Arc Angels were a blues rock band formed in Austin, Texas in the early 1990s. The band was composed of guitarist and singers Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton and two former members of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band Double Trouble, drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. The ‘Arc’ in the band’s name came from the Austin Rehearsal Complex where the band first started jamming.
Their 1992 debut album, Arc Angels, met with critical approval and reached No. 127 on the Billboard chart. Arc Angels made their network television debut on the NBC show Late Night with David Letterman on June 9, 1992, performing “Living In A Dream”. They performed on the show again on January 6, 1993, this time playing “Too Many Ways to Fall”.
Bramhall’s heroin addiction and internal friction caused the breakup of the band in 1993. The Arc Angels broke up in October of that year, concluding their run with a series of farewell concerts at Austin’s Backyard outdoor venue. Beginning in 2002, the Arc Angels reunited for occasional live performances.
In recent years, Bramhall has played guitar in Eric Clapton’s band and toured with Roger Waters. Charlie Sexton has toured with Bob Dylan. Meanwhile, Layton and Shannon have recorded three albums with the Texas soul quintet Storyville. They have also backed such artists as Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and John Mayer.
In March 2009, the members of Arc Angels, minus Shannon, announced that they would be reuniting, releasing a live album and DVD of concert footage/audio taken during 2005, touring extensively and beginning work on their second album. The album/DVD “Living in a Dream” was released in 2009, containing live renditions of previously released Arc Angels songs, new songs performed live and three new studio tracks. The launch of their tour was at Austin’s annual South by Southwest Festival. Although the band never officially broke up again, members pursued solo projects and there have been no talks about future Arc Angels releases or concerts to this date. In 2014 while on stage Bramhall referred to the Arc Angels as “this band I was in” further cementing their demise.
Arc Angels is the self-titled debut album by Arc Angels, released in 1992. (by wikipedia)
There are one-hit wonders throughout the history of music, but very few one-album wonders like the Arc Angels. After the death of blues-rock guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan, fellow singing guitarists, Texans, and Vaughan devotees Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton formed the quartet with Vaughan’s rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton.
Their 1992 debut release would also be their swan song, but the self-titled album would prove to be one of the best rock/pop/blues recordings of the decade as well. The opening “Living in a Dream” is the only tune Sexton and Bramhall II co-composed, and is perhaps the closest that the Arc Angels come to re-creating Vaughan’s signature sound. “Paradise Cafe” is one of a handful of tracks Sexton co-wrote with pop composer Tonio K., but he and Bramhall II engage in some ZZ Top-like call-and-response vocals, and Bramhall II’s Vaughan dedication, “Sent by Angels,” features some of the album’s most impassioned singing. Funky tunes like “Sweet Nadine,” “Good Time,” and “Carry Me On” lighten the mood, and Shannon, Layton, and guest keyboardist Ian McLagan play brilliantly throughout in setting up the singing guitarists.
The spirit of Vaughan permeates the recording, from the production of Little Steven to the liner notes (“Dedicated to our friend, Stevie Ray Vaughan. We miss you”), yet never sounds forced, purposeful, or contrived. Alas, the final two songs — the rocking “Shape I’m In” and epic “Too Many Ways to Fall” — sport titles that point toward the Arc Angels being a Vaughan-like comet rather than a future veteran group. Sexton’s solo recording career had started as a teenager; Bramhall II and his father Doyle Bramhall were friends of Vaughan’s (the elder Bramhall even composing and co-composing tunes with the guitar giant). But the two frontmen who complemented each other so well nonetheless couldn’t blend their egos as easily. Arc Angels stands as testimony that a band needn’t have a long career to have a lasting legacy. (by Bill Meredith)
Doyle Bramhall II (guitar, vocals)
Chris Layton (drums)
Charlie Sexton (guitar, vocals)
Tommy Shannon (bass)
Ian McLagan (keyboards)
01. Living In A Dream (Bramhall II/Sexton) 4.53
02. Paradise Cafe (Sexton/Tonio K) 5.14
03. Sent By Angels (Bramhall II) 5.44
04. Sweet Nadine (Sexton/Tonio K) 4.31
05. Good Time (Bramhall II/Piazza) 4.47
06. See What Tomorrow Brings (Bramhall II) 6.27
07. Always Believed In You (Sexton/(Tonio K) 4.54
08. The Famous Jane (Sexton/Tonio K) 4.31
09. Spanish Moon (Bramhall II/Sexton/Layton) 5.48
10. Carry Me On (Doyle Bramhall II) 4.08
11. Shape I’m In (Bramhall II/Sexton/Benno) 4.07
12. Too Many Ways To Fall (Layton/Shannon/Sexton/Tonio K) 5.52
A screenshot from their website: