Angel Air 2013
Erstwhile Flyers get a new crew and go from Southend-on-Sea to the American South to have some sun-kissed fun.
The signs were there early on, 1976’s hit “Little Does She Know” being one of the KURSAAL songs to feature steel guitar, but nothing quite prepares the listener for their alumni’s new band’s venture into the gilded palace of sin. Channeling FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS and adding a peculiar English twist to the mellifluous grooves, singer Paul Shuttleworth and six-stringer Vic Collins rope in three other gray-haired Brits to ride their old principle, “Old men need some lovin’ too,” and confess to a lot of dirty deeds over a devil’s dozen of catchy cuts. Not that they repent – surely not with the references to John Wayne and Smith & Wesson – so the backbeat-driven “Wrong Side Of Memphis” sounds more like “Walking The Dog” than walking away from troubles, even though the guilt is divided equally between the genuine regret of the title track, a heartbreaking ballad with otherworldly backing harmonies, and the cover of Mickey Jupp’s “Modern Music.”
The quintet’s collective gun is clearly pointed at timeless target, what with country staple “Truck Driving Man” that they beef up to rev up the final drive, and it might well be celluloid heroism in the likes of the mandolin-swirling boogie “A Man’s Gotta Do.” Yet effervescent opener “The Hard Way” kicks the saloon doors with just the right swagger, and “Your Alibi” packs a parting punch rather than regret in the exquisite mariachi ringing of Steve Oliver’s acoustic guitar. High on humor, even the most smooth songs such as “The Man Who Couldn’t Pay” make one’s ears prick and listen closely. The GUYS’ delivery is more desert-dry than that of FLYERS, but in such company one wouldn’t get lost anywhere.