[An Under-Appreciated AOR Gem] -- I posted about Arc Angel three years ago on Prophet or Madman. Still, I still feel this particular album continues to go overlooked, so I'm digging up the previous post and re-sharing it here (with minor changes) on Bookended by Cats. Besides, cats love 80s hair metal, right? Right! So, here we go!
But before we get to the music, I feel the need to wax a little nostalgic about the nature of pre-digital music consumerism. I trust you'll bear with me.
When I was in high school, finding new music was much harder than it is today. Let me elaborate: discovering and then purchasing new music was much more difficult. OK, maybe that's still too broad a generalization or at least too much of a blanket statement. I have to assume that folks in larger metropolitan areas had easier access to new and different kinds of music because, generally speaking, they had more radio options. I, however, lived just west of ... well, let's just say the closest "metropolitan" area to my little hamlet was several hours away. We had but two radio stations -- one AM, and one FM. Oh, on particularly clear days you could maybe sniff out one or two other stations. And if you had cable TV, you could connect the cable to your stereo and access some city stations. However, no matter what radio options existed, when you tuned in, you were still subject to the whim of (usually) real human disc jockeys and -- to one extent or another -- their dedication to the record charts. Oh, there were a few renegades who played whatever the heck they wanted, but they tended to have very short tenures because their corporate overlords frowned upon such diversity.
Outside of radio, we had music magazines and -- later in my high school career -- MTV. Now, when you found out about something new and potentially interesting, you still had to get it in your hot little hands. For those of us that had limited access to decent record stores (yes, vinyl records and cassette tapes), there was mail order. I'm not talking about mail order record clubs (at least not exclusively). I'm talking about ads in the back of magazines (or as part of an interview) that directed you to send away for a particular artist's release. In the early days of MTV, particularly the late night music shows, a featured band would provide a P.O. Box you could contact and order the record that had been played. Such an order could take up to eight weeks to reach you -- talk about delayed gratification!
Back in that halcyon era of music, my good friend Joseph and I would regularly share our discoveries with each other. For example, I found Bronz on MTV's Headbangers Ball while he found Tokyo Blade (in a Metal Blade Records catalog, if I recall correctly). I don't remember which one of us found this week's featured Flashback artist, Arc Angel, but it might have been him. I base that on the fact that I have a TDK cassette of their debut, but no LP. Regardless, I'm glad I remember them. Arc Angel was essentially Jeff Cannata and Michael Soldan along with a host of studio musicians. The concept was developed after Cannata and Soldan's previous band, Jasper Wrath, folded in 1976. They continued writing songs together and, in the early 80s, pitched a demo to CBS who signed the duo to a deal. Arc Angel's self-titled debut album was released in 1983. Although the album was a hit in Europe, and the band had a music video showcased on MTV (for their sole official music video), success in the US was not forthcoming. My guess is that it was buried in the wave of other releases ... and poor reviews from dismissive critics.
If you are a fan of AOR with great guitar licks, 80s synths, and just a hint of prog that prevents a full spiral into glam, then you owe it to yourself to get swept up by Arc Angel. (And if you're looking for them on download sites like eMusic, then you'll need to search under CANNATA). For a few selections from Arc Angel's debut, read and hear more after the break.