| Surely one of the most unsung bands in the history of American hard rock music, BANGreleased three full-length albums for Capitol Records in the early 1970’s, that criminally sank without a trace. Capitol artist development at the time just did not know what to do with the band that was often called “America’s answer to Black Sabbath“. On April 20, Ripple Music will release The Best of BANG, the first-ever best of compendium from the band widely considered an important forerunner to the early Doom Metal genre.
In advance of the record’s release, Dangerous Minds premieres The Best of BANG in full, noting, “If you’re a fan of the druggy, pimply, riff-laden hesher rock as heard on the very very wonderful Brown Acid and Acid Nightmares compilations, then you might want to check out the unsung proto-doom metal group BANG”. Stream BANG‘s The Best of BANG now at this location (via Dangerous Minds).
The Philadelphia-born band was birthed in August of 1969, just after Woodstock, by 16-year-old high school dropouts Frank Ferrera (vocals, bass) and Frank Gilcken (guitar), who then swiftly recruited a 26-year-old Tony Diorio (drums), who answered their ad in a local newspaper. Undoubtedly the heaviest of America‛s ‘proto-metal’ rock bands from the period, BANG also had a strong sense of melodic power, which should have led them to much bigger things. In the summer of 1971, after 18 months of woodshedding rehearsals in a South Philly basement, BANG decided to take a road trip to Florida to try their fortune. While buying some rolling papers in the Sunshine State, they learned about a Small Faces and Deep Purple concert nearby in Orlando. They showed up at the venue and brazenly declared they were ready to go on stage. The concert organizer asked them to set up and play for him. After a couple songs, he told them they were opening for Rod Stewart and Small Faces. Before the trio knew it, BANG was playing with Bachman Turner Overdrive, Deep Purple, Three Dog Night, Fleetwood Mac, Ike and Tina Turner, The Doobie Brothers, and even Black Sabbath. Capitol Records signed them, and three LPs were released: Bang (1972), which charted at #164 on Billboard’s Top 200, Mother/Bow to the King (1972), and Music (1973).
It was during the early “basement” period that they changed their name from the Magic Band (a name already being used by Captain Beefheart’s band) to BANG. Tony had been reading Rolling Stone when he came across the headline “English groups bang in USA,” a reference to the explosion of British bands that were causing a sensation in America. The word “BANG” leaped off the page at him, and the erstwhile Magic Band became BANG.“We wanted to find a name that was short and powerful”, explains Ferrara. “BANG was short, sweet and to the point. It fit our music.”
The band’s self-titled Capitol debut, BANG, received positive reviews from the era’s pundits, with Billboard commenting that the band “on first listen sound incredibly like Led Zeppelin…they play at the same frenetic pace as Zeppelin, and Frank Ferrara’s vocals are so similar to those of Robert Plant’s as to be downright amazing.” Bolstered by such comments, Suddenly, it seemed, the band were on their way to stardom. The success of the album was cemented by the release of arguably the most contagious track, ‘Questions’, as a single which quickly climbed the Billboard singles chart.
This was followed by the monumental Mother/Bow To The King album in 1972 which should have exploded. Changes in personnel at their record company and an externally forced line-up change led to frustration and bewilderment before releasing their swansong 1973 album “Music“. Thereafter, the members of BANG dispersed to pursue other projects, but surprisingly reunited in 1996. The trio continues to perform live today.
Highly regarded as a cult act by many for years, it‛s now time for this truly amazing rock band to be enjoyed by a new audience. As can be heard, the versatility and songwriting skills of BANG were (are) second to none. In 2015, BANG‘s debut was inducted into theDecibel magazine Hall of Fame, being hailed as “one of the ultimate “cult classics”.