Rolling Stone - 7/9/92, p.1073 Stars
- Good - "...dynamic and full...skill and zeal lift the Arc Angels above the pack...[they] unleash fire enough to revive the classic-rock format..."
Q - 6/92, p.914 Stars
- Excellent - "...a surprisingly gritty, revved-up roadhouse rock'n'roll outfit..."
The cassette version only of ARC ANGELS on DGC [2064 24465] was reissued on November 4, 1997.
Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton were formerly part of Stevie Ray Vaughn's backing band, Double Trouble.
Arc Angels: Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton (vocals, guitars); Tommy Shannon (bass, background vocals); Chris Layton (drums, background vocals).
Personnel: Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton (vocals, guitar); Ian McLagan (keyboards); Chris Layton (drums, background vocals); Tommy Shannon (background vocals).
Recording information: 1992.
There are one-hit wonders throughout the history of music, but very few one-album wonders like the Arc Angels. After the death of blues-rock guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan, fellow singing guitarists, Texans, and Vaughan devotees Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton formed the quartet with Vaughan's rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton. Their 1992 debut release would also be their swan song, but the self-titled album would prove to be one of the best rock/pop/blues recordings of the decade as well. The opening "Living in a Dream" is the only tune Sexton and Bramhall II co-composed, and is perhaps the closest that the Arc Angels come to re-creating Vaughan's signature sound. "Paradise Cafe" is one of a handful of tracks Sexton co-wrote with pop composer Tonio K., but he and Bramhall II engage in some ZZ Top-like call-and-response vocals, and Bramhall II's Vaughan dedication, "Sent by Angels," features some of the album's most impassioned singing. Funky tunes like "Sweet Nadine," "Good Time," and "Carry Me On" lighten the mood, and Shannon, Layton, and guest keyboardist Ian McLagan play brilliantly throughout in setting up the singing guitarists. The spirit of Vaughan permeates the recording, from the production of Little Steven to the liner notes ("Dedicated to our friend, Stevie Ray Vaughan. We miss you"), yet never sounds forced, purposeful, or contrived. Alas, the final two songs -- the rocking "Shape I'm In" and epic "Too Many Ways to Fall" -- sport titles that point toward the Arc Angels being a Vaughan-like comet rather than a future veteran group. Sexton's solo recording career had started as a teenager; Bramhall II and his father Doyle Bramhall were friends of Vaughan's (the elder Bramhall even composing and co-composing tunes with the guitar giant). But the two frontmen who complemented each other so well nonetheless couldn't blend their egos as easily. Arc Angels stands as testimony that a band needn't have a long career to have a lasting legacy. ~ Bill Meredith