It’s hard to believe, but it has been four decades since the release of The Angels sophomore album Face to Face. The seminal release firmly put the band on the map – both in Australia and internationally – spawning tracks that still hold an iconic place in Aussie music history such as Take A Long Line, Marseilles, After The Rain and Be With You, to name a few. The multi-platinum release was described as a ‘watershed’ for the band and changed the way Australian bands toured.
Take A Long Line is one of The Angels most loved songs. It was a smash for the Face to Face album, peaking in the national single charts at #26 and remaining there for a massive 29 weeks. The album itself remained in the charts for a year-and-a-half – an impressive achievement for a band on their second release, and one who, unbeknown to them at the time, would create the musical soundtrack of a generation.
“It was 1978, our Face The Face album was released and could be heard in backyards all over the country,” says Rick Brewster. “The era of ‘pub rock’ had begun. Bands like Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Divinyls, Flowers, Rose Tattoo, Mi-Sex, we were all playing venues around the country filled to overflowing, seven nights a week – punters hanging from the rafters, queues around the block.
Take A Long Line was roaring up the charts, and Face To Face was up to triple platinum sales. We never even stopped to think about it. Only years later did we reflect on what an incredible, never-to-be-repeated, slice of rock history we were caught up in.”
There was something about The Angel’s music that stood them apart. The songwriting partnership of Brewster/Neeson/Brewster, creating great rock songs – timeless in both lyrics and melody – written for the band and for the live audiences. This true grit, something that inherently appealed to the Australian market, created a legend that has stayed with the band until today. Laying down the tracks for the Face The Face album in the famed Alberts’ studios, was the start of something fresh. “The music stood out as something new, raw and brooding with provocative lyrics,” says Rick. “The album totally complemented the live shows we were presenting.”
The Angels got the approval from the people that mattered most, the fans who jammed into the sweaty pubs to see them play, something that hasn’t wavered in the almost five decades since the band’s inception. “The audiences were part of the process because in almost all cases, we wrote the songs and played them onstage,” recalls John Brewster. “Everything we did was in front of people. It wasn’t hard to see what was going over well.
”Reminiscing about those times solidifies that there is something very special about The Angels. They paid their dues, touring up and down the country-rocking’ out to big crowds, small crowds and everything in between – and cut their teeth the way all bands worth their salt did, performing live seven nights a week. “After four years of hard slog around this wonderful country in the old 1964 EH Holden Station Wagon playing dives for peanuts and struggling to pay the bank back the loans, Rick writes Take A Long Line, I write I Ain’t The One, Doc takes the backing track of Straight Jacket to the front office of Alberts and comes back with the lyric,” says John. “Doc gets the idea for the demented aristocrat from his years studying drama at Flinders University and we discover our sound – what a year!”
Four decades on and the music is still speaking to people – young and old. It’s not just music fans who discovered The Angels back in the day who still attend the concerts. Now the audience is made up of all ages, all walks of life. The music spans generations, bridges age gaps and has a longevity that will no doubt see songs such as Marseilles, Comin’ Down On Me, After The Rain … still resonating with people four more decades down the road. As a band, The Angels are as powerful a force as ever, selling out shows, performing coveted festival spots and always working on new material.
Their recent biography – The Angels by Bob Yates – was just the tip of the iceberg, the story up until now, but there is still so much more to come. It was – has always been, and always will be – about the live music and that’s why The Angels are taking Face The Face out on the road again.