Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hear the Angels, Join the Choir

File this under Guilty Pleasures.

I'm not a huge heavy metal fan. And when you get past David Bowie and Mott the Hoople, I'm not big on glam.

So how do I explain this:

was a heavy metal glam band from Washington DC led by Punky Meadows and the late Mickey Jones. The band was discovered by Gene Simmons from Kiss and eventually signed to Kiss's label Casablanca Records. They had absurdly long hair and their gimmick was that they always wore white. And they appeared in the 1980 movie Foxes (starring Jodie Foster, Laura Dern, Randy Quaid, Cherie Currie, and Scott Baio) essentially playing themselves.

To my mind, almost all their songs sounded the same -- and although it was interesting to hear a glam version of the Young Rascals' "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" once, it didn't seem like it was something I'd need to hear again and again (it stalled out at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100, so I guess I'm not the only one who felt that way).

And then, in the late 70s, one of their songs snuck onto the radio around Christmas. It didn't really sound like any of their other material. And I couldn't get enough of it. Back then, DJs used to identify the records they played, so at least I knew the name of the band (Angel) and the name of the song ("The Winter Song").

But these were the pre-internet days, so I didn't have any idea what album the song was on (or what the cover looked like). And I didn't have any friends who liked the band, so I couldn't borrow the album from anyone. So I did what I always did -- I spent months searching through the various used-record stores in town until I found it. One scuffed-up copy with a big scratch at the end of Side One. But otherwise, the album was in good shape.

So, ignoring the hideous cover, I plunked down my 85 cents and bought the record.

I listened to the entire record once. But I've listened to "The Winter Song" (last track on Side Two) dozens of times.

God help me -- I love the sleigh bells, the cheesey 70s synths, the "little drummer boy" rhythm, the choir, the call-and-response in the later choruses, the layered sound that slowly fades off to infinity, and the way the song always makes me think of a fresh snowfall.

I'm pretty sure this confession should cost me every last shred of street cred I've ever imagined I had (or might have in the future). But it's the holiday season -- and everyone has a few guilty pleasures.

I told you one of mine; tell me one of yours.


Steve said...

"Little Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

Mister Pleasant said...

Wow Alex, that was brave confession. That is truly the most gag inducing LP cover I have ever seen. Did you wear a disguise when you bought it? :) The song does have a nice mood.

A guilty pleasure for me would be Jive Talkin' by the Bee Gees. Love Maurice's bass line.

Sarah said...

Not specifically festive,but I'd have to say The Day I Met Marie, Cliff Richard....
If Cliffy ever had a secret heroin addiction(doubtful) this is the song he would have written about it ;)

Sarah said...

Oh, and I unashamedly *love* Little Drummer Boy, love Bowies festive jumper!

Alex said...

Mr. P, I didn't wear a disguise, but I'm pretty sure I hid it under a copy of My Aim Is True that I bought on the same trip. I don't think the sales clerk made a remark about the Angel album, but I'm fairly sure there was an eyebrow or two raised.

Alex said...

Steve & Sarah, your secrets are safe with us! :)

blackleatherbookshelf said...

Hah hah - ANGEL are one of my MANY guilty pleasure bands. Others include Kiss, Billy Squire, The Romantics, The Osmond Brothers, The Jonas Brothers, The Royal Gaurdsman and The Knack.

You can now commence throwing veggies.

blackleatherbookshelf said...

PS. There's even a re-mixed version where they changed "Winter" to "Christmas." LOL!

Alex said...

Tbrough, No veggies from me. And I could make a case that three and a half of the guilty pleasures you named are underrated, not guilty pleasures.

I was wondering why in the late 1970s, the band would substitute "Winter" for "Christmas" -- and then I remembered there's already a song called "The Christmas Song"!

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Welp, my secret enjoyment of the Moody Blues at their most pretentious has always been enough to get me in trouble amongst the smart set and I honestly can't blame them :-)

Alex, are The Romantics one of tbrough's 3.5 that you'd rate as underrated? I can still recall a friend long ago saying I should give them a listen, but I never did & have felt somewhat guilty ever since ...

Alex said...

Who, I'd give the Romantics at least a half-underrated. Their first album is a power-pop masterpiece (although I'm not sure those suits were ever a good idea) and some of their later work was quite good as well.

Plus, I like to think of the Romantics as Kiss with good songs -- "What I Like About You" has been used in so many commercials that the band probably earned more from the licensing than from anything else they've ever done!