BY JAY ROBERTS (SPECIAL TO LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE)
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s that I have acquired through Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA.
The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from the 1980’s through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums.
These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
FIFTH ANGEL – TIME WILL TELL (1989)
The second and final album from the band Fifth Angel took the band’s sound in a decidedly more commercial direction than their self-titled debut album had.
Released in 1989, Time Will Tell was pretty much dead on arrival despite a rather impressive collection of very accessible sounding music. I know that we’re supposed to hate anything that sounds as if it is courting mega-success, but I can’t find my way to doing that with this particular album. According to various articles online, a lack of support from Epic Records and band turmoil doomed the band and this album upon release.
I’ve had this album in my own personal collection for years but the cassette finally wore out. Then I acquired a new cassette copy and got reminded just how much I enjoyed this album.
The majority of this 11-track album features fast paced rockers with hooks galore. There are a couple of ballads that slow things down a bit but they aren’t bad so I tend to like hearing those songs each time I play the album.
The song “Midnight Love” is the perfect song to showcase the album’s commercial appeal. In 1989, this song had the right combination of sound, pace, lyrics and overall balls out performance. It should’ve given Fifth Angel a hit song. The title track should also have been earmarked to raise the band’s profile.
But much like you’d probably expect, nothing seemed to quite fall in the band’s favor. Of course, what really shot the band in the foot was the fact that they never played live during the time they were together. In the late 1980’s, if you weren’t touring there was just no way to make inroads to success. Fifth Angel broke up in 1990 having played a grand total of ZERO live shows.
The best thing about listening to this album again was reminding myself that they had covered UFO’s “Lights Out”. You’d think I would have remembered that but you’d be wrong. Instead, when I was checking out the writing credits I “discovered” or rather rediscovered it was the UFO song. Don’t you just hate when the memory fades on certain things. By the way, while singer Ted Pilot, guitarist Ed Archer and drummer Ken Mary did the majority of the songwriting, all five members of the band saw at least one writing credit for the album.
For me, the best song on the album is “We Rule”, which is just an in your face all out aggressive track. It’s the song that would be akin to the band flexing their muscles for all to see.
The funny thing is that the band is actually back together. Since 2009, they’ve been an active band and have even played a handful of live concerts. Guitarists Ed Archer and Kendall Bechtel along with bassist John Macko have kept the band going with various singers and drummers. The band was rejoined by original drummer Ken Mary in 2017. There has even been talk of a new album at some point down the road.
Time Will Tell is a very underappreciated gem of an album that could’ve been a highlight of the 80’s metal era but instead, like the band itself, found it slipping into the cracks and being mostly forgotten.
Notes of Interest: Singer Lisa Dalbello appears on backing vocals for the songs “Broken Dreams” and “So Long”. The Canadian artist, aside from her own recording career, has been a successful writer and producer for a variety of other musicians.
Fifth Angel singer Ted Pilot has long since left the music business. When there was talk about the band performing live for the first time, he was initially on board to front the band. But it never came to fruition. He is an endodontist with a successful practice in Washington state.