2023 sees the return of GDM favourites Angel, with arguably one of their best albums outside of the 1975-1976 era.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Once Upon A Time
LABEL: Cleopatra Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Frank DiMino – vocals * Punky Meadows – guitars * Danny Farrow – guitars * Steve Ojane – bass * Charlie Calv – keyboards * Billy Orrico – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Torch * 02 Black Moon Rising * 03 It’s Alright * 04 Once Upon A Time An Angel And A Devil Fell In Love (And It Did Not End Well) * 05 Let It Rain * 06 Psyclone * 07 Blood Of My Blood, Bone Of My Bone * 08 Turn The Record Over * 09 Rock Star * 10 Without You * 11 Liar Liar
Bonus tracks (CD only)
12 Daddy’s Girl * 13 C’mon * 14 Let The Kid Out
WEBLINKS: Site Link
It’s always a good day when an album is launched by a 70’s favourite, at least a favourite considered by many readers of GDM. Angel have been around for what seems like forever, it’s nearly five decades since the release of their epic pomp debut back in 1975. As many here will know already, they’ve trodden many varying styles of hard rock and most of our readers have walked their journey alongside them.
Angel’s return stemmed from solo efforts from Punky Meadows and Frank Dimino during the last decade which stirred renewed interest in the band. Their 2019 comeback album ‘Risen’ got a lot of publicity, including a well received series of gigs in the UK. The album itself was overly long and inconsistent with long time fans coming away with indifferent views about it. I reviewed ‘Risen’ at the time and came away encouraged, giving Angel the benefit of a doubt. Many others didn’t.
2023 sees the latest Angel release ‘Once Upon A Time’, once again with Cleopatra Records providing support. The band lineup is the same as before, the album again a lengthy collection of fourteen tracks, three of which are bonus tracks. So, how does it stack up against ‘Risen’ from four years ago?
An epic entrance prevails on the opener ‘The Torch’. This is like a flashback to 1975. The song itself is initially quite wistful on the verses but definitely pumps up the power on the choruses. The guitar and synth solos are a welcome boost too., Good start. The atmospherics are abundantly clear on ‘Black Moon Rising’, lyrically this could be Black Sabbath or Dio and is heavy on its 80’s theme.
‘It’s Alright’ is big, boomy and bright sounding. It’s very energetic and appealing especially on the chorus. It’s the first single lifted off the album, hence the video too. You’ll need to excuse Angel for the lengthy song title ‘Once Upon A Time An Angel And A Devil Fell In Love (And It Did Not End Well)’. The fight between good and evil is alive and well in melodic rock land it seems. If you like the gothic overtones of Blue Oyster Cult then you might like this.
Angel divert to ballad boulevard for’ Let It Rain’, a track with lots of backing vocals and a teary disposition. On the other hand, ‘Psyclone’ is an out and out rocker, and here Charlie Calv’s synthwork comes to the fore. The second longest song title ‘Blood Of My Blood, Bone Of My Bone’ is a hybrid of rock and bluesy gospel. This one might catch a few people out due to its point of difference, especially the big singalong gang vocals on the chorus.
Angel return to their rocky ways on ‘Turn The Record Over’, and by now I’m thinking this is the best I’ve heard from these guys in a very long time. ‘Rock Star’ adds a funky edge to their repertoire. ‘Without You’ chugs away with the dual guitar work combining well with some delicious synth work. The regular album concludes with another energetic affair in ‘Liar Liar’. I was waiting for the ‘pants on fire’ but it never arrived. Still a decent track.
As mentioned above, there are three bonus tracks. ‘Daddy’s Girl’ is the first of these with a vibe similar to Donnie Iris And The Cruisers, though the guitars are a touch heavier. ‘C’mon’ despite the power pop sounding song title is a keyboard laden rocker with an easy to remember chorus. ‘Let The Kid Out’ is the archetypal teenage anthem from the 70’s or 80’s. The chorus ‘nothings gonna stop us now’ was the teenage catch cry for decades.
I will admit to quite liking this album, more so than ‘Risen’. Musically the vocals from Frank are clean and concise, the guitars from both Punky and Danny give the album the required boost, while some of Charlie’s keyboard work is a throwback to Gregg Giuffria‘s heyday. Angel fans can’t ask for more than that.
It’s Alright (Live)