Artist: The Arc Angels (Hard Rock)
Record Label: Geffen
1. Living in a Dream
2. Paradise Café
3. Sent by Angels
4. Sweet Nadine
5. Good Time
6. See What Tomorrow Brings
7. Always Believed in You
8. Famous Jane, The
9. Spanish Moon
10. Carry Me On
11. Shape I’m In
12. Too Many Ways to Fall
Playing time: 61 min.
Producer: Little Steven, Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul
Distributor: Universal Distribution
Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton were formerly part of Stevie Ray Vaughns 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).
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 Vaughans 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 Vaughans 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 IIs Vaughan dedication, “Sent by Angels,” features some of the albums 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. Sextons solo recording career had started as a teenager; Bramhall II and his father Doyle Bramhall were friends of Vaughans (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
Excellent – …a surprisingly gritty, revved-up roadhouse rock’n’roll outfit… Q (1992)
…dynamic and full…skill and zeal lift the Arc Angels above the pack…[they] unleash fire enough to revive the classic-rock format… Rolling Stone (1992)
The Arc Angels are an Austin, TX, rock quartet formed by the late Stevie Ray Vaughans rhythm section, Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums) after the guitarists death in 1990. The group is filled out by two lead vocalist/lead guitarists, Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton. Sexton had a Top 40 single in “Beats So Lonely” at the age of 17 in 1986. The Arc Angels released their self-titled debut album in January 1992 “When Charlie Sexton, Doyle Bramhall II, Tommy Shannon, and Chris Layton first formed the Arc Angels, the Double Trouble drummer had something of a vision. “I knew it would be great if this band stayed together 10 years,” says Layton, “but my gut instinct told me we’d burn bright and fast. It was like a torrid love affair — you can’t spend years on it and retain the volatility. It happens and its over. I didn’t see us all growing old together.”
Unfortunately, the Arc Angels wound up rising and falling harder and faster than even Layton expected. After a little more than two years together and only one album, Austins first legitimate rock & roll supergroup left behind a tawdry tale worthy of VH1s Behind the Music. Raging egos? Check. Serious drug abuse? Check. Terrible communication? Check. Unfulfilled promise? Definitely. And considering that the Arc Angels came together less than three months after Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash following a performance in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, how much more VH1 can you get than a band founded in the shadow of tragedy?
Yet for all the music industry pitfalls to which the group fell victim almost immediately, its hard to deny the Arc Angels became, as Rolling Stone suggested, “more than just another blues-rock band.” In fact, they were the rare supergroup that wound up sounding better than the sum of its parts. For even though their first and only album, 1992s self-titled Geffen release, sold a respectable 380,000 copies and earned them an armful of Austin Music Awards, including Best Band three years running (’92-’94), as well as a pair of Letterman appearances, the real proof of the Arc Angels’ posthumous vitality is how fresh the albums four singles sound today; “Living in a Dream,” “Sent By Angels,” “Shape I’m In,” and “Too Many Ways to Fall” are still KLBJ anthems.”