The title of this album might lead one to believe that Eddie Angel, guitar hero of masked rock & roll instrumentalists los Straitjackets, was trying his hand at a crop of Beatles covers, but that's not the case. Eddie Angel Meets the Beatles is a covers album, but it's actually songs from the Beatles' set list in their early club days -- that is, tunes that were actually covered by the young group itself. For fans of Angel, this also marks a significant event in that the renowned instrumentalist actually takes lead vocals throughout the album, conjuring up the raw, rathskeller-throated style of Hamburg-era John Lennon. (With the exception of a vocal turn on the 2002 album Dressed in Black: A Tribute to Johnny Cash, Angel usually lets his guitar do the singing.) This is an album that shimmies, shakes, rocks, rolls, even swoons (into loungy '50s-style balladry). Most significantly, Angel is a ringer on guitar. Back in the day, George Harrison was able to pull off Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry riffs, but Angel, now in his fifties, has evolved to the point where he's practically transcended guitar influences like Link Wray, Chuck Berry, and the Ventures' Nokie Edwards. He's also more than ably backed by Rochester, NY, rock & roll revivalists the Hi-Risers (who offered up a stunning mix of garage, surf, Bobby Fuller Four-isms and Bakersfield twang on their 2003 album Lost Weekend). With relatively lo-fi, analogue-sounding production and dead-perfect feel and musicianship, this album captures the raw, youthful excitement of the early Fab Four. You might even forget you're not listening to the Liverpudlians themselves -- that is, until something like the cover of Chuck Berry's "Almost Grown" rears up, and Angel fires off some trademark guitar bursts in his fiery, nimble style and rich, bubbly tone. Despite his surf, rockabilly, and instro roots, Angel has always owed a debt of influence to the popsmithery of the Beatles, particularly on some of the more lovely instrumentals he's written for los Straitjackets -- consider that debt paid off with Eddie Angel Meets the Beatles.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Erik Hage