HYMN TO THE DUDES: Old Beat Angels Records Never Die!

By Kenney Silvers
(SugarBuzz Nowhere)

SugarBuzz Magazine

"Bad TV that insults me freely, still, I know what I'm dyin' to see...." (-Iggy Pop)

"In my life so far, I have discovered that there are really only two kinds of people: those who are for you, and those who are against you. Learn to recognize them, for they are often, and easily, mistaken for each other..." (-Lemmy)

"It is not the intensity, but the duration, of pain, that breaks the will to resist..." (-William S. Burroughs)

"Punk actually turned out to be as much of a failure, as it was a success. In the mid-1970's, the punk movement stormed the gates, screaming, 'Anyone can be a musician!'-this was a success. The fact that in the aftermath, every asshole in the world became a musician, was it's failure." (-Weasel Walter)

"There is no such thing as paranoia...." (-Hunter S. Thompson)

"It's hard to love, when all you see is dust...." (-Mark Eitzel)


One band that never got enough credit, was the little-known, and under-appreciated, glammish, pop-punk godfathers, Arizona's own, BEAT ANGELS! As many others have repeatedly stated, vocalist, Brian Smith's whole look and vibe presaged all those Hot-Topic emo kids you see at Target, with the perfect glam-shags, and stretch-jeans, by a decade. Don't blame 'em for My Chemical Romance, and Green Day, the Angels were makin' a Racket like Ric Nielsen gettin' loaded with Tom Waits, way back before summa those newbie emo celebs were outta jammies, and everybody else still wanted to be W.A.S.P., or Motley Crue.

It takes millions of bloody corporate dollars to prop-up those trite and formulaic big-media celebrities, and they still can't come close to the potency of what the Beat Angels achieved with just the help of a sad-eyed Motorcycle Cowboy from Cleveland, some pawn-shop guitars, a spiral notebook of wry observations, and a tattered old blue velvet suit jacket.

The Beat Angels released two exceptionally lyrical and catchy l.p.'s on a little boutique label, that dissolved when the label exec died, so their loyal cult-following have waited patiently, for years, hoping that at least, the two, or three primary guys will someday get back together, and hustle-up another label, or maybe form their own label, to release more honest rock'n'roll music, themselves.

Nowadays, genuine songwriters with real heart have been replaced by Fee-For-Service beatmakers. Commercial Hip-Pop relies predominantly on dumbed-down party-rap lyrics, layered on top of quirky beats, with other artist's choruses. Current, establishment- proponents of cock-rock mediocrity, like Kid Rock, and Buck Cherry, aptly demonstrate, on a regular basis, how simple it is to churn-out assembly-lined, soppy 80's power ballads, for the dumbed-down, and rigidly-formatted, nu-radio market. The corporate, Conquest-Of-Cool can be a real spirit-breaker, if you were ever a true belever, or real rock'n'roller, cos who wants to participate in this whole fix-is-in reality show audition?

The Beat Angels were a celebration of the uncelebrated. Dark horse, underground, charismatic, and talented pop-stars singing for the unsung....

Part of what made their songs resonate was the empathy, compassion, and anecdotal detail that Brian Smith lavished upon all of his underdog protagonists, a mangey bunch of calamitous characters-mostly rock'n'roll-obsessed young people, immoderate pop-culture casualties, terminal fuck-ups, and weary fatalists. People for whom the die had already been cast, before they were even born, as well as, for some stripes of human debris, who essentially, got themselves in ridiculously bad positions, while heavily intoxicated. At the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrongest state of mind. The Beat Angels saw beauty, comedy, and grace, where the untrained eye might only see unshaven, weathered, old men throwing darts, and endless hands of Hearts, emergency rooms, and Greyhound stations...Proto-"Suicide Girls"-femme fatales, with bad attitudes and Betty Page bangs, and imaginatively embellished sob-stories, seemingly always involving some former member of Guns 'N' Roses, or Faster Pussycat...Mike Ness wanna-be "street poets", straight outta rehab, proudly rhyming "Slayer" with "playa", on wet cocktail napkins...Off-track betting derelicts-anxious for the big time, compulsively scratching-off reams, and reams of instant lotto-cards...Guilt-ridden, immigrant Mothers with multiple-barriers, preventing them from, "moving forward in the work place"....Cracked-out, caucasion dopeboys, nervously clocking the door....Hunch-backed lady predators, shedding crocodile tears, to gullible rubes...Former high school athlete Door-men, who can only find satisfaction in life, from brusing the boozers, for petty, made-up infractions, usually right when they've just started "Walkin' Spanish"...Rooms and rooms all full of people whose dreams never came close to coming true...most of them, utterly incapable of accomplishing anything beyond today's redundant blackout.

