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BOOK REVIEW: The Angels by Bob Yates, with Rick & John Brewster

BOOK REVIEW: The Angels by Bob Yates, with Rick & John Brewster

Penguin Random House
August 2017
Paperback, $34.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Non-Fiction/Music/Entertainment

8.5/10

“It’s a hell of a story” screams the blurb accompanying this rather excellent trawl through The Angels’ career as Aussie rock legends – and there’s no arguments from me about that assertion.

Starting as the hillbilly Moonshine Jug And String Band, before evolving into The Keystone Angels (complete with glam satin outfits and long hair), the finally settled on The Angels and embarked on a career that turned Aussie pub rock on its head – The Brewster’s superb guitar work; Doc Neeson’s stunningly dramatic frontman schtick and lyrics; and the sublime rhythm section of the late Chris Bailey and Buzz Bidstrup – thrilled hundreds of thousands, and did their damnedest to break internationally.

This is where it all came tumbling down time and time again, sadly – bad management, bad record deals, bad decisions repeatedly crushed the band in America. Despite the fact that the likes of Guns n’ Roses and Great White were huge fans, oh the difference a couple of decisions and contracts could have made!

Rob Yates was a friend of the band in the mid-‘70s, and remained close to the Brewster Brothers through all their ups and downs. His documentation of their career is thorough, well researched, and – although it has already been criticised by Doc Neeson’s son as being one sided – doesn’t pull punches. Pretty much everyone involved with in the band’s history (and there are a few as members come and go and come back and go again and complain and launch legal action and come back and go again) is presented warts and all – contributions lauded, negativity exposed, The Brewsters included.

There are tales in the book which would give the families of most involved a shudder or two – and Doc Neeson’s foibles, and The Brewster’s frustrations with their bandmate, are given a lot of focus. Provided we realise whose perspective this book is from – and their willingness to publicly acknowledge their own failings and weaknesses – then that’s fine. No doubt a book from Doc’s side would be very different, for better or worse.

Less acceptable is that the era with Bob Spencer and James Morley in the band could have had more air time – perhaps that’s down to the book: like the accompanying double CD retrospective Brothers, Angels & Demons, it’s very Brewster-centric? There’s also a little negligence to timelines – months are mentioned often, but years slip by easily and it’s sometimes tricky to pinpoint where we’re at in the story.

But despite all this, The Angels is a fantastic and absorbing read, and a document which raises as many ‘what if’ questions as it does provide shock value – and not just the se and drugs variety. The Brewsters in a dog-masked kiddie band? Rick working as a handyman for a couple of lean years?

It’s all in here and it’s a great read.

BOOK REVIEW: The Angels by Bob Yates, with Rick & John Brewster

Filed Under: Book ReviewsOther Reviews

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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  1. Bridget says:

    I would like to thank the Brewster brothers and their mate bob yates for writing this book.It gives a glimpse into what Doc Neeson had to put up with whilst a member of the legal entity known as ‘The Angels’. Names of family members get the ‘near enough is good enough’ treatment. If you are going to write a book, at least try and get the NAMES right! Let alone the supposed ‘facts’ contained within the diatribe. Doc’s supposed dirty laundry gets aired publicly while others have their dirty little secrets obscured. Sure, Doc was a flawed human being (as are we all). However, he was also a extraordinarily talented performer, singer and SONGWRITER! Name another lead singer with the energy and sheer staying power that Doc possessed during his younger years… After the chanting of ‘Angels!, Angels!, Angels!’, the next chant was ‘Doc!, Doc!, Doc!’. It obviously must be a thorn in the side of some, who cannot give Doc (even in death) the kudos he always rightly deserved. He was a legend! If you don’t believe me, get onto youtube and see for yourself. The Angels with Doc out front was a force to be reckoned with. RIP Doc, you will never be forgotten.

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