The Angels are taking a long line yet again

Are we ever going to see their faces again? Yep, because The Angels have a new album and a national tour coming your way.


Jun 25, 2024, updated Jun 25, 2024
With a new album and a national tour The Angels just keep on keeping on. Pic by GazzaB

With a new album and a national tour The Angels just keep on keeping on. Pic by GazzaB

Fifty years ago, guitarist John Brewster heard Sherbet on the radio and thought : “We can do that”.

The “we” was his group with brother Rick and ‘Doc’ Neeson; the Moonshine Jug and String Band. The jug band morphed into Keystone Angels. The Keystone was eventually dropped and the satin and long hair didn’t last long either.

The Brewsters were book ending the stage in Ray-Bans and black shirts while Doc Neeson set the stage alight, earning a reputation as one of the great frontmen of his generation.

The Angels’ legend is built on terrific records, decades of touring and incendiary gigs that have gone down in rock n’ roll folklore. Along the way, friendships became strained, acrimony reared its head, the brothers split, but the band played on.

The Angels’ history is an incredibly complicated one. Doc passed away in 2014 and other key members have come and gone. But, in 2024, the Angels still have a head full of steam. There’s a 50 Not Out tour about to start that’s already selling out around the country, and there’s the band’s first new studio album in ten years, Ninety Nine.

“The first single is called Ninety Nine (Go For Broke), so we named it after that,” John Brewster says speaking from his home in Adelaide. “I was really excited about the single, because I’ve had absolutely no part in writing the song. It’s written by my son, Sam, and Nick Norton, who of course, as you know, is now fronting the band.”

The idea of The Angels releasing a single without J. Brewster or R. Brewster in the writers credits will seem surreal to many. With the late Doc Neeson, the Brewster/Neeson/Brewster partnership was responsible for a host of Australian rock classics, including Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face AgainTake A Long LineShadow BoxerMarseilles … the list goes on.

The current lineup of The Angels features John and Rick alongside John’s sons, the aforementioned, Sam on bass and Tom on drums. John Brewster met singer and guitarist Nick Norton when he mentored Nick’s first proper band out of high school, GangAwry.

“Those guys have really stepped up,” John says of the current lineup. “I had a health issue; I wasn’t able to go to the studio earlier in the year. There’s only a couple of songs where I’m a co-writer. However, I recorded my rhythm guitar in hotel rooms on the last tour, when we were on the road with Cheap Trick and Suzi Quatro. I did all my guitar parts in bars and in a couple of hotel rooms. And the last one I recorded was backstage before we played the Red Hot Summer show.

“Rick also recorded a lot of his guitar solos at home. He sits there and he does all the things that Rick does. He’s not flippant, like I am. He works on solos and guitar parts until they’re perfect. It’s absolutely brilliant, all his solos and the choice of melodies that he’s always come up with.”

Rick, the younger of the original Brewster Brothers has contributed a couple of future classics to the record. One of which he dreamed up. Literally.

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“He did,” John confirms. “I  think Follow The Red Thread might have been one of them, which I think is actually a masterpiece. It’s very left of centre for The Angels. But it is The Angels. It’s Rick Brewster. And to me, that’s the Rick Brewster that I kind of enticed into my world with the Moonshine, Jug and String Band and into rock and roll. Rick was on his way to maybe being a concert pianist.

“I mean, he’d probably laugh at me for saying that. But I think that that’s how good he was. His son Jode plays saxophone on the song too.”

John is equally enthusiastic about the talents of new front man, Nick Norton. For years Nick occupied the drum stool while Dave Gleeson, of Screaming Jets fame, took centrestage. When Dave moved on, Nick was ready to trade places and take his place at the front of the stage. Norton’s voice is full of character and is occasionally reminiscent of the departed Neeson.

“I’ve always known about Nick’s potential to be the frontman for us,” John says. “And Rick and I used to say, ‘Well, if Dave ever decides to move on, we’ll get Nick out the front’. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. And boy, has he stepped up to the plate.

“We’ve parted company with Dave on the best of terms. Nick is somebody that I’ve always known about. I mean, he was at school with my son, Sam. I went to a music evening there years ago. Sam performed with a couple of guys and Nick did something too. And I just went, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing’. So, I introduced myself and I said, ‘I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed what you’ve just done’.

“Now he’s fronting The Angels and everyone’s loving him. And, I think part of that is because he does have such charisma. I haven’t been this excited about anything we’ve done in the studio for many, many years. I’m proud of everything this band has done, but we have what I call benchmark albums, particularly Face to Face, No Exit and Dark RoomNinety Nine, to me, is a benchmark Angels album.”

Ninety Nine is out June 28 through Bloodlines and a national tour will follow its release

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