The Angels are a hard rock band that formed in Adelaide, Australia in 1970. The band later relocated from Adelaide to Sydney and enjoyed huge local success until well into the 1990s. For the purposes of international release, their records were released under the names Angel City and later The Angels From Angel City. Since 2001, the band's former members have toured and recorded under various names including Members of the Angels and The Original Angels Band. Due to a court injunction lodged by former vocalist Bernard "Doc" Neeson, the band name The Angels can no longer be used as of 31 August 2007.
In 2006, The Angels were featured on a postage stamp for Australia Post as part of their "Australian Rock Posters, The Stamps" collection.
In 1974 they changed their name to The Keystone Angels, switched to electric instruments and began playing 1950s rock and roll on the pub circuit. In July 1974, just before Go-Set magazine ceased publication, a number of small ads started appearing weekly announcing "The KEYSTONE ANGELS are coming", possibly the first mention of the band in an Australian national rock music publication. In 1975 the band supported AC/DC during a South Australian tour, and later performed as the backing band for Chuck Berry.
The Angels' first single, "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again", was released in April 1976. The Angels made their debut TV appearance on Countdown. Later in the year, Charlie King, at the time AWOL from the army, was replaced by Graham "Buzz Throckman" Bidstrup on the drums. This would be the first of three different versions of the song the band released as singles throughout their career.
July 1977 saw the release of the band's second single, "You're A Lady Now", followed a month later by their self-titled debut LP, The Angels. By now Chris Bailey had joined the band on bass, allowing Neeson to concentrate on vocals. Bailey had been a member of Mount Lofty Rangers with Bon Scott in 1974. They released Round and Round, later remixed by Vince Lovegrove as Round and Round and Round in 1996. Neeson's move to specialist frontman allowed the band to develop an energetic and theatrical live presence. Neeson would typically appear on stage as a wild extrovert, dressed in a tuxedo and shaking maracas. As a foil, Rick Brewster would remain motionless, his head cocked to one side, for the entire performance. 1978's Face to Face album reached #16 in November and stayed on the Australian charts for 79 weeks. Mark Opitz engineered, and along with The Angels, co-produced the album. Peter Ledger, who designed the cover, won Best Australian Album Cover Design Award. Face to Face produced the band's first hit single, "Take a Long Line", which has gone on to become one of the Angels' most-recognised songs. In November, the band supported David Bowie on his first Australian tour, resulting in The Tour EP 7" single.
No Exit, issued in June 1979, entered the Australian album chart at #8 upon its release and again at #15 in September. George Young contributed as a backing vocalist. In October 1979, Albert released the Out Of The Blue EP, featuring the third version of "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" in three years.
On New Year's Eve 1979, the band performed in front of almost 100,000 people on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. Their show, however, was cut short when a riot broke out in the audience. Doc Neeson was hit on the head with a sign and Chris Bailey was knocked unconscious by a flying bottle and hospitalised.
Dark Room, produced by the Brewster brothers, was released in June 1980. The overseas version of this album featured re-recorded versions of "Ivory Stairs" and "Straight Jacket" in place of "Alexander" and "I'm Scared". American band Great White would later cover "Face The Day", from this LP as well as "Can't Shake It" from Face to Face.
In March 1981, drummer Graham Bidstrup left the band, reportedly due to non-musical differences, and was replaced by New Zealander Brent Eccles. Bidstrup joined The Party Boys in 1983 and later formed GANGgajang. The Never So Live EP, issued in October, received heavy airplay and on the strength of the new song "Fashion And Fame" went to sell some 80,000 copies. In November 1981 Night Attack, produced by Ed Thacker and the Brewsters, was released.
The band's third international album, Night Attack included a remixed version of "Back On You", previously only available on the flipside of the "Into The Heat" single. Early in 1982, it became apparent Chris Bailey would be unable to tour with the band in the US; American Jim Hilbun was recruited as replacement.
In May 1983, Watch The Red, produced by The Angels and engineered by Andrew Scott and Al Wright, was issued. The first single release, "Stand Up", written by Hilbun, was a success. The album, critically acclaimed for its musical inventiveness, featured saxophone leads from Hilbun, John Brewster on lead vocals for one track, and even a piano accordion. A great deal of the material was also derived from a 40 minute jam-session, including an instrumental track and totally improvised lyrics from Neeson. The recording of the album was also dogged by a fire that gutted the recording studio, almost destroying the master tapes.