Alot of their tunes tread the same well-worn, disillusioned, terrain as their familiar predecessors-Bob Stinson era Replacements, Badfinger, Candy, Material Issue, and their fallen friend, Doug Hopkins-the genius songwriter behind much of the Gin Blossom's success. You know: the desert R.V. shooting gallery with the empty, nic-stained terrarium, where some half-lidded meth-dealer in a Misfits t-shirt, with a Motorhead tattoo, mumbles incoherantly, about the missing reptile he named Slash...Those unforgivable Wonder Years, when you're Too Fast To Work...Too Young to be squandering all your gifted-child talent, and future earning potential, getting soused with junkie strippers in skid row hotels, where unloved men go to die...


Remember when bikini clad teenage girls actually used to lounge around on beach towels, in green lawns, sunning, and you and your unruly bandmates would pile into somebody's 12th-hand jalopy, loudly blasting Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy, and Slade; 'all wearing sunglasses, and go cruisin' 'round the leafy suburbs, hoping to somehow catch the attentions of those mysterious, nubile creatures? 'Those emotionally-charged, but somehow, more carefree days, when your personal fortunes fluctuated wildly from Friday to Friday, the anxiety, panic, and akward humiliations of never fitting in at school, and 'black eyes outside the roller-rink, but you still still possessed the attitude of a champion, huge rockstar aspirations, and all those summery, attendant-illusions of youth? That inspiring sense of "All For One And One For All", seemingly shared by a faithful "Our Gang", comprised of "far too young and clever" cats and kittens from every class and creed, before the power-brokers effectively fractured us all off into competing, territorial, petty, little, bickering factions, so they could label and dismiss us as minorities, and make us feel weak and isolated, when, in fact, the only real minorities are the Forbes Magazine power-holders, who steal happy destiny from the Majority!

The Manic Street Preachers were right when they warned us that despotic blood-crazies, with their private armies, black contracts, and market-manipulators can only thrive, so long as, "we, the people", are distracted, and divided. They need to keep us all alienated from our own kindred spirits, and fellow travellers, crammed into tiny boxes, staring at tiny boxes, so we don't actually fraternize. If we were to spontaneously resume actually socializing again, we might recall how we are already bonded by a deeply-rooted, common empathy, and get organized, remobilized, reenergized. What if we remembered who we were, reclaimed our power, purged the false kings from the thrones, and had a hootenanny around the bonfire? I know-it's only rock'n'roll, but I like it.

...When you're a kid in a band, there's always plenty of girls around, to buy your creepers and guitar strings, pizza, and malt liquor. You just flat-out refuse to get outta bed for degrading, Wal-Mart wages, and you really don't mind the indignities of having to beg, or scrounge, for essentials such as toilet paper, razors, condoms, or having to bum cigarettes. When you're a kid, it ain't the end of the world if you never get to see a dentist, and if there's no hot water to bathe with, it's still kindof endearing to hot girls. Even scuzzy, extreme poverty can feel romantic, while you still got time on your side.... It's funny, how you just wanna be a grizzled old bluesman, until you actually start to grey and grizzle! Then, you find yourself pining for black concert t-shirts, ten dollar hairspray, and being able to fit back in to size 28 stretch-jeans, again. "What the hell ever happened to us?"

Back then, all you really had to be responsible for was avoiding the townie-jocks, who wanted to kick your ass for having long hair; finding someone to buy you beer; and maybe, pitching-in, at the end of the month, for the dirty practice space, where half your band lived.

Before there was that "70's Show", before every mall had a Hot Topic, before any rock group, no matter how obscure, or arcane, could be easily downloaded on the internet, there were those two utterly amazing CD's by Arizona's Beat Angels, that conveyed all the essence, the purity, and wholesomeness of that simpler time in life, as well as much of the fall-out and the aftermath, when all that optimistic Beginner's Luck turned sour, and that topless dancer who looked so sweet, hungover, at Sunday Brunch, in her polka-dotted Mary-Anne dress, drinking hair-of-the-dog Mimosas, coldly betrayed your love, for some older junkie, with an air of menace, a black Mustang, and alledged show-biz connections.

