UNDER-APPRECIATED ROCK BAND OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH 2010: BANG
While in my 20’s (in the late 1970’s), I got to know three brothers in Raleigh; and the youngest of them was really into music. Unlike the last time, when I was still in high school, I was a little more grown up; I still didn’t really take notes, but I would often buy records by some of these bands. The bands that he introduced me to include the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind, still two of my all-time favorite groups; Styx; Be-Bop Deluxe; and Kraftwerk. Some of these albums were easy finds, and others were really tough. I found one of the Pink Fairies’ albums plus a retrospective album right away, but I didn’t get my copy of the album that I actually heard, What a Bunch of Sweeties until I ordered it off the Internet 20-some years later. I found their first album, Never Never Land while I was living in New York in the 1990’s; the pricetag was among the highest I have ever paid for any album ($50). A few weeks later, I read in Village Voice where one of their writers found a pristine copy of a Pink Fairies album for sale for a quarter at a homeless person’s table. There was no question in my mind that this was the very same album that I had paid 200 times as much to get; I trust that this writer gave the homeless man more than the coin he was asking if he was just going to dump it for a profit at a local record store.
The situation with BANG was similar: I found their second album Music pretty quickly, but I couldn’t find the one that I had heard, their first album Bang anywhere – and, believe me, I asked! My brother Tom Winfree thought he had found it for me one Christmas, but it turned out to be the first album by Rush instead, though that was another really good one. Finally, I came across it at one of my favorite used record stores ever, the Record Hole in Raleigh. The second side in particular is truly marvelous hard rock. The gatefold cover is really neat: a gunslinger on a corner of the back cover holding a revolver that expands absurdly until the front cover is basically just the very end of the barrel, with (of course) “Bang” in an explosion inside it.
Bang was organized in Florida in the early 1970’s, and they were one of the early power trios: guitar, bass, drums, with one member doubling as the vocalist. They are not what I would call a heavy metal band, but they certainly have a loud enough lead guitar to go that way. One of their songs, “Lions Christians” is told from the perspective of the believers about to meet their deaths in the Roman arenas. Christian-themed rock songs were quite rare in those days; two of the earliest Christian contemporary hit songs came out in the same year (1971): “Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band and “Put Your Hand in the Hand” by Ocean. Interestingly, both are Canadian bands.
They were proud to have released a total of three albums on the Beatles’ label, Capitol Records (a fourth, previously unreleased album that predated their first album was later released when “two-fer” CD’s came out in 2004); and the first album had some charting success. The liner notes on most albums are usually puffery or simply inane, but theirs were really charming: You could tell that they were really trying to do their best with their music. The band reformed about 10 years ago and also released an album in 2001 and in 2004.
The original website that I came across in the early 2000’s is still up and has a lot of other cool information on the group that I won’t expound on here: www.bangmusic.com/multimedia/RED%20BANG%20site/BANG/group.htm. Another, much more comprehensive website at www.bangmusic.com/multi.html has everything you would ever want to know about Bang; 9 of the 13 “chapters” in the life of the band have been written.
So with all of that information available, and with at least some fans out there that must remember this cool group, you would think someone would have something to say about them. Well, so far, here is all that Wikipedia says (though more is available on two later bands with the same name): “Bang was an American hard rock band from Florida, active briefly in the early 1970s. The group released several albums and had one minor hit single with ‘Questions‘, which reached #90 on the Billboard Hot 100.” Allmusic has even less: “Bang was a rock trio from Florida led by singer Frank Ferrara that charted with its self-titled debut album and the single ‘Questions‘ in 1972.” They each also give bandmembers’ names and a list of their albums. But there really needs to be more, and until I can get around to adding it, this little post will have to do.
First album cover (1971)
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Flashback: The Under-Appreciated Rock Band of the Month for March 2010 – BANG.
Every so often, I check on Allmusic and Wikipedia and see whether anyone has come along and updated the scant or nonexistent information on the UARB’s that I have written about in the past. Usually nothing has changed. However, there is a lot of information on Bang in Allmusic now, and the stub in Wikipedia has been expanded quite a lot as well. They coulda been contenders as it turned out: They were being touted as America’s answer to Black Sabbath at one point, but their manager and record company derailed their desire to put out a concept album as their debut album. It is understandable I think: The album had the forbidding name Death of a Country, and the eponymous album they did put out instead was first-rate hard rock. (Death of a Country apparently remained unreleased until a 4-CD box set came out just last year).
The lone trip to the charts (the song stalled at #90) by Bang was “Questions” – and does it ever kick ass; see for yourself on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeFhEaaeozg&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL8CCE24840AAAE281 . Another track from that first album could be considered a Christian contemporary song; it is called “Lions Christians” and can be heard at www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcrPOI7roVw . They have tons more songs available on YouTube, including tracks from their later, somewhat tamer albums, though they are still quite enjoyable.
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Photo Gallery: The Under-Appreciated Rock Band of the Month for March 2010 – BANG
Here is the first album, Bang, the one I looked so hard for:
This second album, Mother / Bow to the King actually had what looked like two front covers; I always assumed that these were each going to be separate “concept albums”, but instead, they put the two half-albums into a single disc.
This was their final album of the 1970’s, Music; all three are quite good, though the first is still my favorite.
This record, Death of a Country was to be their first album actually, though it remained unreleased until 2004:
The band has since released two more albums, Return to Zero (2001) and The Maze (2004). This is the front cover of an ambitious offering of all four of their 1970’s albums in a single four-CD box set called Bullets.
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It was about a year ago that I started my series on Under-Appreciated Rock Bands of the Month (including one Under-Appreciated Rock Artist of the Month), to celebrate the more obscure albums and bands in my record collection that had not yet been profiled in Wikipedia. The list shows a wide-ranging list of types of music I think:
December 2009 – BEAST, 1960’s hippie-flavored rock band (2 albums)
January 2010 – WENDY WALDMAN, 1970’s singer-songwriter (6 albums)
February 2010 – CYRUS ERIE, 1960’s garage rock band (single)
March 2010 – BANG, 1970’s hard rock band (4 albums)
April 2010 – THE BREAKAWAYS, 1970’s power pop rock band (several singles; retrospective album)
May 2010 – THE NOT QUITE, 1980’s psychedelic revival rock band (3 albums)
June 2010 – WATERLILLIES, 1990’s electronica rock band (2 albums)
July 2010 – THE EYES, 1970’s punk rock band (several singles)
August 2010 – QUEEN ANNE’S LACE, 1960’s pop-psychedelic rock band (1 album)
September 2010 – THE STILLROVEN, 1960’s garage rock band (several singles; retrospective album)
October 2010 – THE PILTDOWN MEN, 1960’s instrumental rock band (several singles; retrospective album)
November 2010 – SLOVENLY, 1980’s indie rock band (5 albums)
(Year 1 Review)