In November 1984, the Two Minute Warning album was released following a three-month recording session in Los Angeles. The American version of the album, on MCA, included a new version of the 1978 song "Be With You", which would become The Angels' last commercially available single in the United States. Metal Blade Records re-issued the album in 1990. Unfortunately for the band, an internal personnel purge at MCA meant that Two Minute Warning received no support from the label. MCA would later reject The Angels' next album.
As Angel City, they performed four songs for the 1985 Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program) - "Small Price", "Eat City", "Underground", "Take a Long Line". It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US.
John Brewster was fired from the band in late 1985. In his place, the band hired ex-Skyhooks guitarist Bob Spencer in March 1986. In October of the same year Howling was released on the band's new label Mushroom Records. This album included a cover version of The Animals hit, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" which, at #6, became the band's highest charting single up to that point. John Brewster joined The Party Boys in the meantime and stayed with them until 1989.
In December 1987, the double live album Liveline was released. The collection spanned ten years of the band's career. The majority of the album was recorded at the Bankstown RSL Club in Sydney, with some tracks taken from earlier tours featuring John Brewster. The CD version of Liveline included several songs not included on the vinyl release. A live version of "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" was issued as a single, as was a medley of "Love Takes Care" and "Be With You". Following the success of the album, The Angels embarked on a massive tour of Australia with a lengthy two-hour set that covered the entire history of the group.
Chrysalis Records in the US issued Beyond Salvation (the band now billing itself as The Angels From Angel City) in November 1989. It included four new songs, three of which would later appear on the Australian version of the album, and new recordings of the classics "I Ain't The One", "Can't Shake It", "Who Rings The Bell", "City Out of Control" and "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again", none of which was made available in Australia. Alan Niven was signed on as manager of the band's affairs in the US. At the time, Niven was also managing Great White and Guns N' Roses. Jim Hilbun left during these recording sessions and was replaced by Australian James Morley on bass. Alan Niven bailed out soon after.
Red Back Fever, parts of which were recorded in Memphis during the Beyond Salvation sessions, was released in November 1991. The band toured for two years, and the song "Tear Me Apart" was included a multi-million dollar government campaign highlighting alcohol related violence. In July 1992 Mushroom re-issued Red Back Fever / Left Hand Drive as a two CD set.
In 1992, both Bob Spencer and James Morley left the band. The next year, the New Zealand chapter of the Hells Angels asked the band to perform for them; to this end, the remaining members asked John Brewster and Jim Hilbun to return, and thus the classic line-up of Brewster-Neeson-Brewster-Eccles-Hilbun was reunited. They immediately set out to write new material. The first results of this collaboration were included on Evidence, a career-spanning collection of the band's hits.
In 1993, the band performed at a one-off gig at the University of Western Sydney, with The Angels co-headlining with The Screaming Jets. Other bands on the bill for the night included Mental as Anything, Peter Wells (formerly of Rose Tattoo) and one other small band from Tasmania.
In April 1995, The Hard Evidence Tour EP was issued to coincide with the Barbed Wire Ball tour, a national tour that also featured The Screaming Jets, The Poor and Who's Guilty. The band then took a break from recording and touring, reconvening in mid-1996 at Darling Harbour studios for the start of what would become the sessions for their last studio album.
The Angels hit the road with The Lounge Lizard Tour with Angry Anderson from Rose Tattoo and Ross Wilson from Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool in July 1997. The band backed each singer acoustically through classics from their respective bands. On 13 August 1997, The Angels signed a recording deal with Shock Records in Australia. A new single, "Caught in the Night", followed in October and a new album, Skin & Bone, in March of 1998. Though moderately successful, the album was nominated by ARIA as one of the year's best Australian recordings. On 20 October 1998, The Angels were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame by Angry Anderson. In November 1998 the band performed a brief set at the Concert of the Century in Melbourne to celebrate Mushroom Records' 25th anniversary.
In February 1999, Live Line - Definitive Digital Remaster was released. It was a two-CD set that contained ten bonus tracks, recorded between 1981 and 1983.
On New Year's Eve, 1999, The Angels performed what would be their last concert at the MGM Grand Darwin Millennium Concert. Doc Neeson announced his departure from the band following a major car accident that left him with neck and spinal injuries.
