The Comsat Angels – Fiction

16 11 2015

fiction2015Edsel records have issued remastered and expanded versions of the first three albums from the influential Sheffield band The Comsat Angels.

The Comsats released their third album Fiction in 1982. The final album in the Polydor trilogy, its an underrated album. Opening with one of the bands most haunting songs, the post-apocalyptic After The Rain.

Zinger has a slight Talking Heads feel, and a strong, fluid bassline. Now I Know has always been one of my favourite tracks from Fiction. The simple arrangement is the songs strength.

“So she took a drink from the radio”

Ju Ju Money (which was considered for the bands debut album) was finally included on Fiction. This take is a much more confident and powerful version of the song originally recorded in 1980.

The tribal drums on the reflective More place the album firmly in it’s time – with the post-punk music of Wah!, Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Cure, whilst also fitting in with some of the pop sensibilities of established acts such as Peter Gabriel and his fourth album.

Pictures has not dated – ambient keyboard swirls wash under the hypnotic beat that accompanies one of Stephen Fellows most reflective and sombre lyrics.

“Tear out all the pages one by one
Put them in the fire”

The most powerful song on Fiction is Birdman – with the return of the Fellows guitar harmonics! This song must have sounded amazing live in the early 80s – the rhythm section of Bacon and Glaisher was world class. Birdman still sounds amazing, even after all these years.

According to the informative sleevenotes, Don’t Look Now was improvised in the studio. Some wonderful interplay between all the band members on this song, including some guitar parts that surely influenced an Irish stadium rock band a few years later. Cough.

The final track on the main album What Else!? has always reminded me of The Beatles. Its a great 60s infused pop song – and I mean that as a compliment, pop is not a dirty word in my house.

fiction

Remastering / extra tracks

The remastering on the main album is more noticeable on Fiction compared to the first two albums in the reissue series. There is a noticeable increase in volume and power in these tracks compared to the previous CD reissue.

The bonus disc has two great Comsats singles – opening with one of my favourites – (Do The) Empty House with its trademark harmonics. It’s History was released prior to Fiction, and has a killer chorus. How this song wasn’t a massive hit single, I’ll never know.

The rest of the second disc is made up of a mix of b sides and album out-takes plus a couple of live recordings and a Peel session from late 1981.

Fiction (Deluxe 2CD edition)

DISC ONE
1. After The Rain
2. Zinger
3. Now I Know
4. Not A Word
5. Ju Ju Money
6. More
7. Pictures
8. Birdman
9. Don’t Look Now
10. What Else!?

DISC TWO
Bonus tracks
1. (Do The) Empty House
2. Red Planet Revisited
3. It’s History
4. Private Party
5. For Your Information
6. After The Rain (Remix)
John Peel Session
7. Now I Know
8. Ju Ju Money
9. Our Secret
10. Goat Of The West

VINYL – 180 gram heavyweight black vinyl
1. After The Rain
2. Zinger
3. Now I Know
4. Not A Word
5. Ju Ju Money
6. More
7. Pictures
8. Birdman
9. Don’t Look Now
10. What Else!?

Buy the album

Buy Fiction Double CD from Amazon

Buy Fiction vinyl on Amazon

 

Also available…


Buy Waiting For A Miracle Double CD from Amazon

Buy Waiting For A Miracle vinyl on Amazon

Buy Sleep No More Double CD from Amazon

Buy Sleep No More vinyl on Amazon

 

Buy Chasing Shadows / Fire On The Moon Double CD on Amazon

Buy Chasing Shadows vinyl on Amazon

Buy Fire On The Moon vinyl on Amazon

Visit The Comsat Angels – Sleep No More website

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The Comsat Angels – Sleep No More

15 11 2015

sleepnomore2015Edsel records have issued remastered and expanded versions of the first three albums from the influential Sheffield band The Comsat Angels. The bands second album, Sleep No More, is a much darker album than their debut from the previous year. The guitar is more prominent, and the songs have a real feel of urgency.

It may not have sold as many albums as those by The Cure or Siouxsie & The Banshees from the same era but Sleep No More is easily as rewarding as Pornography and Ju Ju.

The Eye Dance opens up the album at pace, and the urgency remains with the hypnotic layered guitars and insistent drums of the title track.