One of the top lyricists in all of glam-rock, or power-pop, whatever you wanna call it, Brian Smith's sepia-toned, romantic word-play, and Michael Brooks' televisual, guitar-cinemagic dramatically captured that time when we still had most of our lovely mirages, intact: true friends you could count on, incorruptible heroes with stamina and integrity, debauched rock-utopia fantasies...that the U.S. government was a real democracy-attending to the will of the actual majority, and not just a conspiracy of calloused, investment theorists, of the Military-Industrial-Media-Triangle...When the curvaceous starlet of your dreams was right there, in your grasp...Michael Brooks' enduring, time-tested bubblegum-virtuosity perfectly accentuated Brian's retro-mantic, hard-luck narratives about scraggly anti-heroes, and once-beautiful losers, in the rain-beaten, long neglected parts of town. These two appreciated nuance, and subtlety-they were always understated, when others were buffoonish, and suave, while others were gauche. Listening to songs like "Sometimes I Love You", "You're A Wreck", "Hey Little Peep Show", "Glum Sugar Plum", and ESPECIALLY, "Hungover With Jenny", is kinda like goin' through those two giant scrapbooks of pictures you still treasured from your mis-spent youth, that got left behind, in that last midnight-move.

Brian Smith is a fine music journalist, but a much better Rockstar. Current Glass Hero, the third member of the Beat Angel's unholy trinity, Keith, was bred in Detroit, and carried with him that hardworking, auto-manufacturer sensibility of Motown's lunch-box proletariat... It seems like he really, really, really likes the Clash... I dunno much about Michael Brooks, really, except that summa his guitar playing is every bit as vivid, and eloquent as Honeyman-Scott, K Bombay, or Derwood. He is, as we say in my dwindling circles, "Ronsonesque". Together, with a small coterie of enablers, they created poignant, sun-kissed pop songs that richly deserve a sturdier legacy than the usual website, Myspace page, and bottle-stained old copy of "Sonic Iguana". I wonder if his day-job colleague, Bill Holdship, realizes that Brian Smith was almost Paul Westerberg's heir-apparent--for years, before any of those emo/alt-country/big-media tweps came 'round, in their fitted denim jackets and razor-cut hair-do's... What he may have lacked in Freddy Mercury/Robin Zander-style "chops", (muso-speak for pitch-perfect, broad vocal-range...), he more than compensated for with marvelous, Real Rockstar Elegance-a throwback to the classic frontmen of the seventies:Rod Stewart, David Johansen, John Waite, and Michael Des Barres-and with a novelist's lucid eye for detailed and poetic story-telling, seldom heard in this musical sub-genre we call rock'n'roll.

Two impeccable albums, and a long and sordid history of anarchic live shows, lost loved ones, unforeseen setbacks, personal tragedies, shambolic break-ups, emotional reunions, and one or two astoundingly lucky-breaks, won them unequivocal praise, and dedicated fans like Jonathan Daniel, Jeff Dahl, and Alice Cooper. Like their early supported Jonathan Daniel (Candy, Electric Angels, the Loveless), they just had a real gift for writing these evocatively bittersweet songs about people you felt like you knew-y'know? Redolent with the faint smell of old true-crime novels, watermelon flavored lip-gloss, and cheerleader-vomit in the backseat on someone elses' vintage pink automobile. A scruffy lot of hometown Bay City Rollers who got no business mopin' around in dank, grubby, rundown, big city bars, foolishly hoping to find can-can girls and major-label record-deals, but more often, only encountering pleather-clad, off-duty pole-dancers with face tattoos, shrieking obscenities into cell-phones at their teenaged babysitters; Diamond Jim rail-road retirees purchasing limitless cocktails for naieve under-agers; The usual pack of boring local radio celebrities and fat, short, bald people from completely forgettable bands, who only lurk around these dive bars on Beer Company, or Radio Sponsored Theme-Nights, because they think being seen helps them maintain their street-cred... All those types, jockeying for position beneath the beer-lights, to have their picture taken with a Hooters girl, or random member of an Out-Of-Town rockgroup, by their photographer room-mate, for the weekly music rag; or Slumming pairs of college babes who quickly finish their drink and rush for the Exit sign, having instantly become the recipients of unwanted attention from the whole bar full of surly, forsaken, destitutes, numb to one another's unnerving habits, gutter-talk, outlandish behavior, gruesome flaws and physical deformities, and ever-worsening, last-stage, alcoholic dementia. Entire towns trapped like rats in some loathsome Jerry Springer rerun...All of us perpetually deteriorating, heinous cliche's, involuntarily racing towards futility... Nursing a flat-draft, and wishing someone would show up with enough quarters to play the Goddamned CD jukebox....When all you have to look forward to is maybe hearing "I'm Not Down", or "Shine A Light", before you pass-out on the curb. Drunk and disorderly in the heartless darkness.

The Beat Angels gave alot of steadfast individualists in velvet jackets, false hope, that it was still amost remotely possible to be discovered(!!!) if only you were cool, and had talent...Who knows, maybe all that misguided flirtation with Only Ones-style decadence, grandiose Mick Jagger posturing, and yearning, post-adolescent sweetness will get noted, and photo-documented/properly recorded, and gradually, earn you a burgeoning legion of life-long, frenzied fans... It makes no sense at all, but the Impossible Teenage Dream actually sorta came true for this unlikely lot, when Gilby Clarke produced their highly influential landmark albums, "Unhappy Hour", and "Red Badge Of Discourage"! They even went on to write a song for ALICE COOPER! Don't try these stunts, yourself, kids--this shit almost never, never happens. The Hollywood Happy-Ending for wayward ne'er-do-wells who wanna shake the world with rock'n'roll, who actually almost DO sortof get away with it-scenario, is an exceptionally rare case-study.

Beat Angels had some astonishingly cool and catchy songs, and that timeless, West Side Story appeal, like the Sweet, or the Ramones. Some amazing "big-band" drummers (R.I.P. Jon Norwood), and a real surplus of talent, style, personality. They even KNEW the right people. They had it ALL. So obviously, I have NO IDEA, whatsoever, why they flared-out, having never "Made It Big". (Hell, I don't even know how they made it as far as they did, or I woulda followed their blue-print.) They were like the Plimsouls, Flamin' Groovies, Imperial Drag, or Hanoi Rocks. Maybe they were just MEANT to be a cult-band, because it definitely seems like the people who love them, REALLY, rapturously, love them. They were a Mott The Hoople for my age group. Candy meets the Clash. Rock'n'roll High Schoolers who held true to their teenage ideals. Boat-loads of lesser bands, mostly, over-hyped corporate wonders, came along during the Beat Angels lengthy-hiatus, and seemed to steal their thunder, or at least, temporarily, occupy their space...Jet, Peter Doherty, Wilco, Star Spangles, the Every Others, Diamond Dogs, Marah, Primal Scream, Red Star Rebels, Towers Of London, Hot Leg, all those black haired Swedish sleaze-revivalists from five years ago, Glas Vegas, Of Montreal, Tinted Windows, etc., etc., etc., but much of those buzz-band's momentum melts immediately, beneath the spot-lit scrutiny of repeated listenings. Two of the only bands that continued to fly the real flag for heart-felt power-pop, in the absence of Beat Angels, were Tsar, and the Dragons-two other bands who are capable of crafting super high-quality hooks, with thoughtful, fun, socially-conscious and/or, merciful lyrics.

I think "All The Old Dudes" of the Beat Angels just got temporarily diverted by the inevitable day-jobs of adulthood, while their producer, and benevolent patron, Gilby Clarke (Candy/Kill For Thrills/Substitute Izzy/Rockstar Supernova), got side-tracked by his own ill-conceived reality show talent contest, and the like, so the Beat Angels never finished their opus-that long-awaited third album. HEY GILBY! They got seven or eight more songs to perfect. Whatsa Matter Witchu? Runnin' 'round with Tommy Lee, lookin' for the Next Big Rockstar, when he's standin' right there!!!? I told 'm, years ago, to get Ian Hunter to produce the third record, but now, he's busy with the Mott Reunion. Guy Stevens and Mick Ronson are both gone. Tony James and Mick Jones would probably want lots of money (James, anyway...) upfront, to produce them, and would likely try to ruin them with trendy dance-beats, and heavy dub-echoes, anyway, which brings us right back to Waiting For Gilby, unless they can negotiate something with Tony Visconti. No one else is really qualified. Fortunately, for all concerned, it appears as if everyone in the Beat Angels Camp agrees it would be better to leave their sparkling legend untarnished, rather than release a half-assed third album, so we'll wait....Perhaps they'll re-package choice cuts from the first two albums, along with the unreleased tracks from the unfinished record, pen some illuminating liner-notes, print those alongside some cool old photographs, and hit the road, Jack. I wish they'd whip-up a batch of black t-shirts with a glittery logo, along with a fully realized third record, and sell 'em, on tour, with y'know, Joan Jett, or Cheap Trick, or somebody.