With Neeson's departure, the band effectively ceased. In November 2000, Shock Records reissued Left Hand Drive. The following year, the ABC featured The Angels in its music series program Long Way To The Top.
In March 2001, The Angels reformed as Members of The Angels with John and Rick Brewster, Buzz Bidstrup, Chris Bailey and Jim Hilbun on lead vocals for The Ted Mulry Benefit Concert (released on video as Gimme Ted). This name was used in line with an agreement made with Neeson not to call the band The Angels. On 24 June 2002, Shock issued The Complete Sessions 1980-1983, a 4-CD box set collection of the band's recorded output from the period between the Dark Room and Watch the Red albums. Around this time, Brewster, Brewster, Bailey and Bidtrup began touring as The Original Angels Band, a name they continued to use until November 2006. In the meantime, Neeson, Hilbun and Westfield chief executive David Lowy formed Red Phoenix who released an album and toured briefly during 2005.
In July 2006, Liberation reissued The Angels' catalogue. Albums included: Dark Room, Night Attack, Watch the Red, Two Minute Warning, Howling, Beyond Salvation, Red Back Fever, and Wasted Sleepless Night - The Definitive Greatest Hits.
On 4 December 2006, Live At The Basement was released, containing all the classics recorded by the line-up of Brewster, Bailey, Bidstrup and Brewster. This group was now once again using the name The Angels, apparently dishonouring their agreement with Neeson, leading to the singer taking legal action to prevent them using it. Neeson toured as Doc Neeson's Angels, with a line-up that included Hilbun, Lowy, Dave Leslie (ex-Baby Animals) and Paul Wheeler (ex-Icehouse) who was later replaced by Mick Skelton. Neeson released the album Acoustic Sessions featuring Jim Hilbun, Dave Leslie and Tim Powles on percussion and production through Liberation Blue on 1 September 2007. The Brewster-led band meanwhile released the EP "Ivory Stairs". It was assumed that Neeson's successful action would mean this line-up must bill itself as The Angels Band.
In October 2007 Neeson and band toured the Middle East playing 13 shows in 16 days for Australian servicemen and women in Afghanistan, Kuwait and other countries in the region.
In November 2007 on Rockwiz on SBS, Doc Neeson claimed the origins of the audience chanting "No way, get fucked, fuck off" as the response to the line "Am I ever gonna see your face again?" was from a DJ at the Mt Isa Blue Light Disco (a youth activity run by the local police).
Wasted Sleepless Nights was released on 11 July. It included live footage never before released and tracks recorded live from ABC's Studio 22.
On April 18, 2008, www.ozmusicscene.com announced that Doc Neeson had reunited with John Brewster, Rick Brewster, Chris Bailey, and Graham Bidstrup. The reformed band played a string of dates in July 2008 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their seminal album, Face to Face.
January 1977 - March 1981
March 1981 - April 1982
April 1982 - February 1985
March 1985 - July 1989
1990 - 1992
1993 - January 2000
Members of The Angels - March 2001
'''From December 2001 to November 2006 The Angels were known publicly as 'The Original Angels Band' featuring 4 of the 5 original members that made the band famous
2008 - The Reunion
|Year||Month||Label||Album||Artist credit||Chart positions|
|1978||August||Albert||Face to Face||TA||#16||-||-|
|1980||March||Epic||Face to Face (Overseas)||AC||-||-||-|
|1980||May||Albert||The Angels' Greatest||TA||#5||-||-|
|1980||June||Epic||Dark Room (Overseas)||AC||-||-||-|
|1982||February||Epic||Night Attack (Overseas)||AC||-||-||-|
