Mapleshade

Rain of Fire

FALLEN ANGELS:

Rain Of Fire

Here’s our first rock CD. If you like “Desperado” or “Hotel California”-era Eagles, I think you’ll dig the Fallen Angels too. They were one of most the popular underground rock-blues-folk bands on the East Coast in the late ’60s; their Roulette LPs are now $200 collectors’ classics. A few years ago, I heard the great new songs of the recently reunited Angels and figured I’d try to make the most live-sounding studio rock CD ever. You’ll hear the soulful wail of ’60s guitars through warm old Fender amps, the mellow lead singer’s whiskey-throated folk-rock moan, the solar plexus impact of electric bass and double kick drum. (#05852)

Jack Bryant, vocals/acoustic guitar/electric bass**/keyboards*
Jack Lauritsen, electric guitar
Wally Cook, electric guitar
Larry willis, keyboards, B-3 organ
Kevin Armstrong, electric bass
Tom Mansell, drums
Esther Williams, backing vocals
Ted Carpenter, backing vocals
Nick Smith, backing vocals
Sunny Cook, backing vocals
Charlie Hubel, harmonica

 

TRACK LISTING:

1.
MOMMA ALLAH - Listen to full song
2.
ALL IN ALL - Listen to sample
3.
I CLOSE MY EYES - Listen to sample
4.
EVERYTHING WOULD BE FINE
5.
BABE
6.
CHAR ON THE ROAD
7.
YOU ARE THE ONE
8.
JUST LIKE THAT
9.
DREAMS UPON DREAMS
10.
TODAY IS
11.
JUST THINK
12.
I'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU
13.
EVERY TIME I FALL IN LOVE

 

REVIEWS:

FI Magazine:
reviewed by Frank Doris

And now for something completely different, as the purveyors of that famous mythical anthology, Every Record Ever Recorded, used to say. From Wildchild, a division of audiophile label Mapleshade Productions, comes Rain of Fire, an album of neo-psychedelic music from Fallen Angels, a band that burned brightly and burned out just as quickly in the Sixties, to be reborn thirty years later in a manner no one could have predicted.

The story goes: the Fallen Angels were one of the many bands that achieved regional notoriety—in their case, the Washington, DC area—without attaining national success. After releasing two albums on Roulette Records that were not properly promoted by the label (and are treasured by collectors of psychedelia) the group disbanded for "all the usual reasons," as the liner notes so succinctly put it. Thirty years later, Rick Hallock, Mapleshade's Director of Marketing, tracked down Jack Bryant, the band's leader, and convinced the band to reform (with all the original members except for a new drummer). Eight months of songwriting and rehearsals ensued in preparation for a new album, in "a cavernous basement where you had to thread your way through a jungle...of blown speakers, disemboweled amps, rusting motorcycle engines, primer-grey custom car hoods and mildewing psychedelic posters." In that "junk-lined time capsule," the reborn Angels revived.

The album sounds like it came from a time capsule—and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. That's because the music re-captures that elusive feeling of Sixties music—the feeling of complete anything-goes musical freedom and experimentation, without formulaic restrictions, and the feeling that we were all embarking upon a journey into a blissful new era of peace, love and happiness. Not a heavy, trippy, fuzz-guitar drenched album in the vein of, say, Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida or an extended improv-freak out in the manner of some early Grateful Dead albums, Rain of Fire is rather more evocative of bands like the legendary band Love, with its emphasis on plaintive vocals, soaring vocal harmonies and lilting pop songcraft. It's an open, inviting sound, one which takes me back to a time when anything seemed possible.

Well, the Fallen Angels got their chops back together for this album, all right—they had to, 'cause it was recorded live-to-two-track without any overdubs! In keeping with Pierre Sprey's philosophy of ultra-purist recording, Rain of Fire was recorded at Mapleshade's studio onto two-track analog tape, digitized on a custom A/D converter at "2,823K samples per second," using minimum miking, minimum audiophile-quality cabling, with no mixing board, filtering, compression, equalization or noise reduction. Just a band playing their hearts out, the moments captured forever. A little loose, a little funky, a little rough-all the more charming and human-sounding, a real band playing real music—you know, the way it used to be?

And it sounds it—the recording is you-are-there alive and present, a band playing and grooving in your room. Exceptional sonic purity, "air" and resolution of the finest musical nuances, from the "ping" of the cymbals to the transient clarity and "pluck" of the acoustic guitars. Thrilling dynamic range and instrumental "kick." Vocals that are among the most realistically-recorded on disc—Jack Bryant's sweet, emotive singing on "I Close My Eyes" and hiccuping tremolo effects on "Everything Would Be Fine" send the proverbial chills up my spine every time, as he sounds like he is right there in front of me. Electric guitars that sound remarkably "real," from the unmistakable "moaning" sound of the Fender Stratocaster to the wah-wah'd distortion of a humbucker-equipped guitar (a Gibson semi-hollow?) overdriving an amp cranked to near destruction. (I would have mixed the guitars a little louder, but it wasn't my bread that paid for this record!)

Kudos to the band and to Mapleshade for having the cojones to pull this off. Not everyone's cup of psychedelically-spiked punch, to be sure—but I have to say I really dig this.