The Fallen Angels


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-66)

- Jack Bryant -- vocals, bass, kazoo 
- Wally Cook -- lead guitar 
- Howard Danchik -- keyboards, flute 

- Ned Davis -- drums, percussion 

- Charlie Jones -- vocals, guitar, harp

 

  line up 2 (1966)

- Jack Bryant -- vocals, bass, kazoo 
- Wally Cook -- lead guitar 
- Howard Danchik -- keyboards, flute 

- Ned Davis -- drums, percussion 

- Rocky Isaacs -- drums (replaced Ned Davis)

- Charlie Jones -- vocals, guitar, harp 

 

  line up 3 (1966-69)

- Jack Bryant -- vocals, bass, kazoo
- Wally Cook -- lead guitar 
- Howard Danchik -- keyboards, flute 
NEW - Richard Kumer -- drums, percussion (replaced Rocky Isaacs) 
NEW - Jack Lauritsen (RIP 2009) -- guitar, sitar, vibes (replaced Charlie Jones) 

 

  line up 4 (1969)

- Jack Bryant -- vocals, bass, kazoo
- Wally Cook -- lead guitar 
- Howard Danchik -- keyboards, flute 
- Jack Lauritsen (RIP 2009) -- guitar, sitar, vibes

NEW - John Thumper Molloy -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Richard Kumer)

 

  line up 6 (1997-99)

- Kevin Armstrong -- bass

- Jack Bryant -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards

- Wally Cook -- lead guitar
- Jack Lauritsen (RIP 2009) -- guitar

- Tom Mansell -- drums, percussion

- Larry Willis -- keyboards

  backing musicians:  (1998)
- Ted Carpenter -- backing vocals
- Sunny Cook -- backing vocals
- Charlie Hubel -- harmonica

- Nick Smith -- backing vocals

- Esther Williams -- backing vocals

 

  line up 6 (2010-11)

- Jack Bryant -- vocals, bass
- Wally Cook -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Charlie "CJ" Jones -- harp, backing vocals
- Billy Hancock -- guitar, bass, backing vocals
- Brint Hannay -- guitar, pedal steel, backing vocals

- John Thumper Molloy -- drums, percussion

 

 

 

 

- The Mad Hatters (Richard Kumer)

- The Young Rabbits (Wally Cook)

 

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Fallen Angels

Company: Roulette

Catalog: R 25258

Year: 1967

Country/State: Annapolis, Maryland.

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1063

Price: $75.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Based in Washington, D.C., guitarist Wally Cook had been a member of The Young Rabbits.  In 1965 he hooked up with singer/bassist Jack Bryant and singer/guiatrist Charlie Jones to form The Disciples.  Within a matter of months they became The Uncalled, followed by a shift to The Fallen Angels.  The name changes were accompanied by a series of personnel changes, resulting in a line up consisting of Bryant, Cook, keyboardist Howard Danchik, drummer Richard Kumer and guitarist Jack Lauritsen.  Under the tutelage of managers Barry Seidel and Tony Traynor (who'd previously managed Kumer in The Mad Hatters), 1967 saw the group signed by Laurie Records.   Laurie quickly financed a pair of singles:

 

 

- 1966's 'Everytime I Fall In Love' b/w 'I Have Found' (Laurie catalog number LR-3343)

- 1967's 'Have You Ever Lost a Love?' b/w 'A Little Love From You Will Do' (Laurie catalog number LR-3369). 

promotional photo: 


Switching to the New York based Roulette Records, saw the band make their label debut with the release of 1967's "The Fallen Angels".   For their part Roulette executives were probably hoping to repeat their Tommy James and the Shondells successes. Boy were the in for a rude surprise. With Seidel and Traynor producing, the band turned in an overlooked psychedelic classic. Largely written by Bryant and Danchik, material such as 'Room At the Top', 'Introspective Looking Glass', and 'Painted Bird' was full of lysergic-tinged lyrics, weird timings, fuzz guitar, and assorted sound effects - simply too psychedelic for mainstream consumption.  Not that these guys couldn't write something with mass appeal.   'Love, Don't Talk To Strangers' and ' Introspective Looking Glass' offered up slices of Baroque pop that should have had massive appeal to anyone into The Left Banke.  '
I've Been Thinking' was a radio-ready rocker, while 'It Might Be Easier To Stay Home' was the kind of rocking tune John Sebastian could only dream about writing.  To my ears it was simply mesmerizing, though the set wasn't perfect. Bryant certainly had a nice enough voice, but when the lysergic effects were slapped on the mix, the results were best described as anonymous.  Add to that Seidel's dull, needless and distracting horn arrangements and, yes, there were a couple of dull spots on the album. Still, the overall results were well worth hearing.


