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Daniel Amos - 1977 Shotgun Angel

ARTIST: Daniel Amos
ALBUM: Shotgun Angel
LABEL: Marantha! Music
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 1990, Marantha!, CD08727


LINEUP: Terry Scott Taylor - rhythm guitars, vocals * Jerry Chamberlain - lead guitar, vocals * Mark Cook - keyboards, vocals * Marty Dieckmeyer - bass, backing vocals * Ed McTaggart - drums, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Days And Nights * 02 Black Gold Fever * 03 Praise Song * 04 Fathers Arms * 05 Meal * 06 Shotgun Angel * 07 Finale: Bereshith Overture * 08 Lady Goodbye * 09 The Whistler * 10 He's Gonna Do A Number On You * 11 Better * 12 Sail Me Away * 13 Posse In The Sky


This would have to be one of the most adventurous albums I've ever heard! I found these guys as an entry in my well read (and well worn) copy of the International Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. Just what they were doing there remains a mystery. Daniel Amos, to inform everyone from the outset, is a band name, not a person, and like similarly named weirdoes Max Webster, this team of Christian rockers have an identity crisis going on. Formed in 1974, the band had developed a country/West Coast angle to their sound, not unlike the The Band or Steely Dan. Being based in Southern California did not prove to be a setback, neither did their Christian beliefs. Their first album was released in 1976, but by the time 'Shotgun Angel' had arrived the following year, already the seeds of musical change were apparent. Even though there are thirteen tracks on the album, most hover around the two and a half minute mark, so it's not too long before you're at the end of the LP. But it's the content in between that'll have you bemused, or disbelieving upon first listen.

The Songs
Somehow the band manage to combine all manner of styles on this album. Cowpoke country and west coast rock in the vein of The Eagles are a couple that spring to mind. You'll have a field day listening to this! When the band operate in 'normal mode', their sound is a very pleasant Southern Californian form of mild rock, with emphasis on multi-part harmonies. You hear this on the opener 'Days And Nights', 'Fathers Arms' (which veers into symphonic rock a la ELO) and the rather lovely (but twangy) title track 'Shotgun Angel', which really does carry the spirit of The Eagles with ease. 'Posse In The Sky' is also similar, with the trademark vocal harmonies of Henley, Felder, Frey etc all shining through. Daniel Amos provide a few ballads too, 'Praise Song', 'Lady Goodbye' and 'Sail Me Away' lilt across the soundscape. Of the more unusual (near comical) moments include 'Meal', with its cowpoke country sound and leprechaun/elf voiceovers.. it's weird but it works! In the same vein is the Beverly Hillbillies ode 'Black Gold Fever', with it's footstomping barnstorming attitude. I'm not sure what the significance is with 'Finale: Bereshith Overture'. Its soundtrack qualities and cinematic sound do seem a little out of place here, as does 'The Whistler', with its mystical and ethereal overview. 'Better' is another that is slightly out of kilter, with a nod to David Bowie in the vocal department.

In Summary
Daniel Amos toured in support of the album, and understandably so, deployed the use of a full Orchestra to illustrate the sound even more. However, by the time their third album 'Horrendous Disc' saw the light of day in 1981 (it was recorded in 1978), their label Marantha! Music had pulled out of the rock n roll circuit, so Daniel Amos moved to a new label Solid Rock Records, owned by CCM artist Larry Norman - the album amazingly was co-produced by Mike Stone (Asia, New England), but considering it was three years delayed, the impetus was lost. Compounding the situation was that Daniel Amos's brand new 1981 album 'Alarma!' was to be released a mere few weeks later, and their sound had changed yet again, to a full-on new wave direction influenced by Talking Heads and Elvis Costello. Talk about record label shenanigans and identity disorder! Despite all this, most of Daniel Amos' recordings are available in CD format, and some have been released as deluxe editions. An interesting band, who still exist to this day, check out their website and Wikipedia pages plus other Internet links to find out more about them.

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#1 | Eric on October 10 2008 22:54:28
OMG- never thought I would see these guys here. Saw them in 1980 in a local college gym when they had gone 'new wave' and using what seemed to have been Ambrosia's sound system (Ambrosia's logo was silk screened on the cabinets, cases etc.) Wild band indeed, some catchy stuff too. Met the band after the show- really down to earth. Nice one George!

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