News & Politics

DC Has Its Own Sgt. Pepper. Why Haven’t You Heard Of It?

Original copies of the Fallen Angels's "It's a Long Way Down" can sell for more than $1,000.

Photograph of Fallen Angels courtesy of Doug McCullough/Fallen Angels

The band: Georgetown-based psych-rock quartet the Fallen Angels, who played local clubs like the Frog and opened for the Velvet Underground.

The album: It’s a Long Way Down, released in 1968. The 12-song set is a Day-Glo swirl of baroque jazz-rock, heavy fuzz guitar, and flower-power exotica. Never heard of it? “It’s among the most impossible-to-find major-label records,” says rare-music tastemaker Paul Major, who lists it as a key artifact in his 2017 book, Feel the Music.

The story: The Angels got signed to the hit-making label Roulette. Their poppier 1967 debut failed to chart, and the label couldn’t generate much excitement for the follow-up, either. “I don’t think they knew what to do with us,” says lead singer Jack Bryant.

The aftermath: The Angels disbanded in 1969. Today Bryant lives in Rockville and is retired from a truck-and-equipment rental company. His band will never get a Behind the Music, but it remains a real—if little-remembered—part of DC history. And the album? A 1994 CD reissue, titled Roulette Masters Pt. 2, is still available. Meanwhile, a near-mint original pressing is currently for sale online. Price: more than $1,000.

This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of Washingtonian.