The Angels' No Exit, 40 Years On

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The Angels' No Exit, 40 Years On

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(Photo - No Exit album cover)

The Angels are about to start celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their classic No Exit album with a month-long tour which will see them perform the album in its entirety – along with a second set of other hits and favourites – in pubs around the country. Let's look back at this classic album and the days when the Angels were the most popular and powerful rock band in Australia.

The Angels entered 1979 on the rise. Their second album Face To Face  - which followed a patchy Vanda & Young produced debut, whose only real highlight was the perennial fan favourite "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?" – had been released on June 1, 1978, but took a while to gather momentum. In November 1978 they supported David Bowie on his national tour – which was fantastic exposure – and six months after its release the album was flying, and the band was a huge draw, almost now too big for the beer barns.

Face To Face had created a template – hard boogie in the classic Alberts "Blood & Thunder" style, tempered with an almost Dylanesque sense of melody on certain tracks (if you don't believe me, listen to "Love Takes Care" side by side by Bob's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue"), and focused into a dark almost punk-like attack on others. Certainly "Take A Long Line" and "Straight Jacket" were closer to punk than anything heard on Australian radio at the time, and their absurdist and dystopian lyrics were at odds with the unthinking physical response that their music encouraged in the pubs. 

That response was something to behold –in his brilliant tome Blood Sweat & Tears: Oz Rock From The Aztecs to Rose Tattoo author Murray Engleheart described their shows at this point as "sweat-soaked mini-Nuremberg rallies". Indeed the band used volume and aggression to almost hypnotise their audience in a similar way to Sydney's recently defunct underground rock giants Radio Birdman. That connection was made apparent on the first single from No Exit, "Shadow Boxer", which had the same down-stroke power attack – and a similar chord progression – to Birdman's anthem "New Race".

No Exit was released at the peak of the Angels' popularity, but strangely it never even cracked the Top 5. But times were different then - Face To Face went four times Platinum but never even made the Top Ten – and the band was up against mega-stars like Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Kiss, and the Bee-Gees. Indeed they were up against themselves – Face To Face, 19 months old at the end of 1979, came in ahead of No Exit on the year's best selling albums list at #17.   

No Exit would be the band's last album for Alberts. After one Vanda & Young-produced flop, and two hugely successful albums produced by Vanda & Young's protégé Mark Optitz, the band followed the money to CBS. They'd already signed a deal with CBS-affiliated Epic in the US, and maybe it was easier to keep everything aligned. The band would spend a good part of 1980 trying to break the US – where they were known as Angel City – and the UK. They became close to Cheap Trick and sowed the seeds for a future generation of fans that included Guns N’ Roses, but success wasn't forthcoming. They continued to have a massive presence on the local scene for the next decade; indeed most of their albums charted better than the now-iconic Alberts ones. Remarkably they never fell short of the Top 40 with their 90s albums either, up until their induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1997 and Doc Neeson's retirement in 1998. 

Let's have a look & listen to a short documentary on the making of the album, which is part of an ongoing series of clips the band is posting on YouTube to celebrate the album's anniversary. The No Exit - 40 Years On tour starts this week, full dates below. And, you can listen to the album in full on yur preffered streaming service below that. 

No Exit - 40 Years On Tour Dates                                                               

                                                                                                                 
Friday 28th June 2019
The Gov, ADELAIDE SA

Saturday 29th June 2019
The Gov, ADELAIDE SA

Friday 5th July 2019
Highfield Caringbah, CARINGBAH NSW

Saturday 6th July 2019
Pittwater RSL, PITTWATER NSW

Friday 12th July 2019
Gateway Hotel, GEELONG VIC

Saturday 13th July 2019
Village Green Hotel, MULGRAVE VIC

Friday 19th July 2019
The Triffid, BRISBANE QLD

Saturday 20th July 2019
Kingscliff Beach Hotel, KINGSCLIFF NSW

Friday 26th July 2019
Belmont 16ft, BELMONT NSW

Saturday 27th July 2019
Hornsby RSL, HORNSBY NSW

Listen to No Exit on Spotify

Listen to No Exit on Apple Music 

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