Polydor PD-1-6300 [2391 486], 1980
Reissued as Polydor 827 560-1, 1986

Towards the end of the Seventies, rock and roll began to revolt against the almost baroque ornamentation that had been inflicted upon it during the decade. The British scene plunged into punk; the Americans, more conservative, retreated into Sixties garage-band aesthetics.

Cover art Blue Angel, the band, paid homage to those time-honored virtues of guitar, bass, drums, and organ with just a hint of cheese, on its one and only album. The rhythm section was solid, and organist de fromage John Turi doubled on sax at exactly the right moments. And over all this tumult came the three-octave wails of hitherto-unheard singer Cyndi Lauper. Polydor issued "I Had a Love" b/w "Late" as a single, and sat back and waited.

But Blue Angel, the album, stiffed, its spirited music and pristine Roy Halee production notwithstanding; the band eventually went their separate ways. Cyndi Lauper went on to bigger and better things, but fortunately for us, she never quite got Blue Angel out of her system: for her first solo album for CBS, She's So Unusual, she recorded a track ("Witness") from the old Blue Angel days, and on her second album, True Colors, she recorded a new version of "Maybe He'll Know", from the Blue Angel album. Fellow Angel John Turi showed up again on Lauper's A Night to Remember, once again on keyboards and saxophone. And those who might have wondered how Lauper would have had the nerve to redo "What's Going On", a song written by and forever associated with Marvin Gaye, might have wondered less had they heard Blue Angel's take on Gene Pitney's "I'm Gonna Be Strong". Polydor did its best to make sure they got a chance; after Cyndi sold zillions of records on her own, the label reissued Blue Angel with a big "Cyndi Lauper!" sticker on the shrink-wrap. Sales were modest, but you do what you gotta do. Reports of various one-off reunions have appeared, but no vinyl has been forthcoming so far; still, I'd like to think they're still around. Certainly Cyndi is. And so is Arthur Neilson, who toured with Shemekia Copeland in 1999 and is a featured guitarist on Popa Chubby Presents the New York City Blues (Dixie Frog, 1999). John Turi is doing production for singer Emily Long. And Lee Brovitz represents many artists through his Bassic-Lee Music. The Blue Angel LP actually got a CD issue in 2005, in a limited edition of 5000 copies, courtesy of Hip-O Select.

Further exploration: More than you ever dreamed you wanted to know about Blue Angel and its erstwhile vocalist can be found on the excellent Cyndi Lauper site operated by the estimable Jean-Marc Piraprez. And what's more, there is now a Blue Angel Tribute site for your viewing (and listening!) pleasure. Don't miss it.

Track listing:

  • Maybe He'll Know (Lauper-Turi)
  • I Had a Love (Lauper-Turi)
  • Fade (Lauper-Turi)
  • Anna Blue (Lauper-Turi)
  • Can't Blame Me (Lauper-Turi)
  • Late (Brovitz-Lauper-Turi)
  • Cut Out (King-Mack-Fowler)
  • Take a Chance (Lauper-Turi)
  • Just the Other Day (Lauper-Turi)
  • I'm Gonna Be Strong (Mann-Weil)
  • Lorraine (Lauper-Turi)
  • Everybody's Got an Angel (Brovitz-Lauper-Morelli-Neilson-Turi-Gross)

Lee Brovitz, bass
Johnny "Bullet" Morelli, drums
Cyndi Lauper, vocals
Arthur "Rockin' A" Neilson, guitar
John Turi, keyboards, saxophone

Produced and Engineered by Roy Halee
Recorded at Media Sound, New York, New York
Mixed at Kingdom Sound Studios, Syosset, New York
Mastered at Sterling Sound by Greg Calbi

Updated 13 August 2006
Thanks to Galea Horowitz for getting the word out on Arthur Neilson, and to John Turi, Lee Brovitz and Paul Fannon for valuable emendations.

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Copyright © 1997-2006 by Charles G. Hill
Cover art © 1980 by Polydor Inc.