Adelaide, Flinders Universities 1970 – as friends they got together and formed The Moonshine Jug & String Band. Its members included brothers John and Rick Brewster; and a Belfast born but Adelaide-raised Bernard ‘Doc’ Neeson – a distant relative of Ned Kelly. With their eclectic music rooted in a mix of 1920’s blues and jazz replete with washboard, washtub bass, banjo, harmonica and kazoos, their shambolic origins eventually gave way to genuine dexterity as they became a hit on the Adelaide arts scene. While studying to complete degree courses, Doc, John and Rick eventually succumbed to their appetite to pursue a career as professional musicians.
In 1974 the Brewster brothers and Doc decided to ditch the jug band and become electric warriors along with drummer Charlie King. Starting out with raucous cover versions of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll and recycled rhythm and blues, it was only a matter of time before they would replace other people’s songs with their own. The first hint that they were putting together something special came with their appearance at the 1975 Sunbury outdoor festival where their good time rocking scored them a standing ovation and three encores from a wildly receptive audience in the tens of thousands.
Buoyed by the encouragement of Bon Scott and the Young brothers they moved to Sydney in early 1976, bolstered by a name change and evolving their sound to a more contemporary rock feel. Now as The Angels and following the recommendation of Scott and Angus and Malcolm Young, they were signed by Vanda and Young to join AC-DC at the Alberts label after successfully recording some demos of their new material.
Following the May 1976 release of the Vanda-Young produced debut single that would later become an institution via it’s notorious audience chant of “no way – get fucked – fuck off” – ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ became a song as identifiably Australian as a pie and sauce. The chant has ensured it’s become one of the most iconic and best loved Australian rock songs of all time – although the band played no part in its original conception, which remains a mystery.
‘Face To Face’ (August ’78) unleashed a stash of classic songs, all written by the now established song-writing team of ‘Brewster/Neeson/Brewster’. Fans joyfully sang along to anthemic classics ‘Coming Down’, ‘Take A Long Line’, ‘I Ain’t The One’, ‘Be With You’, ‘Straightjacket’ and ‘After The Rain’ – while the bleak and atmospheric ‘Outcast’ and the climactic showstopper ‘Marseilles’ displayed other brilliant dimensions.
With the release of their fourth album ‘Dark Room’ (June 1980), they hit the jackpot with their biggest hit single yet, the number one ‘No Secrets’, penned by Neeson and Bidstrup, further consolidating their enormous home success. Nowhere was this more apparent than when they played to a record 1979 New Year’s Eve concert crowd of 100,000 on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.
Referance material: Ross Stapleton www.theangels.com.au