The Casablanca Years
Seven-CD splurge on glamrock nearly men With a Spinal Tap-esque live show in which the band ‘materialised’ on stage from individual plexiglass boxes, Angel were marketed by their label as
‘the anti-Kiss’, resplendent in white satin jumpsuits like five Freddie Mercurys.
However, despite an avalanche of hype around 1975’s self-titled debut album, and four subsequent studio albums, the world refused to prostrate itself at their stack-heeled feet. With the benefit of hindsight it’s easy to see why. Their debut and follow-up Helluva Band, a clunky mix of hard-rock riffage and meandering prog arrangements, are the musical equivalent of dry ice – intriguing, vaguely thrilling yet ultimately lacking substance.
Having ditched the pomp-rock excesses for a more strippeddown sound on the Eddie Kramer-produced On Earth As It Is In Heaven, by the time of 1978’s White Hot Angel had morphed into a workmanlike power-pop outfit. However, their lack of commercial success caused desperation to creep in for 1979’s Sinful, which saw them modelling a more street-wise image and experimenting, unconvincingly, with disco (20th Century Foxes).
None of which detracts from the fact that the band could always rely on a large and loyal live following (known as the ‘Angel Earth Force’) who are in full voice on 1980 swansong Live Without A Net.
Newcomers to Angel should approach with caution, then, but a CD of alternative mixes – including their spirited take on the Four Tops’ Walk Away Renee – and a lovingly compiled booklet will send Angel diehards to seventh heaven.