"The Fallen Angels" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Room At the Top (John Bryant) - 2:35

Penned by Bryant, 'Room At the Top' was a driving pseudo-garage tune that showcased Richard Kumer's powerhouse drumming and some Wally Cook sitar touches (actually it sounded like an electric guitar given an odd tuning).  The band actually gave the track a cool, pseudo-British feel (imagine Mick Jagger fronting a true guitar band).  Always loved the freak-out fade.  Roulette tapped the track as the lead-off single.    rating: **** stars
2.) Love, Don't Talk To Strangers (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 1:52

One of the album's more pop oriented tunes, 'Love, Don't Talk To Strangers' actually sounded a bit like a Left Banke slice of Baroque pop.   Pretty and would have made a nice single for the group.  rating: **** stars
3.) Your Friends Here In Dunderville  (John Bryant) - 2:23

Psych--meets-jug band ?   Quite strange, but enjoyable in a goofy fashion.   rating: *** stars
4.) I've Been Thinking (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 1:46

'I've Been Thinking' found the band going back to an up-tempo rock format.  The result was one of the album's most conventional, but enjoyable tunes. In fact, the only thing wrong with the song was that it was too short.   rating: **** stars
5.) It Might Be Easier To Stay Home (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 2:07

'It Might Be Easier To Stay Home' was a Lovin Spoonful-styled slice of pop, though with an edge that John Sebastian and company could only dream about.   Hey, there was a kazoo solo too boot !  rating: *** stars

6.) Most Children Do (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 3:10

Lysergic tinged ballad with a nice Wally Cook sitar solo and some tasteful horns.   Imagine a stoned Simon and Garfunkle and you'll have a feel for this one.  Bryant reformed the band in the '90s and even though they were a bit older (Bryant was a grandfather), based on this YouTube clip, they were still quite impressive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgOX8305Euw      rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Introspective Looking Glass (Howard Danchik) - 2:25

Another slice of Left Banke-styled Baroque pop, though with a heavier lysergic element than the former ever recorded.  rating: **** stars
2.) I Don't Want To Fall (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 2:18

Hum, a little weak on the wave-you're-freak-flag subtety scale and how often do you hear a lyric that references eastern standard time ?,  Still, this was 1968 so I guess it's excusable, though didn't make for one of the album's better tracks.   rating: *** stars
3.) No Way Out (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 2:39 

'No Way Out' sounded like an attempt to cross a Beatles melody with a Monty Python sound collage.  Pass.    rating: ** stars
4.) Painted Bird (John Bryant - Howard Danchik) - 2:20

Stoned Lovin' Spoonful ...   rating: **** stars
5.) Your Mother's Homesick Too  (George Meler Jr. - Robert Decker) - 2:17

Great tune for anyone who didn't think psych could be tuneful.   rating: **** stars
6.) You Have Changed (Howard Danchik) -2 :27

The album closed with the band taking a full dive into the lysergic pool.   Imagine The Stones recording a true garage rocker after spending a week drinking spiked koolade.   Propelled by Kumer's frenetic drumming, this brought everything to the party; Bryant's stone vocals, various studio sound effects, Cook's slashing lead guitar solo ...   and the goofy end-of-song vocal segment was a perfect way to end the album.   rating: **** stars

 

As mentioned, the album spun off a single:

 

- 1968's 'Room at the Top' b/w 'Your Friends Here in Dunderville' (Roulette catalog number R-4770)

 

The same year, Philco (best known for manufacturing radios),  reached into the album to release two tracks as part of the company's Hip Pocket experiment (4" flexi-discs):

 

  

 

- 1968's 'Room At the Top' b/w 'Most Children Do' (Philco catalog number HP-23)

 

Roulette also released a non-LP single, which, powered by a nifty Bryant bass line, was actually better than quite a few of the LP tracks:

 

 

- 'Hello Girl' b/w 'Most Children Do' Roulette catalog number R-4785)

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  It's A Long Way Down

Company: Roulette

Catalog: SR 42011

Year: 1969

Country/State: Annapolis, Maryland.

