ANGEL – The Casablanca Years [7-CD Box remastered] (2018)
Caroline Records just released an extensive, mammoth seven-disc Box Set celebrating legendary, Washington DC-bred glam/rock outfit ANGEL. Entitled “Angel: The Casablanca Years”, the band-approved Box includes all the complete discography with the label, remastered, plus a bonus disc ‘Rarities’ with songs available for the first time on CD.
Formed in Washington DC in the mid ’70s, Angel were allegedly discovered playing in a nightclub by bassist Gene Simmons, and subsequently signed Kiss’ then label Casablanca.
A big lush sound and the band dressed in white, they stood out in more ways than one. And their label has rotational symmetry too – it reads the same upside down.
The originally line-up comprised vocalist Frank DiMino, guitarist Punky Meadows, bassist Mickie Jones, drummer Barry Brandt and keyboard player Gregg Giuffria.
The original eponymous debut had some progressive roots too. The mix of acoustic and electric guitars with layered keyboards courtesy of Giuffria and even occasional flute make for a big sound, and the big vocals have range and power that overlay the strings well.
The second (and better known) album ‘Helluva Band’ was even bigger, and although a little more mainstream it featured Gregg’s ivory in a bigger role, at times a nod to Keith Emerson in his playing.
Some of the tracks are quite gentle, but aren’t without their charm, and there’s some blistering guitar work too.
Third album ‘On Earth As It Is In Heaven’ was the last to feature bassist Jones. The album was produced by the legendary Eddie Kramer.
The record kicks off much heavier, it’s solid and there’s some great tracks. Crunchy at times, commercial at others.
1978’s ‘White Hot’, one of the band’s most mainstream, commercial and successful outputs, featured new bassist Felix Robinson. The track ‘Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out Any More’ was a minor hit, very radio friendly.
Compare this and the debut and they’re a mile apart, but listen to the albums in order and the journey seems obvious.
By 1979 and ‘Sinful’, their fifth (and final, before reformations) studio album, was their more melodic rock / AOR yet, but still had some serious rock’n’roll moments. Going a similar way to Kiss at the time. The piano on ‘LA Lady’ is almost American FM radio / AOR with a bluesy foundation
The double album ‘Live Without A Net’ is one of the highlights of this Box. This is the first time this recording has been properly remastered, originally a bit muddy, now sounds in all its glory.
Here, Angel hoped would do for them as Alive had done for Kiss. It actually led to their breakup. A shame. It’s a great album that had a solid setlist from across the career.
Despite the move from prog/glam to mainstream hard rock, things never worked out for Angel as the live set shows.
And the other highlight here is the bonus disc 7: ‘Rarities’.
We find the all the Angel singles – different versions of the album tracks, some remixed – B-sides, and the legendary theme song for the movie ‘Foxes’.
There’s 3 versions of ’20th Century Foxes’; the ‘Mono Mix’, the ‘Stereo’, and the original full version that appears only on the “Foxes” soundtrack (vinyl LP out of print) two minutes longer than the included into Angel’s ‘Anthology’.
Additionally, this is not the version of ’20th Century Foxes’ included as bonus track into a ‘Sinful’ reissue: here the chorus says “Running with the foxes…” instead of singing “20th century foxes…”
So, it’s exclusive to this Box.
The band’s catalogue has been compiled and reissued several times. And by one label who have done things piecemeal. This package, however, compiles the complete works, fully remastered.
The music and packaging are both excellent and this whole thing demands a place in any record collection. It’s how things should be done.
Disc 1 : Angel remastered
2. Long Time
3. Rock & Rollers
4. Broken Dreams
6. Sunday Morning
7. On & On
8. Angel (Theme)
Disc 2 : Helluva Band remastered
1. Feelin’ Right
2. The Fortune
3. Anyway, You Want It
4. Dr. Ice
7. Pressure Point
8. Chicken Soup
9. Angel Theme
Disc 3 : On Earth As It Is In Heaven remastered
1. Can You Feel It
2. She’s A Mover
3. Big Boy (Let’s Do It Again)
4. Telephone Exchange
5. White Lightning
6. On The Rocks
7. You’re Not Fooling Me
8. That Magic Touch
9. Cast The First Stone
10. Just A Dream
Disc 4 : White Hot remastered
1. Don’t Leave Me Lonely
2. Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
3. Hold Me, Squeeze Me
4. Over And Over
5. Under Suspicion
6. Got Love If You Want It
7. Stick Like Glue
8. Flying With Broken Wings (Without You)
9. You Could Lose Me
10. The Winter Song
Disc 5 : Sinful remastered
1. Don’t Take Your Love
2. L.A. Lady
3. Just Can’t Take It
4. You Can’t Buy Love
5. Bad Time
6. Waited A Long Time
7. I’ll Bring the Whole World to Your Door
8. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
9. Wild And Hot
10. Lovers Live On
Disc 6 : Live Without A Net [first time remastered]
2. Can You Feel It
3. Don’t Leave Me Lonely
4. Telephone Exchange
5. I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
6. Over and Over
7. Anyway, You Want It
8. On the Rocks
9. Wild & Hot
10. All the Young Dudes
11. Rock & Rollers
12. White Lightning
13. Hold Me, Squeeze Me
14. Got Love If You Want It
15. Feelin’ Right
16. 20th Century Foxes
Disc 7 : Rarities
1. Rock & Rollers – Mono Mix
2. That Magic Touch – Mono Mix
3. Winter Song – Mono Mix
4. Flying With Broken Wings (Without You) – Mono Mix
5. Don’t Leave Me Lonely – Mono Mix
6. Don’t Take Your Love – Mono Mix
7. 20th Century Foxes – Mono Mix
8. Rock & Rollers – Single Edit
9. On & On – Single Edit
10. Tower – Single Edit
11. Don’t Leave Me Lonely – Single Edit
12. 20th Century Foxes – Stereo Edit
13. Better Days – Single B-side
14. Walk Away Renee – Anthology
15. Virginia – Foxes Soundtrack
16. 20th Century Foxes – Foxes Soundtrack
17. The Christmas Song – Single Edit
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