The Comsat Angels – Chasing Shadows / Fire On The Moon

17 11 2015

chasingshadows2015Edsel records have issued remastered and expanded versions of the first three albums from the influential Sheffield band The Comsat Angels.

The fourth set in the reissue campaign is the long out-of-print Chasing Shadows coupled with the virtually never in print Fire On The Moon.

Chasing Shadows was released on Island Records in 1986, and I own up to the fact that its an album I’m very fond of. I’ve always thought it contains some of Stephen Fellows best vocal performances (I would imagine the setting of Compass Point Studios had something to do with that). The music, although a world away (pun intended) from their first three albums, still carries plenty of (restrained) power.

Album opener The Thought That Counts sets the scene for the album, with stabbing keyboard sequences and arena-rock friendly guitar and drums.

The album includes some of my favourite performances from keyboard player Andy Peake – especially on The Cutting Edge. And that bass / drum interplay!

Under The Influence sounds great on this remastered album – especially the mighty Mik Glaisher powerhouse drums. Carried Away is one of the great lost Comsats classics. Slow-burning and simply arranged, the emotion in the bands performance shines through.

You’ll Never Know features guest vocals from a champion of the band, Robert Palmer, who was also executive producer, and instrumental in getting the band signed to Island Records.

Lost Continent is one of the standout tracks on Chasing Shadows, and is followed by the most powerful track on the album Flying Dreams, which has many of the hallmarks of the bands early albums. I’ve always loved the breakdown “start to climb” instrumental section at the end.

The album ends with the moving Pray For Rain. The Comsats at their most vulnerable – just keyboards, vocals and bass.

“I met my match, but then the fire spread”

Andy Peake really shines on this performance. He is primarily known for his layered, atmospheric playing, but he can really tickle those ivories.

csarecording

The 2015 remaster includes The Cutting Edge single b side, Something’s Got To Give, a fine song and I’m glad its included on this release.

The second disc in this reissue set contains the complete Fire On The Moon, which was released in limited quantities in the USA and Holland in 1990, under the name Dream Command. I have to be honest and say its my least played and least liked Comsats release. There are only two tracks that I can recommend – Venus Hunter (with its Missing In Action inspired guitar ending) and the wonderful Mercury, that could have graced any Comsats album. The rest just don’t have that CSA magic and sound weary and tired.

Remastering / extra tracks

Of the four reissues, this is the album I was looking forward to hearing the most. The original Chasing Shadows CD always sounded too quiet. The 2015 remaster by Phil Kinrade at Alchemy Remastering adds a sparkle to the original album, and makes it a pleasure to rediscover in its new sonic glory.

The sleeve-notes are interesting, and the booklet includes the lyrics to the two albums, although unlike the previous three reissues in the series, the booklet is short on images from the era. But its all about the music – and although I’m not a fan of the second disc, Chasing Shadows does not disappoint and makes this reissue a must-have for Comsat Angels fans.

Chasing Shadows + Dream Command Fire On The Moon (Deluxe 2CD edition)

DISC ONE
The Comsat Angels Chasing Shadows
1. The Thought That Counts
2. The Cutting Edge
3. Under The Influence
4. Carried Away
5. You’ll Never Know
6. Lost Continent
7. Flying Dreams
8. Pray For Rain
Bonus track
9. Something’s Got To Give

DISC TWO
Dream Command Fire On The Moon
1. Celestine
2. Whirlwind
3. Sleepwalking
4. Reach For Me
5. Ice Sculpture
6. Venus Hunter
7. Phantom Power
8. Transport Of Delight
9. She’s Invisible
10. Mercury

Chasing Shadows 180 gram Heavyweight black vinyl
1. The Thought That Counts
2. The Cutting Edge
3. Under The Influence
4. Carried Away
5. You’ll Never Know
6. Lost Continent
7. Flying Dreams
8. Pray For Rain

Fire On The Moon 180 gram Heavyweight black vinyl
1. Celestine
2. Whirlwind
3. Sleepwalking
4. Reach For Me
5. Ice Sculpture
6. Venus Hunter
7. Phantom Power
8. Transport Of Delight
9. She’s Invisible
10. Mercury