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor ring and edge wear; plays with occasional hissing in softer passages, but no skips

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4990

Price: $300.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Released within a matter of months of their debut album, "It's a Long Way Down" showcased substantial artistic growth within the band.  With managers Barry Seidel and Tony Traynor again co-producing, musically their sophomore album wasn't a major stylistic change from the debut, offering up another mix of folk rock, pop, and psych moves.  That said, the album had a better overall production sound and with the exception of a couple of throwaway tunes, the band exhibited considerably more confidence in the studio.  Adding guitarist Jack Lauritsen to the band line up and songwriting collective, ballads such as the acid soaked 'Horn Playing on My Thin Wall' and the jazzy-tinged 'Look at the Wind' were to-kill-for numbers showcasing the band's commercial side.  Elsewhere, material like the lead off track 'Poor Old Man', 'Something You Can Hide In' and 'I'll Drive You from My Mind' underscored the band's trippier edge with great Wally Cook fuzz guitar, Howard Danchik's stabbing organs and lysergic spiked droning vocals.  Ironically, for a guy who's never been a big singer/songwriter fan, one of the album's standout performances came in the form of John Bryant's acoustic ballad 'Look to the Sun'.  

So, perhaps I biased by the fact these guys were from my neck to the woods, but having listened to this album dozens of times over the years, I'll tell you it is one of those rare, overlooked mid-'60s psych classics.   True, not every song on here was a psychedelic masterpiece ('Look to the Sun', 'I Love My Mother'), but so what ?  Song-for-song this beat the crap out of many  better known releases that are now widely held up as rock classics.   Well worth looking for a copy, even though originals will cost you an arm and a leg.   

 

Unfortunately, unhappy with the band's harder edged sound and ongoing lack of sales, Roulette didn't bother with a single and quickly dropped them from its recording roster and by the end of 1969 the members had called it quits. 


"It's a Long Way Down" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Poor Old Man   (John Bryant - Howard Danchik - Jack Lauritsen) - 3:41

Opening up with a driving bass, guitar, and keyboard riff, 'Poor Old Man' combined a nifty, dark foreboding aura with a classic slice of anti-establishment commentary that managed to be surprisingly subtle, but effective.   Yeah, the track briefly got lost mid-song, but eventually found itself back on track and coupled with some nice lysergic production touches, it was a great way to start the album.   rating: **** stars
2.) Horn Playing on My Thin Wall   (John Bryant - Jack Lauritsen) - 4:25

In spite of the goofy title, 'Horn Playing on My Thin Wall ' showcased the band's more conventional side.  A simply beautiful slice of Baroque/folk-rock with a lysergic edge, this was easily one of the album highlights.  Imagine a stoned version of The Left Banke and you'd have a feel for the sound.  rating: **** stars
3.) Something You Can Hide In   (John Bryant) - 3:59

Showcasing Howard Danchik's dreamy keyboard flourishes, 'Something You Can Hide In' found the band diving headlong into psychedelia.  Complete with some blazing Wally Cook fuzz guitar, the song's dark, almost paranoid feel has always reminded me a bit of The Beatles 'Tomorrow Never Knows'  complete with one of those trippy riffs that you simply couldn't shake out of your head.   The song also sported one of Jack Bryant's best vocals.     rating: **** stars
4.) Tell Me a Story   (Howard Danchik) - 0:22

Keyboard powered song fragment that was simply too brief to make much of an impression.   rating: ** stars
5.) Silent Garden   (Howard Danchik) - 1:54

Stunning folk-rock which underscored the band's nice harmony vocals ...  not too hard to imagine this one being played at my old Catholic Church's Saturday folk masses.    Beautiful melody.  rating: **** stars
6.) Look to the Sun   (John Bryant - Jack Lauritsen) - 3:46

Just Bryant singing and playing acoustic guitar, 'Looking to the Sun' was side one's most atypical tune.  I'm usually not a big fan of acoustic singer/songwriter material, but this was one of the exceptions.   Energetic performance with interesting lyrics.    rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) One of the Few Ones Left   (John Bryant) - 2:50

Acoustic folk with "deep" lyrics, heavy orchestration (there was even a flute solo), and a mild psych edge, 'One of the Few Ones Left' was another Bryant composition, though I'll admit this one didn't do a lot for me.  Interestingly, Roulette commissioned a promo clip for this one which you can see courtesy of YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZtOeo4QAoA   rating: *** stars 
2.) I Really Love My Mother   (Howard Danchik) - 1:07

Old timey throw-away tune with some seemingly anti-war lyrics.    rating: ** stars
3.) Look at the Wind   (John Bryant - Jack Lauritsen) - 4:04

Co-written by Bryant and Lauritsen, 'Look at the Wind' found the band adding a distinctive jazzy edge to their sound.   Surprisingly enjoyable, with Cook turning in one of his best performances.   rating: **** stars
4.) Didn't I   (John Bryant) - 2:55

