Down Under: The Forgotten Australian Rockers - Angel City

If ever there was a band that woulda'-coulda'-shoulda' been big in the United States, Australian rockers Angel City certainly had the potential to be and laid it on the line... but sometimes, no matter how much talent and good song writing ability - not to mention a defining sound of their own - falling through the cracks of a short-lived popularity is the always-present pitfall, of which most of the time is no fault of the band. The business of music can certainly get the best of any musician.


Article by Kyle Branch * Courtesy Photos

Formed in Adelaide, South Australia in 1974 and later relocating to Sydney for better exposure, they were originally known as The Keystone Angels, where in 1975 they supported AC/DC on a South Australian tour and later, performed as the backing band to Chuck Berry. Lead by charismatic front-man, Doc Neeson, along with the Brewster brothers and Chris Bailey on bass, the band was offered a record deal with the Albert label in 1975, based on a recommendation from Bon Scott and Malcolm Young of AC/DC.

When The Angels came onto the American scene, it was with the general intention of following in the footsteps of their friends, the aforementioned AC/DC, that arrived onto our shores just a few years earlier... since they were already popular in their homeland with the release of their debut album in 1977, simply titled The Angels. Then, going from the smaller Albert label to Epic Records in just a two-year period, they seemed to be well on their way. However, they had to modify their original name of The Angels to avoid any legal problems at the time with the Casablanca Records act Angel. From then on in the states, they became Angel City.

As Angel City, they released five albums that began with Face to Face in 1980, which ended up to be an album of material taken from two previous Australian releases - 1978's Face To Face and 1979's No Exit. This was an attempt to hit the American market in a big way, in which it did with the hit singles "Marseilles," "Shadow Boxer," "Take a Long Line" and "Am I Ever
Going To See Your Face Again." During the year of 1978, the band also supported David Bowie on his first Australian tour.

Quickly following just a few months later was the album Dark Room, which oddly enough, charted higher than Face to Face with the singles "No Secrets," "Poor Baby" and "Face the Day," more than likely because they were on a roll and you have to keep that snowball going. 1982 saw the release of Night Attack, featuring the singles "Night Attack" and "Living on the Outside".

After their time with Epic, they signed to the Mushroom label (same as the band Heart) in 1984, released another solid album titled Two Minute Warning. Four singles came off of that vinyl, including "Between the Eyes&quot", "Look the Other Way", "Underground" and "Be With You." The fifth and final American release from Angel City was 1989's Beyond Salvation which spawned the singles "Dogs are Talking," "Let the Night Roll On" and "Rhythm Rude Girl." One note of interest - when the band went out on tour to support the Beyond Salvation album, they hit the road with Cheap Trick as their supporting act.

Compact discs (CDs) hit the American market in 1988, but it was a slow process of at least five years where the recording business, or maybe more specifically - the manufacturing process, took to catch up with all of those analog tapes from thousands and thousands of musical artists and their entire catalogues, across the globe, having to be transferred onto the digital format.

And now today, 25+ years later, look what's been happening for the last few years, the resurrection of vinyl once again. I'm certainly not surprised and am quite happy seeing it come back to life. Sound quality means everything. Unfortunately, this is also where Angel City came to a crossroads with the U.S. music machine and after almost a decade of working it, they decided that's enough.

The band known as The Angels released a total of 14 studio albums over their storied career from 1977-2014, beloved by Australia at the same level as other popular bands that came out of the land "down under"... or course, there's AC/DC, but there was also INXS, Little River Band, Rose Tattoo, Icehouse, Silverchair, Midnight Oil, Crowded House, Cold Chisel, Divinyls, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Church, Savage Garden, Billy Thorpe, Men At Work, Wolfmother and even the Bee Gees and Air Supply.

In October of 1998, The Angels were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame (Australian Recording Industry Association). Although Chris Bailey died in January 2013 from an aggressive form of cancer and Doc Neeson passed away in his sleep in 2014 after a recurrence of a brain tumor he had been receiving treatment for, the music of the band still lives on, albeit with a few new personnel changes.

In May of 2014, Liberation Records released a three-disc set called The Angels - 40 Years of Rock - Volume 1: 40 Greatest Studio Hits, with songs spanning their entire discography. Above all else, The Angels, or Angel City, are a good-rockin' fun band that lasted decades based on having a good time with their music and their careers, not taking it too seriously, with the enjoyment of entertaining their audience and giving it everything they had every time out onto the stage. That's a band I can only have a ton of respect and appreciation for.