Angels Or Kings

Angels-Or-Kings-5

Country United Kingdom

Style Melodic Hard Rock

Profile If ever there was an eighties super group from a humble background, then Angels Or Kings (A.O.K.) fit that bill perfectly. They were made up of ex members of Sam Thunder, Circus and Strutz to name a few, and tore it up on Oxford Road – Manchester’s answer to Sunset Strip playing the Banshee and Rockworld. Whilst their history is well documented in Tony Bell’s excellent book Life In The Bus Lane, it simply doesn’t capture the vitality or energy that oozed from their every pore. Unfairly dubbed the poor man’s FM , they were far more than just a bunch of mere clones or plagiarists. In Noel Fraser they had a vocalist that could keep up with the best, and ultimately it was the songs that were the stars of the A.O.K. show. In the late eighties and early nineties the band stood shoulder to shoulder with a plethora of promising unsigned acts, some ultimately doomed to a life of obscurity.

It was hard to pinpoint the exact failings of many, but it was ultimately the change in the musical climate that put paid to A.O.K.’s dreams of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in particular; or, as Tony Bell put it so eloquently in Classic Rock AOR; Grunge gate-crashed my party. It hid my hairspray, trashed my records, supped my beer, nicked my girl and then dressed her like a bloke! A chance meeting between me and the boys at a Firefest after show though ultimately lead to the discussion of the band reforming; We’ve got something on the go, slurred Tony Bell, but we’re lazy and need a kick up the behind. That kick came in the shape of Barrie ( Baz ) Jackson, an unknown vocalist at the time, but one who carried a style that was tailor-made for AOR. Hailing from the Dales of Yorkshire (more like New York-shire, judging by the sound of that voice) Jackson, alongside original members Bell, Steve Kenny and Rob Naylor, was the final piece of the jigsaw and a slew of promising demos quickly followed, with Classic Rock AOR declaring that, Jackson has given the band an edge that sets them even further apart from the competition .

Setting up camp in Shabby Road studios, the journey towards their debut album began in earnest. With the basics intact, and with original drummer Andy Chemmey along for the ride, they moved to Mad Hat Studios (home to Magnum), where under the guidance of Sheena Sear and Mark Stuart, they put the finishing touches to album Kings Of Nowhere . A true statement of intent, Kings Of Nowhere truly shows that the boys have built on their initial promise by delivering a quintessential UK AOR album. Like their early days, it’s all about the songs and this album has them in spades. From the stirring anthemic strains of future classic Any Other Girl, through to the swirling keyboards of Lost Boy , and stopping off at the epic Real Life and the Van Halen-esque If Her Tears Could Talk, this rollercoaster of AOR covers all the bases.

A.O.K. are truly the people’s band winning a fan voted appearance at this year’s final Firefest proves that but now they deserve your utmost attention. In a world of AOR that heaps praise on the bland and the boring, it makes a refreshing change to see a home-grown outfit totally deliver on the hyperbole by actually being good. It’s a little over twenty years since they called it a day the first time, but now these kings of nowhere are here to stay and it’s time for the Kings to rise to the top. They’ve loved and lost along the way but thats really only just put some grit under the fingernails, enabling them now to provide an album that is both honest and real. This is British song writing at its absolute best.

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– Kings of Nowhere [2015]

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