For anyone who didn't think an acoustic song could qualify as a psych effort, I'd suggest checking this tune out.  Yeah, lead singer Bryant didn't sound all that comfortable in the higher ranges, but 'Didn't I' generated a ton of energy with an acoustic arrangement.   rating: **** stars
5.) It's a Long Way Down   (John Bryant) - 2:45

One of the tunes that initially didn't do much for me, but has grown on me over the years.   Nice harmony vocals with Cook showcasing his melodic moves and drummer Richard Kumer actually getting a little bit of spotlight time.   rating: *** stars
6.) I'll Drive You from My Mind   (John Bryant) - 4:19

It started out sounding like a stoned Donovan tune, but when the rest of the band showed up it moved towards more conventional Fallen Angels territory.   Full of treated vocals and production effects, it was easily the album's most out-and-out psychedelic effort.   rating: **** stars

 

 

The band's recording catalog includes one posthumous non-LP 45.  Actually recorded back in 1969, but  for some reason shelved, five years after the band called it quits, former manager Tom Traynor released a posthumous 45 on his own Sun Dream label:

 

  

 

- 1974's 'Everything Would Be Fine' b/w 'Hid and Found' (Sun Dream catalog number #704).

 

 

 

Not the most original reissue program, but in 1994 the Collectables label repackaged the two collections in CD format as "The Fallen Angels: The Roulette Masters, Part 1" (catalog number COL-5445)  and "The Fallen Angels: The Roulette Masters, Part 2" (catalog number COL-5446.)

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Rain of Fire

Company: Wildchild!

Catalog: #05852

Year: 1998

Country/State: Annapolis, Maryland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: --

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

"Rain of Fire" track listing:

1.) Mamma Allah   (Jack Bryant) -

2.) All In All   (Jack Bryant) -

3.) I Close My Eyes   (Jack Bryant) -

4.) Everything Would Be Fine   (Jack Bryant) -

5.) Babe   (Jack Bryant) -

6.) Char On the Road   (Jack Bryant) -

7.) You Are the One   (Jack Bryant) -

8.) Just Like That   (Jack Bryant) -

9.) Dreams On Dreams   (Jack Bryant) -

10.) Today Is   (Jack Bryant) -

11.) Just Think   (Jack Bryant) -

12.) I'll Take Care of You

13.) Every Time I Fall In Love   (Jack Bryant) -

 

 

reviewed by Frank Doris

And now for something completely different, as the purveyors of that famous mythical anthology, Every Record Ever Recorded, used to say. From Wildchild, a division of audiophile label Mapleshade Productions, comes Rain of Fire, an album of neo-psychedelic music from Fallen Angels, a band that burned brightly and burned out just as quickly in the Sixties, to be reborn thirty years later in a manner no one could have predicted.

The story goes: the Fallen Angels were one of the many bands that achieved regional notoriety—in their case, the Washington, DC area—without attaining national success. After releasing two albums on Roulette Records that were not properly promoted by the label (and are treasured by collectors of psychedelia) the group disbanded for "all the usual reasons," as the liner notes so succinctly put it. Thirty years later, Rick Hallock, Mapleshade's Director of Marketing, tracked down Jack Bryant, the band's leader, and convinced the band to reform (with all the original members except for a new drummer). Eight months of songwriting and rehearsals ensued in preparation for a new album, in "a cavernous basement where you had to thread your way through a jungle...of blown speakers, disemboweled amps, rusting motorcycle engines, primer-grey custom car hoods and mildewing psychedelic posters." In that "junk-lined time capsule," the reborn Angels revived.

The album sounds like it came from a time capsule—and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. That's because the music re-captures that elusive feeling of Sixties music—the feeling of complete anything-goes musical freedom and experimentation, without formulaic restrictions, and the feeling that we were all embarking upon a journey into a blissful new era of peace, love and happiness. Not a heavy, trippy, fuzz-guitar drenched album in the vein of, say, Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida or an extended improv-freak out in the manner of some early Grateful Dead albums, Rain of Fire is rather more evocative of bands like the legendary band Love, with its emphasis on plaintive vocals, soaring vocal harmonies and lilting pop songcraft. It's an open, inviting sound, one which takes me back to a time when anything seemed possible.

