Punky Meadows - photo by Michael Sherer
It was great to finally hear and see former Angel guitarist Edwin “Punky” Meadows, as he’s been completely out of the music world for decades. He was quietly running a tanning salon in Virginia for many years. Hailing originally from Washington D.C., he was near home but far from what he’s known for, that being rocking out in a band on mostly Fender Stratocaster type guitars while looking very much like the rock star he had wanted to be.
With his first recording in 35 years and his first ever solo outing, called Fallen Angel, Meadows is back. This resurrection is very much owed in part to Meadows partnering musically with songwriter, guitarist and singer Danny Anniello. They recently wrote some songs together and things progressed from there, with Anniello helping to shape both the music and the business side.
In addition to Anniello being on stage there was Chandler Mogel on vocals, Bob Pantella on drums, Charlie Calvin on keyboards, Randy Gregg filling in on bass and two back singers named Jessie Wagner and Amy Anderson. Former Angel bassist Felix Robinson played bass on the record and performed on two of songs during the show. He normally plays the whole show on this tour but he wasn’t feeling well that night. The crowd was glad to have him at all, though.
The music was good, solid rock and roll and the band was tight and energetic. Mogel has a strong and clear voice which I liked. Anniello sings well too, and anchors the group. I felt they all would have moved around more with a larger stage. But this club setting of a couple hundred people was intimate and up close, which is great.
The essential draw was Meadows being a former member of Angel, naturally. Let me provide some context here: While Angel had some commercial success in the States during their original run between ‘75 and ‘81 and made six records, they actually had more draw in Japan as they gained momentum. They certainly found a cohesive concept of dressing in all white and thereby countering the black dress and darkness of groups such as Alice Cooper, KISS and others during the early and mid ‘70’s, when concept groups/artists were at their height. Had their record label, Casablanca, not folded in ‘81, they would have carried on longer. It was Gene Simmons of KISS, Casablanca’s first signing in ‘73, that recommended to company president Neil Bogart that he sign Angel, which to his credit he did. Simmons had seen them play a local D.C. show and liked them. However, when Casablanca shut down after being absorbed by PolyGram, who ousted its founder Bogart in ‘81, the music scene had changed a good deal and Angel wasn’t happening. They unfortunately weren’t picked up by another record company and split up. Interestingly though, the band have garnered a cult following to a degree, and there were plenty of Angel shirts clad to the mostly 40 something crowd at the show to demonstrate this.
Meadows, 66, looked very fit, lean and younger than his age. He’s also quite tall. His distinctive, long and carefully maintained looking mane of hair in the ‘70’s is now shorter but he has managed to keep it perfectly coiffed and gray free, as well as keeping his long fingers nimble for playing guitar at a high level. He’s rather introverted seeming, and stayed on his side of the stage the whole show. His focus was playing the mostly new songs from the record well and faithfully, which he did. There were Angel songs too, of course. Five to be exact, with their best known tune, “The Tower,” as the encore.
Here’s hoping that Meadows keeps this reboot running for a long time before opening another tanning salon, (or a laundromat, parking garage, diner, hair salon or something else disconnected to music), because you know what they say: There’s no business like show business.
The Price You Pay
Wild And Hot
Don’t Leave Me Lonely
Lost And Lonely
Can You Feel It
Encore: The Tower