Blue Angel

Blue Angel

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Prior to becoming the iconoclastic vocalist who would revolutionize the role of women in rock & roll during the 1980s, Cyndi Lauper fronted Blue Angel, a retro-rock quintet that was all too short-lived. Their sound recalls all that is good (OK, great) about the superbly crafted early-'60s pop music genre -- especially female-led units such as the Angels and the Ronettes. Producer Roy Halee perfectly re-creates Phil Spector's Wagner-ian "Wall of Sound" on the upbeat "I Had a Love" -- complete with timpani interjections and percussive castanet flourishes -- as well as "Just the Other Day," throwing in more than a hint of a reggae shuffle backbeat. Followers of Lauper's later work will note the overhaul of "Maybe He'll Know" on her similarly strong second solo outing from 1986, True Colors. The driving "Fade" bops along with keyboardist/saxophonist John Turi's electric organ providing an off-kilter groove that would have been right at home with the B-52's or the Cars. In fact, the compelling compositions and equally persuasive instrumentalists make it a wonder that Blue Angel didn't score better with new wave, pop, and rock fans alike. "Anna Blue" is a stellar ballad that is not too far removed from "Time After Time," and the tune is punctuated by a syncopated 6/8 rhythm, complementing the melancholy lyrics with just enough of a lilt to gently propel the song. Arthur Neilson's formidable guitar skills are unleashed with some respectable rockabilly chops, as heard on "Can't Blame Me" and the shredder "Late." No less essential are his contributions to the fun and convivial "Take a Chance," which could have been a contender for Elvis Presley circa "You're So Square (Baby, I Don't Care)." The sole cover on Blue Angel features Lauper at her best on the remake of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "I'm Gonna Be Strong." Originally a huge hit for Gene Pitney, it also turned up on Lauper's Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then Some compilation in 1995. Blue Angel made its North American CD debut in 2005 as the online audio archivists at Hip-O Select issued the band's only long-player in a limited-edition release of 5,000 copies. The miniaturized album jacket is reproduced, as is the inner sleeve with a four-panel foldout complete with all the words.

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