Arc Angel

Arc Angel

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In the early '80s, with guitars and keyboards fighting for song supremacy, a crashing Canadian rock wave flooded America with bands running down the radio market. Stylistically lodged between the prog-metal of Rush and the power pop of Nick Gilder (but with the same helium tenors), Loverboy, Aldo Nova, and Prism coveted a piece of Foreigner's and Journey's action. Multitudes of fine records were casualties of these AOR wars, including Arc Angel's debut. Shining opener "Stars" ponders life and dreams with a hot "Bolero" chaser. "Tragedy" is a great she's-too-young number (did this trend start with Gary Puckett's "Young Girl"?). This one-two punch sets a tough standard, but the album's energy stays strong. Luckily, cosmic tones and crisp production triumph over classic '80s killers electronic drums and chirping keys. Stickman Jeff Cannata plays most instruments while singing, producing, and writing the music (not the lyrics), making him the star of this lost show and a member of the elite '80s singing drummer club: Phil Collins, Kelly Keagy, Jimmy Marinos, Don Henley. April Wine later covered "Wanted: Dead or Alive," a dust-kicker that treads familiar ground (in addition to Bon Jovi and Journey thumpers, how many DOA songs prowled the '80s?). The majestic instrumental "Before the Storm" starts side two with a touch of grace continuing in "Sidelines," which shows the inherent yearning in Cannata's vocals. Arc Angel sounds similar to Orphan's debut, Lonely at Night (Orphan Brent Diamond helps on the mediocre "Confession."); but where that record takes the curves, Arc Angel flies straight. Cannata pulls the reigns on progressive tendencies, keeping the tunes tight. The refreshing "Just Another Romance" dumps the keys, quotes Badfinger, and comes out completely memorable. Realistically, only a faceless power ballad would have broken these guys, so it's just as well Arc Angel disappeared, leaving behind this charming artifact of craftsmanship and poise.

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