Almanac Music: The Doctor Will See You Now – Five Oz Rock Classics by The Angels

 

 

The Angels, 2008. [Wikimedia Commons.]

 

Almanac Music: The Doctor Will See You Now – Five Oz Rock Classics by The Angels

 

In the late nineteen seventies / early eighties, one of my favourite Australian bands was The Angels (called Angel City and The Angels from Angel City in other parts of the world), headed by the dynamic, theatrical frontman / lead vocalist, Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson. The group’s classic line-up consisted of ‘Doc’, Rick Brewster – lead guitar, John Brewster – rhythm guitar, Chris Bailey (not the one from The Saints) – bass guitar and Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup – drums.

 

As many would know, especially my contemporaries from that era, The Angels were the epitome of hard, heavy, driving pub rock. (Imagine a smoky, beery, packed hotel venue, sweaty dance floor and a band blasting out very loud, fast-paced music and you are more than half-way there.) The group has a particularly important place in my musical pantheon, as the pub band I played in around 1979-81, Murmurs, covered a number of Angels tracks as part of our repertoire.

 

 

 

 

The Angels’ second studio album Face to Face (1978), was a particular favourite of ours (indeed, my band’s original, short-lived name was Face to Face) and we played ‘After The Rain’, ‘Take A Long Line’ and ‘Marseilles’ (these three songs written by John Brewster, Rick Brewster and ‘Doc’ Neeson) from that record. We also covered ‘Shadow Boxer’ (J. Brewster, R. Brewster, ‘Doc’ Neeson) from The Angels’ third album, No Exit (1979).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Angels have performed with various line-ups from 1974-2000 and 2008-the present. Sadly, key members Chris Bailey died in 2013 and ‘Doc’ Neeson in 2014.

 

 

 

 

Oh – and how could my collection of classic songs by The Angels not include ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?’ by J. Brewster, R. Brewster and ‘Doc’ Neeson (first released as a ballad in 1976, then later put out as the full-on rock song many know and love), even if I didn’t play it in a band I was in! This song, also, caused me to produce my favourite personal mondegreen. Originally, I thought the opening lines were ‘Went down to Santa Fe / Where Manuel paints the walls’, when of course the lines are actually ‘When down to St Tropez / Where Renoir paints the walls’. I wasn’t that far off, really – was I?

 

 

 

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says

    What a great band, and what a charismatic frontman Doc was. Love all the songs you have listed. Sadly, they are one of the great Aussie bands I’ve never seen live that I wished I had.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your comments, Luke.

    Actually, I think The Angels’ music is a bit neglected these days, which was one of the reasons why I assembled this post.

  3. Sadly neglected when you consider that at their peak their sound was as ferocious as any going around, topped off with an intense and theatrical front man. Many have forgotten just how good some of this ‘pub rock’ really was.

    I reckon their live recordings stand up better than their studio recordings these days. Their live work truly captures the energy of their music.

    There was a doco on ABC iView recently about their legendary Narara gig in 1983. I didn’t realise they weren’t even headlining that night – Men At Work had to follow them. Yeah, good luck with that!

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Great stuff, Greg – right on the money.

    I’ll certainly have to check out that doco on ABC iView.

    Incidentally, the pub band I was in – referred to in my article – did support Men at Work at the Eureka Hotel in Geelong, but never The Angels, unfortunately. (If we did, though, we’d had to have changed our songlist that evening!)

  5. It is a brave band that attempts an Angels cover in front of an Angels crowd! Somehow survive the shower of cans and glasses and you still have to deal with the band themselves!
    Can’t begrudge Men at Work for selling a few records in their time, but they weren’t really my scene.

    The ABC doco was part of a series presented by Diesel which focuses on iconic gigs interspersed with interviews with the key players. There were also episodes on Hunters & Collectors ‘final’ gig at Selinas and Rose Tattoo at Boggo Road Gaol.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Greg – thanks for your further comments, and the extra info about the doco.

    Our discussion has also reminded me what an iconic venue Geelong’s Eureka Hotel (right in the middle of town) was for OZ Rock – just about everybody who was anybody played there in its halcyon days. (I’m talking basically seventies and eighties in this context.) It was a pretty rough pub, too, back then.

  7. Cheers Kevin.

    I remember hearing an interview with John Brewster a few years back where he told of driving along Adelaide’s North East Rd in the band’s early days going from pub to pub seeking a residency. The pubs are still there but they now have pokies instead of bands.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Hi again Greg – that’s how it was back in those days, in my experience. The starting-out band would basically audition at the pub concerned in order to get a gig or residency and accumulate work that way. The main band I was in, Murmurs, got our first residency at the Little River Hotel (yes, the pub in Little River, the country town between Geelong and Melbourne that gave Little River Band its name), and we’d regularly play Friday nights there. We auditioned at that hotel one quiet Saturday arvo and the people at the pub liked us enough to give us a go.

    And yes, as we all know, discos/night clubs and pokies certainly took over a lot of the pub activity as time went on, to the considerable detriment of the live music scene.

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