Buy the album

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

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 Fiction Double CD from Amazon

Buy Fiction vinyl on Amazon

 

Visit The Comsat Angels – Sleep No More website

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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





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 Comsat Angels – Waiting For A Miracle

14 11 2015

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

The Comsat Angels are surely long overdue a reappraisal as on the of the most important UK post-punk bands. The first three albums are essential listening for anyone who has an interest in this era of UK music, and they should also appeal to fans of current bands such as The Editors, Interpol and early Bloc Party.

waitingforamiracle2015The Comsats released their debut Waiting For A Miracle in 1980. Hearing the eerie opening guitar wails as the rhythm picks up on opening track Missing In Action always sends be back to my teenage bedroom listening to the album on vinyl.

Later albums from the band do reflect the time in which they were recorded, but the first three Polydor albums are on the whole timeless, and if you heard them for the first time in 2015, you would still find yourself under their spell.

The influence of Pere Ubu and Captain Beefheart can clearly be heard in the instrumentation on Waiting For A Miracle. The distorted bass and emotive percussion drive second track Baby.

“I don’t want to be your “baby”
I don’t want to have to crawl for you”

Not a note is wasted on this stark song – the restraint in the performance is clear.

Independence Day is the bands most well known song. The harmonics are instantly recognisable to anyone who listened to late night radio in 1980. I’ve played this song hundreds of times over the years, and Independence Day still sounds as fresh now as it did when I first heard it 35 years ago.

A sci-fi / futuristic feel runs through the core of many of the albums songs, especially the title track. Its no coincidence that the band were named after a JG Ballard short-story.

Total War is a simple but powerful arrangement. The bass, drums and keyboards power the song, which is devoid of guitar until the end section. When the original line-up of the band reformed for a hometown gig in 2009, this song was a highlight of the set.

Monkey Pilot showcases the range of the bands powerful and inventive drummer, Mik Glaisher. The feeling of isolation is mirrored by the music in Real Story, its a standout performance by the four band members.

“Now he’s in unreal estate
Until he dies”

Postcard is the darkest song on the album. a slow-building performance with ride and tom driven percussion building the tension, as some wonderful guitar lines interplay with the vocals.

“I just thought you’d like to know”

Remastering / extra tracks

All the albums in this Edsel re-issue series have been remastered by Phil Kinrade. The remaster is subtle – the drums sound a little brighter, and the mix sounds wider and less cramped. It is more noticeable on the non-album tracks – for example the early Ju Ju Money take is a noticeable improvement on the previous CD.

The extra tracks include the Red Planet EP from 1979, a selection of demos and John Peel session tracks from 1979/1980. Edsel have taken care in the reissues presentation – including lyrics for the main album songs in the booklet and making sure all the CDs use colours from the album artwork.

The sleeve-notes from Tim Peacock (Record Collector) with input from the bands Stephen Fellows, throws light on the bands early history and the recording of the first album.

Waiting For A Miracle (Deluxe 2 CD edition)

DISC ONE
1. Missing In Action
2. Baby
3. Independence Day
4. Waiting For A Miracle
5. Total War
6. On The Beach
7. Monkey Pilot
8. Real Story
9. Map Of The World
10. Postcard
Bonus Tracks
11. Home Is The Range
12. We Were
13. Ju Ju Money
14. Work

DISC TWO
1. Red Planet
2. I Get Excited
3. Specimen No.2
4. Independence Day (Demo)
5. Real Story (Demo)
6. Target Talk (Demo)
7. Living In (Demo)
John Peel Sessions
8. Total War
9. Independence Day
10. Baby
11. JuJu Money
12. Real Story
13. Monkey Pilot
14. Waiting For A Miracle
15. Home Is The Range

VINYL – 180 gram Heavyweight black vinyl
1. Missing In Action
2. Baby
3. Independence Day
4. Waiting For A Miracle
5. Total War
6. On The Beach
7. Monkey Pilot
8. Real Story
9. Map Of The World
10. Postcard

Buy the album


Buy Waiting For A Miracle Double CD from Amazon

Buy Waiting For A Miracle vinyl on Amazon

Also available…

Buy Sleep No More Double CD from Amazon

Buy Sleep No More 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








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