Well, the Fallen Angels got their chops back together for this album, all right—they had to, 'cause it was recorded live-to-two-track without any overdubs! In keeping with Pierre Sprey's philosophy of ultra-purist recording, Rain of Fire was recorded at Mapleshade's studio onto two-track analog tape, digitized on a custom A/D converter at "2,823K samples per second," using minimum miking, minimum audiophile-quality cabling, with no mixing board, filtering, compression, equalization or noise reduction. Just a band playing their hearts out, the moments captured forever. A little loose, a little funky, a little rough-all the more charming and human-sounding, a real band playing real music—you know, the way it used to be?

And it sounds it—the recording is you-are-there alive and present, a band playing and grooving in your room. Exceptional sonic purity, "air" and resolution of the finest musical nuances, from the "ping" of the cymbals to the transient clarity and "pluck" of the acoustic guitars. Thrilling dynamic range and instrumental "kick." Vocals that are among the most realistically-recorded on disc—Jack Bryant's sweet, emotive singing on "I Close My Eyes" and hiccuping tremolo effects on "Everything Would Be Fine" send the proverbial chills up my spine every time, as he sounds like he is right there in front of me. Electric guitars that sound remarkably "real," from the unmistakable "moaning" sound of the Fender Stratocaster to the wah-wah'd distortion of a humbucker-equipped guitar (a Gibson semi-hollow?) overdriving an amp cranked to near destruction. (I would have mixed the guitars a little louder, but it wasn't my bread that paid for this record!)

Kudos to the band and to Mapleshade for having the cojones to pull this off. Not everyone's cup of psychedelically-spiked punch, to be sure—but I have to say I really dig this.

 

 

Started in 1965 with Charlie "CJ" Jones - Vocals, Guitar and Harp, Jack Bryant - Bass and Vocals, Wally Cook - Guitar and Vocals and Ned Davis - Drums and Vocals. After a couple name changes in the first year they settled on The Fallen Angels. They played the Frog and the Keg in Georgetown. In 1966, they released Everytime I fall In Love on the Laurie Label followed by A little Love Will Do. After switching to the Roulette Label in 1967, they released two albums - The Fallen Angels followed by It's A Long Way Down. There were also 2 promo singles - Room At The Top and Hello Girl. After Roulette, in 1969 they released a single on Sundream entitled Everything Would Be Fine. On Mapleshade's Wild Child Label in 1998 they released a CD entitled Rain of Fire. In 2009 Sundazed record label released an unreleased 45 of Who Do You Love and the original version of Hello Girl.
________________________________

Personnel changes over the years were:
Rocky Isaac - Drums
Jack Lauritsen - Guitar
Howard Danchick - Keyboard and Vocals
Spider - Drums
Ned Davis - Keyboard, Drums and Vocals
Thumper - Drums
Tomas Mansel - Drums
Kevin Armstrong -Bass
Kathleen "Sully" Sullivan - Pedal Steel
_________________________
The 2010-2011 members include:
_________________________
Jack Bryant - Bass and Vocals
Wally Cook - Guitar and Vocals
Thumper - Drums
Charlie "CJ" Jones - Harp and Vocals
Billy Hancock - Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Brint Hannay - Guitar, Pedal Steel, Vocals

 

 

In the mid-to-late 1960′s, the Washington, D.C. area was a breeding ground for rock music talent. John Phillips, Cass Elliot, Jim Morrison, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Roy Buchanan, John Hall, Nils Lofgren, Emmylou Harris, Walter Egan, Bill & Taffy Danopff, Punky Meadows, and Danny Gatton are but a few of the locals from that era who moved on from D.C. to leave their mark on American music.

There were other local musicians, however, who were equally (or even more) talented, but through poor management or just plain bad luck missed out on commercial success at the national level. The most Poignant example of this phenomenon is the legendary band known as The Fallen Angels. Formed in 1965, The Fallen Angels were a dynamo of musical creativity and stage theatrics. They had an amazing ability to synthesize diverse musical styles (i.e., Beatles, Dylan, jazz, classical, etc.) into a cohesive sound that was distinctly their own. And as anyone who ever saw them perform live can attest, their grip on an audience was nothing short of charismatic. Excellent musicians all, the band members were ravenous mimics with a penchant for political satire.

It wasn’t unusual for the band to begin a live set in total darkness except for a blinding white strobe light while abruptly segueing from a off-key rendition of obscure fifties rock & roll to twangy country & western a la Buck Owens on acid. The effect was disorienting yet somehow exhilarating. Probably the most comparable live performances were by the original Mothers of Invention, who were contemporaries of The Fallen Angels.

During their meteoric career, The Fallen Angels went through a few personnel changes. However, the most well-known incarnation of the band featured the following lineup. Jack Bryant was the lead singer, bass player and a prolific songwriter. Jack provided the creative focal point of the group and with his full beard and shoulder length hair, he was the spitting image of a counterculture “Christ” Figure. Jack had an amazing vocal range, equally adept at belting out powerhouse rock/blues or subtly phrasing folk/jazz lyrics. He also was a heck of a bass player. The bulk of the songwriting came from Jack and was often autobiographical and eloquently expressed his intense personal philosophy.

 

 

Obviously destined for stardom, The Fallen Angels were signed by Laurie Records., After achieving regional success with their top ten radio hit “Every Time I Fall In Love”, the band was contracted by Roulette Records to release two albums. Unfortunately, Roulette was looking for hit-making successors to Tommy James And The Shondells and consequently never had a clue as to how to properly promote the iconoclastic Fallen Angels.

The first album (entitled simply “The Fallen Angels”) received a very favorable response but had no top ten hits due in large part to a sub-par production effort by the recording studio and an ill-conceived promotional strategy aimed at the conventional tastes of AM listeners.

Needless to say, their music was too “far out” for the “straight” audience and received very limited exposure to the burgeoning “underground” music scene associated with west coast bands such as the Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. Despite playing to wildly enthusiastic crowds at venues all along the east coast, The Fallen Angels had not been able to establish their identity nationwide

Even with all the problems concurrent with it’s release, the first album contains some real gems that reflect the attitudes of both hope and cynicism which prevailed during the psychedelic era. Listen carefully to songs like “Introspective Looking Glass”, “Your Mother’s Homesick, Too” and the album’s tour de force, “No Way Out”.

Conflicts with Roulette records came to a head when the band was slated to promote their single “Hello girl” on Upbeat, a Cleveland-based TV show clone of the American Bandstand. Upon arriving at the TV studio, the band heard a version of their song that, unbeknownst to them, had been completely rearranged by Roulette to the point where it bore little resemblance to their original composition.

Disgusted and disheartened, the band rebelled at the idea of lip-synching to this bastardized version of their song. Finally, they agreed to go on TV, but as soon as the camera began to roll, Jack Lauritsen pulled a toy doll out of his jacket and proceeded to rip off it’s limbs and throw them directly at the camera. It was a classic Fallen Angels performance, albeit one which was highly edited prior to the broadcast.

Realizing the futility of trying to control this band, Roulette Records allowed The Fallen Angels almost total artistic freedom in the production of their second album, entitled “It’s A Long Way Down”. The group’s efforts resulted in what many aficionados of the psychedelic genre consider a masterpiece. Without any outside meddling, The Fallen Angels were able to craft a recording which more accurately portrayed the group’s eclectric musical approach. Song selections which especially stand out include: “Horn Playing On My Thin Wall”, “Look To The Sun”, One Of The Few Ones Left”, a soaring, jazzy “Look At The wind” and the haunting finale “I’ll Drive You From My Mind”.

Although the album was an artistic triumph, Roulette’s promotional campaign was practically non-existent. With no top ten hits, The Fallen Angels were unceremoniously dropped from the label.

Relegated to the status of local legends, The Fallen Angels continued creating and performing original music in the D.C. area until the fall of 1969 when the group disbanded.

Still years after their demise, The Fallen Angels may be gone, but not forgotten. In the February ’72 issue of Stereo Review, music critic Joel Vance wrote an insightful article entitled “The Fragmentation Of Rock”, which analyzed the problem of developing new talent in the industry. To illustrate the overwhelming odds against succeeding, he states:

“The Fallen Angels, for example, a remarkable band from Washington, D.C., put out two astonishing albums for Roulette Records in 1967/68. But they never made it, even though they were far better than most American groups of the time.”

Records by The Fallen Angels have become true collectors’ items, with original vinyl LPs going for upwards of $200 each, if you are lucky enough to find one! The second album has even been bootlegged in Europe, where there has been a resurgent interest in authentic psychedelic music.

The unique music of The Fallen Angels would have remained shrouded in myth had it not been for the efforts of Collectables Records, who made special licensing arrangements with Rhino Records to digitally reproduce the original master recordings (which fortuitously had been stored in the vaults at Abbey Road Studios ).

~ Doug McCullough ©1994

Doug McCullough is a producer of high-tech laser shows for major planetarium theaters from New York to California. He got his start in the business by creating psychedelic light shows in concert with the Fallen Angels.

In 1994 Collectables Records released two CD’s entitled “The Fallen Angels – The Roulette Masters Part 1 (COL-CD-5445) and Part 2 (COL-CD-5446) . These CD’s correspond to the two Roulette LP’s entitled “The Fallen Angels” and “It’s A Long Way Down”. They can be purchased at Amazon.com, or ordered from Collectables Records, Inc. P.O. Box 35, Narbeth, PA 19072, Tel: (215) 649-7565, Fax: (215) 649-0315.

