To be honest, Angel’s popularity and cult following didn’t truly equate to success on the charts, ‘Helluva Band’ only made it as high as 155 on the Billboard Top 200 albums during 1976.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Helluva Band
SERIAL: NBLP 7028
b>CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Frank Dimino – vocals * Punky Meadows – guitars * Gregg Giuffria – keyboards * Mickey Jones – bass * Barry Brandt – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Feelin’ Right * 02 The Fortune * 03 Anyway You Want It * 04 Dr Ice * 05 Mirrors * 06 Feelings * 07 Pressure Point * 08 Chicken Soup * 09 Angel Theme
Well I guess it’s my turn to throw a few words at one of Glory Daze’s favourite bands; Angel. Seeing as all the other reviews have been written by the other members of the team, it would seem prudent to add my 10c worth. I’ll admit that when growing up back in NZ, Angel albums were in ready supply, surprisingly so. My local record store, Mainstream Records was an amazing little shop with just about every LP you see reviewed here between the years 1975 and 1980, being stocked!
If I only I knew then what I know now, my meagre budget could’ve been blown many times over! All of the Angel albums were available, but like many, it was the first two albums which appealed the most, the following three studio albums less so. The debut Angel album still rates highly with many of us, less talked about is the follow up ‘Helluva Band’. produced by Derek Lawrence, who also worked on the debut Legs Diamond album around the same time, this is arguably Angel’s most progressive album.
Gregg Giuffria was given free reign to work his ivoric magic. The band had taken 1975 by the scruff of the neck, and made the press regularly, due to their image no doubt, and possibly also as a white antidote to labelmates Kiss black veneer.
The opener ‘Feelin’ Right’ contains that classic Angel sound, with Dimino’s attentive vocals offset by the rampant use of filters and oscillators courtesy of GG. I wouldn’t hesitate, when I say that ‘The Fortune’ is the band’s most progressive moment. The soaring keyboard work from Giuffria is surefire ‘stacks on the mill’ pomposity, a killer track for keyboard freaks, and at 8 minutes 40, one of their longest too.
Back to a shorter and dare I say it, compact style of rock, ‘Anyway You Want It’ is a Kiss styled romp though Giuffria’s keys are never too far away, adding fat layers on occasion. ‘Dr Ice’ feels more at home as a progressive track, the style is somewhat staccato (that is, it doesn’t really flow), with the keyboards providing a few arpeggiated sequences. ‘Mirrors’ rolls along relentlessly, with a recurring 4 note riff pattern for which lead guitars and keyboards play all around it.
A concert piano intro announces ‘Feelings’, a symphonic laced ballad which is pretty good. ‘Pressure Point’ is a funtime rocker with the metronome permanently fixed to an uptempo setting. Some great guitar playing here from Meadows, who lets loose some near boogie riffs. ‘Chicken Soup’ chugs away but this one veers more to the band’s future pop rock sound. The album ends with the instrumental ‘Angel Theme’, probably less of a theme but more of a jam benefiting Meadow’s lead guitar work.
To be honest, Angel’s popularity and cult following didn’t truly equate to success on the charts. ‘Helluva Band’ only made it as high as 155 on the Billboard Top 200 albums during 1976, overshadowed by some of the other big guns of the year.
The band would leave the progressive style behind on future releases, perhaps in an attempt to stave off poor sales, and move toward a pop/rock direction, which despite the minor success of one or two songs (‘The Winter Song’ from ‘White Hot’ being an example), the band would gradually go on the decline right through to the end of the decade.
Never officially disbanding, the band are still a going concern, with Dimino and Meadows still at the forefront. Check their page link above for the latest happenings.