Employing a dazzling mix of glam rock, hard rock, and progressive rock, Angel's outrageous, white-satin-heavy image and equally over-the-top stage shows, made them one of the more colorful arena rock bands of the mid-'70s and early '80s. Discovered by Kiss bass player Gene Simmons, the group issued their eponymous debut album in 1975, which hewed closer to prog rock than the glam pop that would inform future endeavors like On Earth as It Is in Heaven (1977) and Sinful (1979). The group went their separate ways in 1981, but re-formed in the late '90s with a new lineup, and released two studio albums (1999's In the Beginning and 2019's Risen) and numerous compilations.
Formed in Washington, D.C., the group's self-titled 1975 debut was recorded for the flamboyant Casablanca Records label — home to Kiss — with a line-up comprising Frank DiMino (vocals), Punky Meadows (guitar, ex-BUX), Gregg Giuffria (keyboards), Mickie Jones (bass, ex-BUX), and Barry Brandt (drums). A heady slab of heavy pomp rock with lengthy songs swathed in Giuffria's atmospheric keyboards and featuring the longtime stage favorite "Tower," it was followed in 1976 by Helluva Band, which continued in a similar vein, with the group's famous white satin stage clothing making its debut on the album sleeve. On Earth as It Is in Heaven saw a distinct change in musical direction, as the band adopted a a more pop/rock-oriented sound, and introduced a clever logo that read identically when upside down.
1978's White Hot, with Felix Robinson replacing Jones, was helped by Eddie Leonetti's sympathetic production, and produced minor U.S. hits in "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" and "The Winter Song." Leonetti subsequently produced Sinful and the in-concert set Live Without a Net. Angel's record sales never quite reflected their popularity as a live act, and a legal dispute with PolyGram prompted the band's breakup in 1981. Giuffria attempted to revive the band in 1984, but the abortive reunion led to the formation of the more successful House of Lords. Robinson, meanwhile, appeared in an early White Lion line-up and played with 707. Brandt and DiMino re-formed Angel in the late '90s to record In the Beginning, with the help of guitarist and songwriter Richard Marcello. They staged an Angel reunion of sorts by persuading former colleagues Robinson and Meadows to play on the track "Set Me Free."
The group performed off and on during the early 2000s and issued a handful of compilation albums. Bassist and founding member Mickie Jones passed away in 2009 after battling liver cancer. Punky Meadows released a solo LP, Fallen Angel, in 2016, and in 2018, Meadows and DiMino toured under the name Frank DiMino & Punky Meadows of Angel. The band officially re-formed the following year with Meadows and DiMino joined by Danny Farrow, Steve E. Ojane, Billy Orrico, and Charlie Calv. The newly reactivated Angel released their seventh studio effort, Risen, later that October. ~ James Christopher Monger