The story of The Fallen Angels could’ve ended back then, but in 1997, Jack Bryant reformed The Fallen Angels with original guitarists Wally Cook and Jack Lauritsen plus new members Tomas Mansell (drums, percussion), Kevin Armstrong (bass), Sunny Davis (vocals, keyboard, percussion), and Ben Meyer (percussion, vocals, keyboard). When this incarnation of The Fallen Angels first began working on their sounds at Mapleshade Studios, the results were captured on tape and released on a CD entitled “Rain of Fire” in October of 1998. Subsequently, the band has expanded its repertoire and is performing live at Washington area venues such as the Birchmere and Jaxx.
In 2009, Sundazed Records released a vinyl 45 of Who Do You Love and Hello Girl. These were originally recorded in 1966. Check it out! ~ http://www.thefallenangels.com/main.htm

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The first time I saw a full psychedelic light show was in the summer of 1967 at The Ambassador Theatre in Washington, DC. It was fantastic! A group of light show artists from San Francisco had been hired to set up an elaborate light show at this huge old-style movie theatre. All the seats had been removed and a stage had been created where the movie screen used to be. White cloth had been draped around the stage and extended out around the sidewalls. The ceiling was super high so the available screen area for projections was enormous. There was a large balcony where all of the light show equipment was set up to front project on this huge wrap-around screen. All kinds of projected images were playing simultaneously – superimposed on top of each other. I remember thinking how cool this was... and that I immediately understood exactly how it was being done. From the time I was in elementary school, I had always been the kid who would be given the task of running film or slide projectors so I had an innate grasp of the technical aspects. "I started doing impromptu light shows for my friends. We'd be at a party at someone's house, and just turn off the lights and start creating psychedelic lighting effects on the ceiling along with music that we liked (like Spirit, Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, etc). At this time I would use a single slide projector with abstract coloured 35mm slides to reflect off of a small pad of mirrors that I could hold in my hands and control the motion with the music (imagine taking the small square mirrors off of a mirrored ball and gluing them onto a foam rubber pad). I began to develop techniques which allowed me to visually interpret the music with a surprisingly high degree of control. It was like playing along with the music in light and colour. But it was just something I would do for fun, to entertain friends. However, some of the basic techniques that I developed were a precursor to the more sophisticated visuals that I was later able to achieve with laser scanning."In high school I attended St. Stephens college preparatory school. I grew tired of the types of bands that were being hired for our school dances, and to remedy the situation I joined the student organisation that selected bands – it was actually called The Hop Committee! So in '68 I was able to persuade other members of the committee to hire a particularly good band called December's Children (who were somewhat modelled after The Fallen Angels and even covered some of their songs in their sets). After deciding on the band, the next question was how to decorate for this dance. I brought up the idea of having a psychedelic light show, but all of our funds were going to the band. I offered to create a light show for free as long as I could use various projectors at the school. I remember everyone being astonished at my offer with expressions like 'Do you really think you can do this?' My confident nature won out, and we started planning. From the science department I got two overhead projectors – one for liquids and one for large op-art transparencies that could be moved by hand with the music. I also got four 35mm slide projectors and one 16mm movie projector. Since we were steeped in the prevailing anti-Establishment politics that prevailed during those turbulent times, I chose a tongue-in-cheek name for our light show, namely The Babylonian Pigpen. This weird name was inspired by a book by a radical black leader Eldridge Cleaver, titled Soul On Ice, where he described Washington DC as 'the pigpen of Babylon'. Thus The Babylonian Pigpen Light Show was born!The actual show with December's Children was a big success. People were amazed with what we had done. The band members came back and asked us to perform with them at upcoming gigs. One of the students at the show put me in touch with his older brother who promoted dances at a local church that featured bands like The Fallen Angels. So the work started flowing. We started doing shows, first with projectors that we would rent from local audio-visual companies and then with our own equipment which we would purchase with the meagre proceeds (I think we were getting $50-60 a night). In '68 we were asked to do a church dance with The Fallen Angels. At first I flatly refused, saying that our light show just wasn't up to the level of their music. I always tried to have the visuals in our shows go with the music so that we complimented what the band was doing. But I had so much respect for The Fallen Angels that I didn't want to do anything that was less than what their music demanded. Nevertheless, the other members of the light show (who were all my best friends at school) were finally able to talk me into doing the gig. "Although the show didn't meet my own artistic standards, it was extremely successful with the audience. And most importantly, Jack Lauritsen came back after the show and told me how much the band was impressed with the way that our projections actually followed their music. Jack handed me his business card and told me about a gig that they were playing for an anti-war rally in downtown DC and to give the event organiser a call about doing a light show with The Fallen Angels. WOW! As you might imagine, I was elated!"We changed our name to The Babylonian PigPen Light Obbligato to distinguish our shows from the run-of-the-mill psychedelic light shows that were cropping up all over. And we began performing a lot of shows with The Fallen Angels at local concerts and dances. We used to work up special imagery just for their shows, like creating custom slides to introduce each band member. And of course, we had a special 'feel' for their music so that we could precisely follow abrupt changes in their songs (like 'Look At The Wind' or 'Signed DC'). This was a great time, and it lasted up until the Fall of '69 when all of us in The Babylonian Pigpen headed off in different directions to start college. Coincidently, The Fallen Angels were to break up soon thereafter. I came back to town for their show at a Georgetown rock club called The Emergency. It was a great performance, but sad because the band had no future bookings beyond it. Little did I know that would be their last gig.

