I’ve not been to Australia yet but I know exactly what it’s like. It’s a mostly flat radioactive wilderness girded by primitive settlements, tribes almost, of mutants and scavengers ruled over by various fearsome warlords and chieftains who enforce their tyrannical rule on their enslaved subjects through unthinking, unceasing barbarity and brutality, charging around in their souped-up cars*. In the evenings these children of the apocalypse gather together in rudimentary drinking establishments to quaff fermented mental juice, fight recreationally and listen to diamond-hard boogie. Oh and there are koalas in Australia, I like them, they’re cute.
Neither cute, nor koalas, The Angels From Angel City burst into my consciousness when I guy I knew called Wilf at university copied ‘a fucking great tape’ for me with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom on one side and Beyond Salvation by this Aussie band I’d never heard of on the other. It knocked me out. The opening track ‘Dogs Are Talking’ was the most exciting hard rock boogie thing I’d heard in years and it became the first LP I bought in 1991**, despite the cover being a bit pants. I never heard of the band again.
Well that is until I read an obituary of the lead singer Doc Neeson in 2014 and I found out that he had fronted a band called the Angels who were an Aussie hard rock institution. Supporting AC/DC*^ back in ’75-76 Bon and Malcolm apparently recommended them to the indomitable duo of Vanda and Young who promptly signed them up to Albert productions and lent them their production skills; cue a serious cavalcade of punky, hard rock and new wave treats over a number of years. Come 1989, come GNR and Great White manager Alan Niven and a deal with Chrysalis Records, the Angels were poised to do big things and they released Beyond Salvation.
In the grand tradition of Aussie hard rock LPs the overseas version of the album was completely different to the domestic release, the band adopted the Angels From Angel City moniker to avoid confusion with/litigation from that lot from the USA that Punky Meadows used to front. The Aussie version was, very sensibly, an all-new affair but the international version featured a handful of newies and re-recordings of a bunch of greatest hits that may not have made it overseas first time around.
It was ‘Dogs Are Talking’ that hooked me at first listen and it is still a great slice of rock today, macho sexy nonsense aside. I found myself dancing to it whilst
doing the ironing feasting with my conquered enemy’s concubines this morning. It’s just as much of a blast for me now as it was 25 years ago. Team it up with the next two tracks ‘Rhythm Rude Girl’ and ‘Let The Night Roll On’ and I’m well on the road to Valhalla. The former is a big, slow raunchy hairball of a track about just the type of infernally pneumatic exotic dancer that would scare me, umm, rigid in real life and the latter is pretty darned special. ‘Let The Night Roll On’ is a straight-ahead head-banging boogie which sounds a bit like the Georgia Satellites in a really bad temper and there’s a gratifying bit of chaos and damnation about Doc Neeson’s vocals on this one too. ‘City Out of Control’ brings the side of originals to a close and it’s a slinky, menacing beast of a track, with some rather good guitaring on it courtesy of Rick Brewster and Bob Spencer.
I had no idea until yesterday that one of the tracks on Beyond Salvation pretty much held the key to the whole of the Angels’ career, it wasn’t even a track I rated particularly. The track, ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, written after a friend of a friend died has rather good, sensitive lyrics about loss and longing,
Went down to Saint Tropez
Where Renoir paints the walls
Described you clearly
But the sky began to fall
Am I ever gonna see your face again?
Am I ever gonna see your face again?
So far, so good. That is until Aussie audiences started shouting ‘No way, get fucked, fuck off!’, every time in answer to the question. It surprised the band at first and then they embraced it and it became their signature thang live^. I really like that story because it’s the tale of the audience grabbing a song from the artist and making it theirs. Plus it appeals to my childish joy at totally gratuitous swearing.
The second side of Beyond Salvation is the weaker one, having done a bit of research I find the originals are a bit rawer and leaner every time. Still though, nothing here is bad and I can picture it as just the sort of hard-rocking hard-drinking music I’d want to soundtrack a four-day bender to after I’d come off a three-week shift at the bauxite mine and I was looking to blow a fuse or two.
That the Angels From Angel City never did go on to bigger things internationally with Beyond Salvation is definitely no reflection on their songs or talent, it’s probably more of a reflection on their age, the slightly overblown band name and the fact that Chrysalis always seemed to be rubbish at pushing hard rock bands properly. I’ve not been to Australia yet but I know exactly what it’s like….
*or was that just Mad Max: Fury Road? (which I watched today).
**just chucked that in there for future biographers of mine.
*^apparently, some kind of local band from over there, down under.
^but don’t take my word for it: