genre who achieved this kind of quality on their first attempt.
Angel were brimming with musical ability (though not sartorial elegance) and the debut provided a platform on which to display these talents. It’s a glorious amalgam of thunderous drumming, savage guitar, staggering keyboard playing and soaring vocals which adds up to an abundance of grandiose musical passages.
From the moment you hear Greg’s Guiffria’s swirling keyboards together with Punky Meadows’ heavy duty riffing erupting from the speakers on ‘Tower’ you know you are hearing the start of something truly special. With ‘Tower’, Angel effectively created the template for the classic pomp rock song – atmospheric brooding verses dovetailed together seamlessly with bombastic overblown choruses and dynamic instrumentation.
‘Long Time’ is in a similar extravagant vein with Messrs Dimino and Giuffria running the show to start with, until Punky Meadows steps in at the midpoint delivering some doom-laden riffing and a brutal guitar solo almost on a par with Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. The song is rounded off with some tasteful harpsichord playing(!).
By comparison ‘Rock & Rollers’ is a straight forward pile driving hard rock song but still embellished with Greg Giuffria’s distinctive keyboards – for once his histrionics are kept to a minimum. The heavy pomp attack continues over on side two with the decidedly morose ‘Broken Dreams’ (someone didn’t have a happy childhood!!), though with enough pyrotechnics to please budding air guitarists and keyboard players alike.
In stark contrast the ballad ‘Mariner’ has sparse instrumentation consisting predominantly of Frank Dimino’s plaintive soaring vocals, and Greg Giuffria’s piano – certainly the closest Angel come to obvious hit single material on this album. However this is only a brief respite from the aural pomp bombast of ‘Sunday Morning’ (which evokes the sword ‘n ‘sorcery images of ‘Tower’) and ‘On and On’. The brief instrumental ‘Angel Theme’ which rounds off the album is really just another excuse to show off Giuffria’s obvious talents.
The subsequent album ‘Helluva Band’ was to be the last of Angel’s pomp pretensions before they moved in a more radio friendly direction. Needless to say both albums should be considered essential purchases for anyone wanting to discover the pomp rock genre.
Rock And Rollers