Angel Air 2016
MOR and more from a loose-but-tight English ensemble collecting their elusive heirlooms.
Perhaps, with abundance of soundtracks it wasn’t such a good idea to give a musical conglomerate this name, but since David Martin – he of BUTTERSCOTCH fame – needed a new vehicle for new songs in a new decade, the name was as good as any for the ’70s. A screen of sorts for Tony Burrows, Sunny Leslie and Sue Glover, backing singers of choice for many a famous artist and minor hitmakers in their own right, the collective released a few singles that are gathered here alongside the singers’ individual performances which didn’t see much chart action and, thus, got away.
In hindsight, it’s easy to look at these period pieces as reaction to political bleakness of their time, and the Martin-sung “It’s Gonna Be A Cold Cold Winter” is indeed an epitome of optimism, a soundtrack to gloomy days that are bound to disappear, WEST END BOYS’ doo-wop-tinged “Summertime” providing a convincing proof of that, yet the songs’ innocent charm doesn’t have any hidden agenda. Thus, THE ORIGINAL CAST’s “Look At Us (The Two Of Us)” is drenched in strings but has a heartbeat for a groove under its multi-voiced chorus, and there’s a nice punch to “Knock Me Down” where female and male vocals mix impressively.
Just as sincere, Sue’s delicate “Solo” and soulful “All So Different Now” from Sunny are prime examples of understated balladry, while “Ain’t That Tellin’ You People” finds the sisters in boisterous mood. Burrows managed to combine the two aspects in “Better Fly Butterfly” and rock it with a certain defiance, and THE NAIMZ’ “Golden Yearz” from 2016 may serve as a bottom line to this dewy-eyed compilation. Sometimes it’s so sweetly ’70s that there’s a risk of toothache; sometimes it’s conventionally adventurous; altogether, it’s a good reminder of the musical-minded landscape that’s long gone.