4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Back in the mid-’70s, several friends eagerly told me about an extraordinary new band that played a combination of straightforward and melodic Pomp/Hard Rock mixed with intricate, fantasy-tinged Progressive Rock that sounded as if a group such as Yes or Starcastle had suddenly gone really heavy. “Oh, and by the way,” they added, “the band members look kinda like chicks and wear all white.”
Okay, so intrigued by the description of both music and band image, I purchased Angel’s self-titled debut platter, turned up the volume as my buddies had also recommended, and found myself facing an onslaught of wild synthesizers blasting from my stereo speakers as a killer track called “Tower” began. Talk about an “in-your-face” introduction to a band.
Anyway, “Tower” did indeed seem a perfect blend of keyboard-heavy Pomp/Hard Rock mixed with Prog, and I adored it. The merging of genres continued on through glorious tracks such as “Long Time,” “Broken Dreams,” “Mariner,” and “Sunday Morning,” whereas “Rock and Rollers” and “On and On” seemed less Prog-oriented, more commercial (a foreshadowing of Angel’s overall change in style for its third album) yet just as impressive and gratifying. And of course, let’s not forget that the album closes with a short instrumental burst of utterly perfect Pomp Rock entitled “Angel (Theme)” that instantly had me blaring the album from start to finish yet again, and again, and again. (And how can you not love a band that has its own “theme song,” huh?)
Regardless, not only did the genres blend perfectly, but so did the pianos, organs, synths, and Mellotron of Greg Giuffria mix deliciously with the metalized guitar fury of Punky Meadows. And with a highly capable and often-creative rhythm section of bassist Mickey Jones and drummer Barry Brandt maintaining a solid backbone, Frank DiMino’s powerful, wide-ranging, and multi-tracked voice soared over the lush proceedings—dare I say it?—like an angel, giving the band a majestic, bombastic, and distinctive sound.
Even to this day, Angel’s 1975 debut stands as one of the finest, most unique Pomp/Prog Rock albums in history, introducing me to the talents of Giuffria and DiMino—who became instant heroes and future influences for my own work—and I still love it to death.