In-the-know coolsters have always included random Beat Angels songs on their annual summer-roadtrip travel mixes, but for me, all those songs really culminated in the absolutely majestic and shimmering unreleased track, "She Shoots Starlight", a song that's so gorgeous, and epic, it actually makes me think of like, Echo And The Bunnymen, or "Unguarded Moment" by the Church. It transcends punk-pop, it glistens. Three or four more of those and no radio could deny 'em. It is as fine of a song as most anything penned by Gen X, or Candy, and that's almost like, my highest praise, really. It just emanates light, and mercy, and real genuine rock'n'roll soul. The song, itself, is probably inspired by some seemingly-doomed woman from Brian Smith's own "checkered past", but clearly, Michael Brooks is the one who demonstrates a flare for actually, "shooting starlight" into song, with tasteful melodic inventions that really bring Brian's poetic, character-driven narratives to life.

If the Beat Angels were beer, let's face it-it'd be high-end, premium grade, pale ale...more filling than the routinely-available, canned varieties 'one finds for cheap, on every corner market shelf...a trace of melancholy at the bottom of each long-neck...mostly used to lift spirits, and for celebrations...limited edition, micro-brewed, with no bitter after-taste. A hard-to-find beer-snob brew, worth seeking out, and special ordering.

You'd think more people would be thirsty for heart-felt, high-quality rock'n'roll. The proudly oblivious, mostly sedentary, Twittering throngs don't seem to care if Homeland Security is spying on what library books they read, perusing their e-mails, or going through their underwear drawers, hoping to find the "Anarchist Cookbook", or maybe a dog-eared old "Whole Earth Catalog". Who cares if the government lies to them, poisons them, starts wars, topples other nation's infrastructures, or props-up crooked corporate multinationals, and hedge-fund criminals--so long as they're still "free" to watch more Youtube vids of cute, furry animals, on mediocre lesbian daytime TV, or zaney skateboard injuries, on "America's Whackiest Home Videoes". We are all so fucked: slavish exploitation, genocide, torture, tasers, corruption, propoganda, but most folks are still content to yakkety-yak all day long about Timbaland, or Will I. Am's newest Pro-Tools beats, and Preposterously Over-rated Jack White's weekly side-projects. How did nearly everyone I ever knew, collectively, steadily, fall, one by one, for all this dreadful fucking bullshit?


"Ownership Society" is no joke. These corporate C.E.O's and their lobbyists, loop-holes, and de-regulated legislature, and unconditional billion dollar bail-outs, are nothing more than White Collar Extortionists. The working poor, and rapidly vanishing middle-class, should never have to pay for bullshit wars, and fat cat luxuries, and private jets. PARTICULARLY NOT when American Citizens are constantly subject to the authoritarian-rule of police brutality and surveillance, for ever exercising our most basic and fundamental human, and civil-rights. Meanwhile, the cable-news mob continues to lie to the American public about the false justifications for all these ongoing military invasions and occupations of other nations. Americans never gave their consent to these wars, and the occupied peoples surely never gave their consent to be ruled over, oppressed, exploited, or otherwise terrorized, or killed by mercenary "security contractors" who have no moral right to kill civillians, anywhere. Beware the Pro-War Christians. No Blackwater (Ultra-Right-Wing, Michigan-Based Private Army) employees have been convicted of any crimes in Iraq--even when Human Rights Groups have characterized their shoot-to-kill policies as massacres, and yet, U.S. tax-paying protestors are constantly being tasered, truncheoned, and arrested for exercising "Free-Speech". What happened to "No Taxation Without Representation"?

