Rensselaer native Eddie Angel is coming back home, and he’s bringing along a guest.
The former Star Spangled Washboard Band guitarist has not been a stranger to the Capital District since he moved down to Nashville in 1984. When he’s not performing with his band, the Los Straitjackets, he still gets together with Johnny Rabb to tour regularly as members of The Neanderthals. But, Angel’s recent plans don’t involve getting pre-historic on a local audience. He will, however, be tipped a hand to his familiar rockabilly roots during a May 9 performance at The Hanger in Troy.
Angel is currently touring with Garry Tallent, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and the only founding member of The E Street Band (sans Bruce Springsteen) still performing. It’s Tallent’s first solo tour since he started playing along with those kids from Asbury Park 46 years ago. And, he does so in support of the release of his Break Time LP.
“Fans always wonder what it is I do between E Street Band tours: This is my answer,” Tallent told Backstreets Magazine, a quarterly periodical exclusive to news on Springsteen. The E Street Band has long been associated with Springsteen since the 1973 release of Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
Break Time is the E Street bassist’s first solo album, on the label he co-owns, D’Ville Record Group. Initially available only on vinyl and digital download, a CD edition is to be released later this month. The 12-track release serves as an anthology of American rock and roll in several different forms: from Cajun to honky-tonk, rockabilly, and rhythm and blues.
“They’re my songs,” said Tallent, “and I chose the ones that fit the mold of the album that I was trying to do, which is my tribute to the ‘50s. That’s always been my favorite era of music.
“It’s not a Bruce Springsteen record.”
Angel co-produced the album at Tallent’s Moon Dog Studios in Nashville. They are joined on the album by Johnny Cash’s bassist Davie Roe, and the versatile Fats Kaplin on fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. Also appearing on the album is Jimmy Lester on drums, Dave Roe on standup bass, Randy Leago on accordion and Kevin Mckendree on piano. It should be noted that E Street band mate Nils Lofgren sings harmonies on one of the tracks, too.
Tallent has spent nearly half a century playing alongside Springsteen. In those years, there have been a handful of E Street Band members who have stepped out on their own to make a name for themselves. Before his death in 2011, Clarence Clemons released several solo albums, and was featured with Aretha Franklin, the Grateful Dead, and Jackson Browne, with whom he charted a hit single “You’re a Friend of Mine” in 1985. Most recently Steve Van Zandt appeared prominently as an actor in the hit cable series “Sopranos.” Despite his band mate’s successes, Tallent has only now struck out on his own.
And, Angel is right along with him.
At first glance, one can’t see how a Jersey boy and a Rensselaer kid managed to cross paths. But, it’s a friendship that goes back more than 20 years. Angel said it’s based upon a mutual love for good ol’ rock and roll.
“We’re both fans of ‘50s rock and roll,” said Angel, who can recall his first love for music involving The Beatles and its 1964 release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” “But, this is the first time we’ve done something like this. It’s the first time Garry’s ever done a solo tour. When he called me up a few years ago… he asked me if I could help him produce and play on it, I was really thrilled. I was very flattered that he would think of me. Because, he could ask anyone, you know?”
Break Time is Tallent’s interpretation of rock and roll’s roots. It’s not Top 40, and not alternative. Tallent and his band play a sound that is steeped in rock’s primordial soup that produced Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Lee Dorsey. Despite it not fitting into your typical radio format of today, it’s still very popular.
“It’s like asking why blues is still popular today,” said Angel. “There’s no time limit on it. When I hear on the radio, Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis, that never sounds dated. When I hear a Madonna song, it sounds dated. Something from the ‘90s? It sounds dated. So, I think there’s something classic in that music. A timelessness.”
Just a few days prior to the launch of the tour, Angel said he was looking forward to coming back home to the Capital District. Though Nashville was where he struck out to pursue his music career more than 30 years ago, he said he still won’t see it in the same way he does Rensselaer.
“It’s a great city but it’ll never be home,” said Angel. “My dream is when we become empty nesters, we’ll come visit in the summer. We won’t ever move back. We can’t afford New York state taxes.”
This article was originally published by The Spot 518. is property of Spotlight Newspapers in Albany, N.Y., and appears as a special to NYS Music. TheSpot518 and NYS Music work in partnership to provide readers with in-depth coverage on the local music scene in the Capital District and New York state, respectively. For more, visit TheSpot518.com.