"In Winter of '70 I managed to persuade the student committee at my college to book a concert featuring my light show and a top-notch band from Washington, DC who I had worked with many times. This band was Claude Jones, a spin-off from The Reekers – the original Hangmen (of 'What A Girl Can't Do' fame). I had really wanted to book The Fallen Angels, but since they weren't available, I picked the next best band."In '72 I performed a live light show at The Smithsonian Institute as part of an 'Expanded Cinema' programme. The show was quite advanced in its use of quadraphonic sound – mixing between recordings and a live performance by Jack Bryant. At first he was reluctant to perform on his own, but eventually he grew more comfortable with the idea. I put together a very eclectic soundtrack with the natural sounds of birds, Gabor Szabo, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana, Spirit, yogic meditation breathing, and four original songs by Jack which he performed live at the event. The show was extremely well received by a very sophisticated audience who were there solely to experience the art. The tickets were $15 or $25 which was a very high admission in those days; we got a $100 honorarium."This whole light show was conceived to visually interpret the music, giving me the opportunity to craft imagery specifically for each of Jack's songs. 'When A Child Is Born' featured an innocent baby surrounded by a multi-image collage of urban life. 'Life Is A Round' featured intricate mandalas. 'And When Your Time Has Come' featured a multi-image treatment of classical artwork (such as Gustave Dore's drawings for 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton), and finally, 'Heavenly Seas' featured cloud-like imagery intermixed with amorphous lumia effects. "One of those in attendance was the producer of The Washington Theatre Group who operated a fairly renowned theatre in DC. He liked our performance so much that he booked us for a month-long run during the Summer of '73. However, since we were performing almost every night, Jack's songs were played from tape for those shows.

"Being exposed to The Fallen Angels was a great inspiration for me. I think that The Beatles really revolutionised pop culture by somehow setting the example for personal creative expression. It was no longer just the domain of a select group of artists and performers but something that was available to everyone."The Fallen Angels were an example of just how creative contemporaries of mine could be. They were from the same neighbourhood, so to speak. Seeing them create and perform really empowered me to follow my own creative vision of expressing music with light."

 


Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Great Society Sucks

Company: Cicadelic

Catalog: 1068

Year: 2011

Country/State: Annapolis, Maryland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: --

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

 

 

"Great Society Sucks" track listing:

1. Everything Would Be Fine - 4:20

Since Washington DC was the home for The Fallen Angels, the band did not miss out on radicalizing the 1968 Presidential elections-letting their disparaging views on the LBJ and his "Great Society" be aired. Amidst all the politics is a great live perfor Personnel: Jack Bryant (vocals); Wally Cook (guitar); Howard Danchik (keyboards); John Malloy (drums). Record Collector (magazine) (p.93) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[They] play their own rousing tunes in a style that's part Cream and part beyond comparison. Superb!


Track Listing


"Great Society Sucks" track listing:

1.) Everything Would Be Fine - 4:20

2.) Great Society Sucks

3.) Fat Angel (FLy Fallen Angel) 

4.) Pegasus the Pig for President

5.) NO Way Out 

6.) Ballad of a Thin Man   (Bob Dylan) - 

7.) Season of the Witch   (Donovan Leitch) - 

8.) Signed D.C.   (Arthur Lee)

9.) Poor Old Man 

10.) All Along the Watchtower  (Jimi Hendrix) - 

 

 

 

 

 

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