Casablanca Records Co-founder Discusses Angel’s Lack of Success
For many fans of classic melodic rock, Angel is one of those bands that should have achieved bigger things. Their classy blend of progressive instrumentation and gigantic vocal hooks sounded like nothing else when they first hit the scene in the 1970s, but as you’ll read below, even with their powerhouse songwriting and a big label behind them, Angel could never truly crack the mainstream like many of their peers did.
Noisecreep spoke with Larry Harris, co-founder of Casablanca Records, about the band and their days at his label. If you haven’t done so already, you should check out ‘And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records,’ Harris’ addicting new book about his days at the infamous record label.
Another band that Casablanca Records got really behind was Angel. The label used a lot of the same type of marketing moves to sell the band to the public [as Kiss]. In retrospect, do you think that was the right way to approach it?
I begged stations to play Angel, and no one wanted to. The label spent a lot of money on marketing and promoting the group, but nothing worked. The idea behind Angel was that they were the antithesis of Kiss. Angel used to be dressed in all white, plus the guys were great looking and had gorgeous hair (laughter). They were really good-looking guys, and we figured the chicks would dig them.
Kiss had a great look but, if you took off their make-up, they weren’t the best looking guys (laughter). I remember Paul Stanley would wear this midriff shirt thing and his gut would show. I hated when he wore that thing! But yeah, Angel was meant to be the complete opposite of Kiss, but we just couldn’t get people to play their damn records!
Kiss had outside collaborators when it came to the songwriting department. Did Casablanca Records ever suggest for Angel to use some of the same writers. I’m talking about people like Vini Poncia and Sean Delaney.
We couldn’t use Sean Delaney for Angel, because he was Bill Aucoin’s lover and since Bill managed Kiss, it would have been a conflict of interest. But that might have worked. The thing with Neil [Bogart, head of Casablanca Records] was that he didn’t force our artists to work with outside songwriters. Neil had a great way about suggesting collaborations, but he never pushed it hard.
Do you still keep in touch with the guys in Angel?
I talk to [keyboardist] Gregg Giuffria from time to time. He invented some kind of device for slot machines, so he’s made a ton of money in Vegas through the years. He was always a very intelligent guy, so I was not surprised.
Can you talk about some of the more obscure Casablanca Records rock acts like Trigger? It seemed like you guys shifted most of your attention to the disco stuff in the late 1970s.
No, I think they got a fair shot. We just couldn’t get Trigger on the radio. Back then, everyone wanted to get AM stations, because people couldn’t get FM in their cars and homes as much. When FM radio did become the prominent format, all of a sudden the big corporations took over, and it was even tougher to get new bands played. But we did fight for Trigger, and it just didn’t work. I thought they had great tunes though.