|1983||May||Epic||Watch the Red||TA||#6||-||-|
|1984||November||Mushroom||Two Minute Warning||TA||#2||-||-|
|1985||January||MCA||Two Minute Warning (Overseas)||AC||-||-||-|
|1985||November||Epic||The Angels' Greatest Vol. II||TA||#14||-||-|
|1989||November||Chrysalis||Beyond Salvation (Overseas)||TAFAC||-||-||-|
|1991||November||Mushroom||Red Back Fever||TA||#14||-||-|
|1992||July||Mushroom||Red Back Fever / Left Hand Drive||TA||#28||-||-|
|1992||November||Albert||Their Finest Hour... and Then Some||TA||-||-||-|
|1998||March||Shock||Skin and Bone||TA||#27||-||-|
|1999||February||Shock||Live Line - Definitive Digital Remaster||TA||-||-||-|
|1999||May||Mushroom||Greatest Hits - The Mushroom Years||TA||-||-||-|
|2000||November||Shock||Left Hand Drive||TA||-||-||-|
|2002||April||Shock||The Complete Sessions 1980-1983||TA||-||-||-|
|2005||September||Independent Release MGM Distribution||Live at the Basement||TOAB||-||-||-|
|2006||July||Liberation||Wasted Sleepless Nights - The Definitive Best Of||TA||#22||-||-|
|Year||Label||Album||Artist credit||Chart positions|
|1976||Albert||Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?||TA||-||-||-|
|1977||Albert||You're a Lady Now||TA||-||-||-|
|1978||Albert||Take a Long Line||TA||#29||-||-|
|1978||RAM||Straight Jacket (promo flexi-disc)||TA||-||-||-|
|1978||Albert||The Tour EP||TA||-||-||-|
|1979||Albert||Out of the Blue EP||TA||#29||-||-|
|1980||Epic||Face the Day||TA||-||-||-|
|1981||Epic||Into the Heat||TA||-||-||-|
|1981||Epic||Never So Live EP||TA||#17||-||-|
|1981||Epic||Fashion and Fame (live)||TA||#17||-||-|
|1982||Epic||Living on the Outside||TA||-||-||-|
|1983||Epic||Live Lady Live||TA||-||-||-|
|1983||Epic||Is That You?||TA||-||-||-|
|1984||Epic||Between the Eyes||TA||AU||-||-|
|1984||Mushroom||Look the Other Way||TA||-||-||-|
|1985||Mushroom||Sticky Little Bitch||TA||-||-||-|
|1986||Mushroom||Nature of the Beast||TA||#22||-||-|
|1986||Mushroom||Don't Waste My Time||TA||#25||-||-|
|1987||Mushroom||We Gotta Get Out of This Place||TA||#6||-||-|
|1987||Mushroom||Can't Take Any More||TA||-||-||-|
|1987||Epic||4 Play Volume 6 EP||TA||-||-||-|
|1987||Mushroom||When the Time Comes||TA||-||-||-|
|1987||Mushroom||Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (live)||TA||-||-||-|
|1988||Mushroom||Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (live)||TA||#6||-||-|
|1988||Telegraph||Live From Angel City||TAFAC||-||US||-|
|1988||Mushroom||Finger on the Trigger||TA||-||-||-|
|1989||Chrysalis||Dogs Are Talking (promo)||TAFAC||-||-||-|
|1990||Mushroom||Let the Night Roll On||TA||#17||-||-|
|1990||Mushroom||Dogs Are Talking||TA||#11||-||-|
|1990||Mushroom||Back Street Pickup||TA||#23||-||-|
|1990||Mushroom||Rhythm Rude Girl||TA||-||-||-|
|1991||Mushroom||Bleeding With the Times||TA||-||-||-|
|1991||Mushroom||Some of That Love||TA||-||-||-|
|1992||Mushroom||Once Bitten Twice Shy||TA||-||-||-|
|1992||Mushroom||Tear Me Apart||TA||#33||-||-|
|1994||Mushroom||Don't Need Mercy||TA||-||-||-|
|1992||Mushroom||Turn It On||TA||-||-||-|
|1995||Mushroom||The Hard Evidence Tour EP||TA||-||-||-|
|1996||Dump||Call That Living||TA||-||-||-|
|1997||Shock||Caught in the Night||TA||-||-||-|
|1998||Shock||Invisible Man (promo)||TA||-||-||-|
|1998||Axe Killer||Soul Surgeon||TA||-||-||FR|
|1998||Shock||My Light Will Shine||TA||-||-||-|
|2007||Independent Release MGM Distribution||Ivory Stairs||TA1||-||-||-|
|Year||Label||Title||Artist credit||Catalogue no.|
|1998||Mushroom||Mushroom 25 Live||TA||MUSH25.2|
|2001||Sony||The Andrew Denton Breakfast Show - Musical Challenge Vol. 2||TA||5041282000|
|2003||Warner Vision||Gimme Ted - The Ted Mulry Benefit Concerts||TA||2564600802|