The Midlands Rocks
for everything that ROCKS across the Midlands, UK

ArcAngel

Review by Brian McGowan

Formed by Jeff Cannata and Michael Soldan from the ashes of art rock band, Jasper Wraith, ArcAngel was something of a supergroup prequel. Back in 1983, Cannata brought in some of the best musicians in the business to record this new batch of songs he’d written and demoed with Soldan. James (HOL) Christian on bgvs; Hugh (Bon Jovi) McDonald on bass and Jeff (Clapton/Roth/Meatloaf) Bova on keyboards, to name but three.

The recording has now been re-released, with a bonus track, on Cannata’s own label, Oxford Circus.

It would be written off today as being too lightweight, but aficionados recognise its elevated position in the pomp rock pantheon. It’s undoubtedly a genre piece, and Jeff Cannata’s remastering has ensured a crisp, clear sound with impressive separation and dynamics, if a little over programmed at times. In its day it jostled for elbow room with material from other class acts like Harlequin, Hybrid Ice and Aviary.

All the tracks here are sleek, uncluttered pomp/prog rock, alternately shadowy and majestic, produced and arranged with a magician’s touch, deeply rooted in what seems now like a distant, golden era. Cannata himself did not have the most distinctive of voices. His sweet tenor acquits itself well and suits the music, but worked against wider acclaim for his new band.

Of the ten tracks, a few standout from others. ‘Tragedy’ had a poppier slant and a flavour of youthful romanticism that was endemic to the genre, and got good coverage on MTV. Cannata frequently aimed for an intimate, spacey sweep and singularly succeeds with ‘Used To Think I’d Never Fall In Love’, where the musical arrangement is delicate with melancholy keys brushing against angelic harmonies.

And again on other quality tracks like the uplifting ‘Stars’ and the hooky ‘Sidelines’ there’s a clearly audible purity of sound, uncontaminated by the gathering rock’n’roll storm that was to engulf the music business in the next decade.

The bonus track is a gilt edged cover of King Crimson’s seminal ‘Court Of The Crimson King’. Which in itself tells you all you need to know about Arc Angel.

Rating 7/10

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