Every month I get my MOJO magazine in the mail. Every month I ready myself to see an article on ćThe Angels From Angel City.ä Every month I am denied.
I was first exposed to Angel City in my mid-eighties dorm days back in good olā Walsh Hall at the University of North Dakota. The guys in the suite across the hall, three of whom were from Grafton, ND, had grown up in the shadow of hard rocker CITI-FM out of Winnipeg and had been exposed to Angel City via CITI. I was told that Angel City were Canadian. It made sense as the dudes across the hall also raved about other Canadian bands such as the Queen City Kids, Streetheart, and the Headpins. The Angel City song we rallied around was ćFace the Dayä ö its refrain of ćI donāt wanna face the day / the day / todayä made it an unofficial Morning Hangover wakeup song. The band were cult heroes on the basement floor of that section of Walsh, deservedly so. Their sound was straight-ahead-rhythm-with-two-tough-guitars atop which the singer ö a sort of Bon Scott with less whiskey and presumably better manners ö could paint his paranoid worldview.
After college, I moved to the Twin Cities and sometimes heard the Angel City song ćMarseillesä on KJ104-FM. Around the same time, Great White covered ćFace the Day,ä which was played on the same station. (In my opinion they topped the original by speeding the tempo up a notch and adding more crunch to the guitars.) Hearing these songs made me wonder what had become of Angel City. Every couple of years hence, I would think: What ever happened to those guys? How come I never see their albums in the stores? The memory of their sound combined with the elusive availability of their albums combined to make them the sort of band whose mystique increased over the years.
Arenāt we all searching for that band like this? The one we just missed? That band who was right under your nose for a while, but you never took the time to delve into? Then the years go by, their albums are out of print, and they become a wistful name that you drop around your college buddies with which to score a smile. With Angel City, the idea of this edgy, guitar-and-drums-driven rock Īnā roll band that was virtually unknown to the masses around me was all too appealing. Throw in that somehow I found out that Angel City were not Canadian but really Australian ö from halfway across the world ö and they remained an itch I wanted to scratch.
The formative days of my acquisition of Angel City music didnāt come until much later ö in 1999. I bought a used copy of The Best of Great White 1986-1992, which had their version of ćFace the Dayä on it. This kicked off my curiosity again, and via surfing the Internet I was able to find some info-crammed Aussie fan sites. I had been under the impression that Angel City had just existed for a few years in the early eighties; when actually they had started in the mid-seventies and continued to record and perform until the late nineties. They were regarded as one of Australiaās most-beloved bands. The general sentiment about their lack of stardom in the United States was shoulda coulda. I think they split up last year, but I entertain the mystery of them still being out there somewhere.
In the summer of ā99, I scored a used copy of Angel Cityās Face To Face album, which I have grown to love. It starts with the words this is it folks ö over the top, then lives up to said declaration by slamming through song after song of riffing rock Īnā roll. The great ćMarseillesä is the second song on the album. Iāve been told that now-defunct Minneapolis band Rifle Sport covered this on one of their albums. My sketchy research has led me to believe itās on their 1989 Live at the Entry, Dead at the Exit album ö which I am now kicking myself for never buying all those years ago when I saw it in the stores. (ćEntryä refers to Minneapolis club the Seventh Street Entry, I should have bought the album for the title alone.) Another song I immediately recognized on Face To Face was ćAm I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?ä which was heartily covered by gone-but-not-forgotten Minneapolis heroes the Loose Rails back in ā92. (They were an outfit that always made me smile ö I cannot think of higher praise for a band.) Interestingly, they changed Angel Cityās words from ćWait at the bar / Maybe you might showä to ćWait in the Entry / Maybe you might show.ä Face To Face ends with the words I know youāre gonna leave me with no exit. This albumās a killer.
The Face To Face album I have is the North American version ö I wonāt go into the differences between it and the Australian one. But somehow through my research, in another twist similar to the ćnot Canadianä deal, I found out that Angel City really wasnāt ćAngel City.ä See, the band I knew as Angel City is known as the Angels in their native Australia. Apparently for North American usage, they are referred to as Angel City so as not to be confused with seventies glam band Angel. Iām torn on which moniker to refer to them by (see sidebar.)
This year my interest reached a new level of action, and once again it was the Internet that helped big-time. Via online auctions, I was able to find a boatload of Angels releases. During some frantic bidding in May and June, I was able to acquire three more Angels albums from 1980-1984 ö Dark Room, Night Attack, and Two Minute Warning. (Yes, they are all labeled as being by ćThe Angels.ä) They all sound better the louder they are played. In particular, Two Minute Warning is as hard-hitting as Face To Face, while Night Attack has a solid collection of biting songs. This is a band that should be heard by anyone interested in Australian rock or great high-energy rock Īn roll in general.
The next buy for me is likely the Angelsā debut album. With the U.S. dollar having solid purchasing power versus the Australian dollar, I know itāll be worthwhile. Maybe Iāll scribble more Angels notes in my notebook, dreaming of the MOJO article that the band deserves. And maybe Iāll fire up a KB Lager oil can, put all five of my Angelsā discs on shuffle, and think of those days when this band first captured our imaginations in that basement wing of Walsh Hall. Thereās a day Iāll gladly wanna face.
Note: While working on this piece, I discovered that Shock Records in Australia has Angels releases available for purchase at www.shock.com.au.