“It’s late but there’s no tiredness
I can see the city glow
And I’m sure there must be somewhere
We can go”

Be Brave has a wonderful bass line from Kevin Bacon and the lyrics display a nagging paranoia that continues into the next track, the powerful Gone.

Dark Parade is the most intense track on the album, with lyrics that chronicle the loss of life in a late 70s failed US hostage rescue attempt.

Restless passed me by on first release, but is a firm favourite now. It’s mechanical rhythm works really well with the treated guitar and deep bass notes.

After the frenetic Goat Of The West, the album slows down for its final two tracks. Light Years is the albums final dark moment of the main album, containing some of the finest guitar parts from Stephen Fellows on Sleep No More.

sleep

The band saved the best for last with one of my favourite songs of all time, the beautiful and uplifting Our Secret. The track is well sequenced as it gives a hint at the direction of the next Comsats album, Fiction.

“We will never
We will never
We will never
Give it up”

The extra tracks on disc one are important songs in the Comsats canon. Eye Of The Lens seems to foretell the surveillance heavy society we live in today, and is one of the bands finest singles.

Another World has some wonderful atmospheric keyboard work from Andy Peake and more expansive percussion from Mik Glaisher, one of the best drummers to emerge during the post-Punk era. At Sea is a slow-burning piece that explodes into life towards the end of the song, and displays the band at their most experimental.

Remastering / extra tracks

As with Waiting For A Miracle, the noticeable remastering difference is on the bonus material. Tracks such as the EP version of Gone sound much brighter on this version of the CD.

The bonus material includes a handful of demos plus John Peel and Richard Skinner tracks from the era.

Sleep No More (Deluxe 2 CD edition)

DISC ONE
1. The Eye Dance
2. Sleep No More
3. Be Brave
4. Gone
5. Dark Parade
6. Diagram
7. Restless
8. Goat Of The West
9. Light Years
10. Our Secret
Bonus Tracks
11. Eye Of The Lens
12. Another World
13. At Sea

DISC TWO
1. Mass
2. Dark Parade 1 (Demo)
3. Goat Of The West (Demo)
4. Be Brave (Demo)
5. Gone (Alt. EP Version)
John Peel Session
6. Be Brave
7. At Sea
8. Eye Of The Lens
9. Dark Parade
Richard Skinner Show
10. Gone
11. Total War
12. Eye Dance
13. Be Brave

VINYL – 180 gram Heavyweight black vinyl
1. The Eye Dance
2. Sleep No More
3. Be Brave
4. Gone
5. Dark Parade
6. Diagram
7. Restless
8. Goat Of The West
9. Light Years
10. Our Secret

Buy the album

Buy Sleep No More Double CD from Amazon

Buy Sleep No More vinyl on Amazon

Also available…


Buy Waiting For A Miracle Double CD from Amazon

Buy Waiting For A Miracle vinyl on Amazon

Buy Fiction Double CD from Amazon

Buy Fiction vinyl on Amazon

Buy Chasing Shadows / Fire On The Moon Double CD on Amazon

Buy Chasing Shadows vinyl on Amazon

Buy Fire On The Moon vinyl on Amazon

Visit The Comsat Angels – Sleep No More website





The Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat Angels

29 09 2013

The Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat AngelsThe Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat Angels is not a history of the band, but a book focussing on what really matters – the bands music and songs.

The paper-back sized (note, this is not a “coffee-table” sized book) includes a 22 page introduction that has an exclusive q & a with band members Kevin Bacon (the band’s original bassist), singer / guitarist Stephen Fellows, drummer Mik Glaisher, keyboard player Andy Peake and later years bassist Terry Todd. The q & a provides a unique insight into the band’s chemistry, and sheds light for the first time on the band’s future.

Former live guitarist Nick Robinson also gives an insider’s view of the post Jive era of the band, and also shares some memories of the band as a fellow Sheffield musician.

The main bulk of the book is a discussion of the Comsat’s studio albums, discussing the song composition, individual playing style and performances of all band members and the lyrics, interspersed with quotes from Stephen Fellows.

The Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat Angels is a fascinating glimpse inside the bands music, which encourages you to listen to the albums again, so in that sense, it does it’s job.

Mark Kermode correctly states in his introduction that the book focusses on the music, not the cliched “life on the road” tales or discussions of band’s haircuts and fashion found in many rock tomes. So if you are looking for a more straight-foward rock biography, this is not it. But if you are already a fan of the band, then The Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat Angels does offer new insights, that you will not find elsewhere.

The Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat Angels is available in two formats – with a choice of colour pictures on white uncoated paper or black and white on cream uncoated paper – and has 162 pages with 24 photographs, 3 musical scores (Sleep No More, Gone, Shiva Descending), discography, gig list and a foreword by uber-fan and renowned film critic Mark Kermode.

“Written with all the devotion and attention that the Comsats require and deserve.”

Simon Armitage

Buy The Concise Musical Guide to the Comsat Angels from The Burning Shed store.

Buy Comsat Angels music

Sleep No More (MP3 album) from Amazon

Time Considered As a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones: the BBC Sessions 1979-1984 – from Amazon

My Minds Eye from Amazon

The Glamour from Amazon

To Before from Amazon





Hugh Cornwell – Totem & Taboo

18 08 2012

The follow-up to 2008’s Hooverdam is a continuation of Cornwell’s recent back-to-basics approach.  Where the production on Hooverdam (by Liam Watson) harked back to the 60s, I felt that the production on the vocals let the songs down.  Hugh recorded his latest album in Chicago late last year, with Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey) behind the desk.  The result is Hugh’s best sounding album to date, and surely up there with Nosferatu and Guilty as one of his finest albums.

A lot of credit must go to Albini for capturing the rich vocals and dirty, raw guitar from one of the class of 77’s finest performers. The Totem & Taboo title track is driven by powerful  drums and a guitar line reminiscent of early Bowie ala Rebel Rebel.

The albums second track, The Face, is about attending a party in honour of the material girl.  The pace picks up with I Want One Of Those, a real new wave thrasher, with lyrics bemoaning the consumerism of society, and the constant upgrade, give me it now culture. Albini captures Hugh’s guitar sound perfectly, with a wonderful solo closing the song.

Stuck in Daily Mail Land has shades of The Jam / Kinks & The Who (check out the nods to Start / Taxman in the bassline and the Keith Moon freakout drums in the break). It’s so refreshing to hear an album where all the musicians are clearly playing live in a room, at the same time, without countless overdubs.

Hugh Cornwell April 2012. Photo Copyright Kevin Nixon.Bad Vibrations is a highlight of Hugh’s live set, and has a wonderful, dirty overdriven bass sound, and Nosferatu‘esque  / Wired discordant guitar / drums interplay after the chorus.  The guitar at the end of the song has a real early Skids feel to it. One of my favourite tracks on the album, I never tire of this song.

God is a Woman features some great interplay between the three musicians, and is the result of bringing well-rehearsed, road-tested songs into the studio environment.

“You know she made the birds and the bees,
You know she made the plants and the trees

I want to see you down on your knees
God is a woman.”

Love Me Slender could be a comment on our image-driven society, as well as obviously being a misappropriation of Presley’s Love Me Tender.

The album ends strongly, with a trio of the albums most powerful songs, all connected by the United States.  Gods Guns and Gays is driven by a wonderful guitar line reminiscent at times of his former band’s Always The Sun, and lyrically discusses the contradictions and obsessions of the Country. Timpanis underpin some sections of the song (possibly a wry nod to another acerbic USA lyric, Dead Loss Angeles and it’s symphony of lonely tympanis line?).

Street Called Carroll is a new wave firecracker and a love song to LA. There is something about this song that reminds me of The Lovin’ Spoonful‘s Summer In The City, and I love the “staying cool, staying cool…” refrain.

“He’ll be drawing in the chalk again,
They are telling me the dead can walk again.”

From the polluted, smog-filled inner-city jungle of LA, the album slips to a more mystical side of the USA with Totem & Taboo‘s closing track, the epic In The Dead of Night.  The sound of assorted wildlife and a real feel of the wide open spaces of the Mojave Desert usher in the track, with it’s walking bass and loping drums.  Cornwell delivers a Riders on the Storm for the 21st Century, with the most effortlessly cool song you will hear this year.

The 60s feel continues as a riff that references Peter Gunn underpins the solo in the middle of the song. I love how Cornwell & Albini resisted the temptation to over-complicate the arrangement.  It remains true to the live version premiered last year, and is a great finish to the album.

Buy the CD on Amazon

Visit the Hugh Cornwell website








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