"The Progressive Magazine" (March 2,008) reports that the F.B.I. has deputized these same business owners-more than 23,000 representatives of private-industry-to serve as secret informants and infiltrators ("Be The Eyes And Ears") for the Fed's little-known "INFRA-GARD" program. It's a matter of public record that these privilaged Infra-Gard members are given a business-class free-pass, and special treatment, in exchange for tips and information about their disgruntled employees, laid-off auto-workers, union activists, war-resistance organizers, and various other second-class citizens. They also participate in regular Martial Law drills. You are "free" to do as they tell you.

It's nothing like the Sixties, because most Americans just surf their friend's Facebook profiles, or watch cable, and never see the human casualties of war in the press. Music with a real point-of-view is amost never, never heard on the radio, anymore. They just want you to numbly shop, to a sterile soundtrack of, "My Lovely Lady Lumps". Bands like the Beat Angels, who played smart music, invested with real emotions, real heart, never get heard. They monopolize the airwaves with horrible shit, because these sinister, secretive, Masters Of War don't want us to think.

Ever since "Grunge", American's have been re-trained to accept, and to even embrace, dumber and dumber, souless mediocrity. I guess it was Sheryl Crow and Pam Anderson who really legitimized Kid Rock, somehow. Is he really good enough for you people? REALLY? Weiland, and Matchbox 20? Cos I deserve much better rock'n'roll than that. Bring back Cinderella, for fuck's sake. I'd probably even settle for the Black Crowes, at this point, and I usually can't stand yuppie jam-bands. Kid Rock makes Paul Stanley seem really deep and edgey. I fear we've all lost our perspective:70's Aerosmith should be THE STANDARD.

I used to be really, really hard-line, but thinking back, about the way I used to punish my old girlfriend Angie-for liking Poison and Warrant, even as me and my guitar players all felt perfectly entitled to totally take advantage of her kind-nature, and weekly paycheck, Bret Michaels/Jani Lane-style, I see that I was wrong. I just hate phony rock'n'roll.

Now that Madonna's been inducted into the "Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame", I'm takin' book here, on who's next-Tiffany, or New Kids On The Block? If you don't mind wading through piles of shit, there's still some good music being made, I think Alejandro Escovedo, Living Things, Jim Jones Revue, and Rodney Crowell's "Sex And Gasoline" all got flashes of brilliance, but the classic rock band who are capable of making good albums has gone the way of the 45 r.p.m., or 8-Tracks:Way Over-ripe for A Righteous Comeback. Comeback, Beat Angels! I miss ya-even the beetles missed ya...


Beat Angels were one of the last Real Rock'n'Roll bands to almost sortof come close to making it. While most of their former contemporaries were still imitating Sixx and Pearcey, or worse, yet: "going grunge", the Beat Angels were dedicated purveyors of exquisitely adolescent hard-pop ruminations on spiked watermelons, back porch fireworks, girls in hot pants, and more drinks on the roof...Idyllic afternoons holed up, abusing Stoli and Orange Crush in dark basements, flipping through old copies of Rock Scene Magazine, listening to Big Star on giant, clunkey headphones... Tortured romances, Retro-Glam nights at your favorite Local, road-weary tour diaries, late night drunken arguments about obscure rock'n'roll esoterica, and chronic, aching nostalgia...They were like Billy Idol's Generation X, revamped for the Uzi-Suicide Era. They always had way more in common with Stiv Bator, the Records, or Hollywood Brats, than they did with any of the eighties metal-head cock-rock.

We've seen firsthand, how efficiently the Big Capitalist Corporate State co-opt's individuals ideas, images, and virtual identity into it's artificial, mass-mediated, carbon-copied Meat-Machine. Yeah, yeah, all the slimiest Big-Box Chain-stores (that currently dictate C.D. prices, album artwork, and even lyrical content-just ask Sheryl Crow) are full of green-washed, pseudo progressive "Go Green" ephemera, and tattoo kitsch for the emo scene-kids, but when was the last time you held a print fanzine in your hands, or knew of an independent music label still willing to pay for studio-time? The 90's "Alternative" marketing-hoax did so much to suck the soul out of rock'n'roll, killing off all of our most effective underground networks, and long-standing institutions...and What did Cobain succeed at, really? Besides making millions for Geffen Records and Coutney Love? Establishment Mythology holds forth that the "Grunge" movement vanquished all the insensitive and generic spandex-screechers, but look around you. Even the most apathetic and unimaginative hairband-veterans all have successful careers. There's always another Rocklahoma on the horizon, or another jive reality-show starring some balding hair-metal heart-throb with a wig, and a bandanna. I guess the airwaves of State-Radio ARE still polluted with an unfortunate surplus of moaning, fake, grunge, angst. I suppose we DO have Kurt and Courtney to thank for Nickelback.

That old Candy song still echoes throughout all those wasted years: "Whatever Happened To Fun?????"

It's a sad, corporate-ruled world, and if they can get inside our heads with their relentless advertising coercions, and upwardly maneuvering in-laws, and former peer-groups, who foolishly mistake inventory for identity, you're liable to trade, "Wine, Women, and Loud, Happy Song" for 9-5 ass-kissing, a never-ending guilt-trip, and friendly gameshows hosted by Howie Mandel. If they can trick you into exchanging rock'n'roll for television, it's lights-out, baby.

Some say day-job drudgery, and domesticity, can be dangerous for a certain type of artiste (Reformed carouser Iggy "settled down" for a number of years, and now, he's apparently only got two speeds:Lecherous, faux-Leonard Cohen, OR Clown Posse Rage Metal for the upper middle class Festival crowds), but having a job is certainly no more dangerous than enduring a homeless, haphazard lifestyle, filled with constant losses, physical beat-downs, evictions, and worry, in perrenial, pigsty squalor. Or the inebreiation required to gut it all out, in the stark poverty, alone. 'Used to be a barrel of laughs, but not so much, when you're tired and old, and seen it all before. What's one more rooming-house exile, roaming around with a bedroll and a dog? You can get to the point where a fresh pack of Marlboros won't even bring you pleasure no more....

So what happens when the Lost Boys finally acquire gainful employment, and achieve some of the comforting insulation of middle-class respectability? Will they stop daydreaming about Porno-Barbarellas, and T. Rex pinball machines, prematurely settling into the grumpy old sourpussed easy chairs of middle-age, staring blankly at Comedy Central adult-cartoons, and quietly assimilating into rank and file, consumer-culture? Nahhh...those cats ALWAYS defied the odds, and emphasized soul-baring live performances, and intelligent song-craft, above all else. Even in their wilder days, they demonstrated unflinching insights, and mature awarenesses. Mixed-in, with all the songs about girls were tinges of sorrow, gratitude, failure and redemption, failure and more failure, pain, regret, and casual ruin, alongside the usual mad search for Teenage Kicks. One trusts they'll still have something vital to say, in times as interesting as these-when irredeemably unrepentant, high-rolling corporations and shadowy, oil-slick politicians have "privatized" untold profits, while "socializing" all their losses. When the cops and big-media are paid to silence us meddlesome tax-payers, and adult professionals want you to discuss "American Idol", their Wii scores, and Beyonce', on cell-phones some more, while they're out, shopping. It's mad. The Beat Angels have many fans who are waiting and waiting for them to chime-in, on summa this weirdness, come back, and complete that third album. Not only does Smith have a keen eye, hatred of injustice, and an authentic rock'n'roll voice, but tangential brushes with the Vocalist, revealed him to be a generous, good humored, kind gentleman-a good fella, so you kinda have to keep rootin' for the cat.

Few others are as charming, or charmed in many ways, as these aging 'Angels, but it must be dizzying, to have come so close to living out a real rags to riches rock'n'roll fairytale, only to see it snatched away, suddenly, for no good reason. He never seems bitter, but y'know, I know I'd feel cheated. Stardom ain't what it used to be, anyway-I mean, who'd want to worry about competing with Lady Gaga (Revenge of Stacey Q!), or any of those duos, or trios, with the goofy attire, and rehashed, patty-cake beats from Paul's Boutique; American Idol big-media-juggernauts; and Weird Beard pagan fest jambands? The perceptive fellas of the Beat Angels were probably never gullible and naieve enough to believe in some Cure-All, Happy Ever After, Celebrityhood Pipe Dream, anyways....Oh, but I was!

If you're a yuppie A & R type, trolling around on-line, for that Next Big Two-Piece Experimental Group With A Hot Chick In Crazy Threads, and A Brand New Hybrid Sound-Collage, you'd probably be more successful, and appreciated, long-term, if you just got behind real artists--such as these, who create really outstanding and memorable songs of lasting beauty. Just an idea.




Beat Angels Fans should petition Gilby at




(-Kenney Silvers)

SugarBuzz Magazine