Diving into the early 80s tonight with a concert featuring The Comsat Angels – live at the BBC’s Paris Theatre in 1983.
The Comsat Angels were an English post-punk band from Sheffield England, initially active from 1978 to 1995. Their music has been described as “abstract pop songs with spare instrumentation, many of which were bleak and filled with some form of heartache”.They have been credited as being an influence to later post-punk revival bands such as Blacklist, Bell Hollow, Editors and Interpol. The Comsat Angels toured heavily in the UK and in western Europe, especially in the Netherlands. They also toured the United States twice. Their music has been extensively reissued and recompiled since 1995 by various record labels.
Named after the J. G. Ballard short story “The Comsat Angels”, the foursome’s original lineup (lasting from 1978 to 1992) consisted of Stephen Fellows (vocals, guitar), Mik Glaisher (drums), Kevin Bacon (bass) and Andy Peake – (keyboards).
They debuted in 1979 with the “Red Planet” three-track single. This release attracted Polydor A&R man Frank Neilson and the band signed a three-album recording contract. These three albums – Waiting for a Miracle (1980), which included the single “Independence Day”, probably their best known song, Sleep No More (1981) and Fiction (1982) – are regarded by some as their best, but only sold modestly.
In their early years, the group shared live stages with bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Depeche Mode, U2 (an 18-date tour in 1981), Captain Beefheart, the Sound, Wall of Voodoo and Gang of Four. In 1982, they performed two songs on BBC Television’s the Old Grey Whistle Test. A U.S. tour in 1982 had to be cancelled after a week, due to Bacon contracting appendicitis.
The Comsat Angels’ albums had remained out of print for years, but RPM Records rereleased the first three Polydor albums on CD in 1995, while another British label, Renascent, reissued several of them in 2006 and 2007, adding outtakes and other tracks. Martin Gore of Depeche Mode covered “Gone” on his 1989 EP, Counterfeit. In 1992, Silkworm covered “Our Secret” as the B-side of their “The Chain” 7″ single. Joel RL Phelps, formerly of Silkworm, covered “Lost Continent” on his 1999 album Blackbird.
Jack Rabid, publisher of The Big Takeover magazine, has been one of the band’s biggest supporters since the early 1980s.
Kermode, a film critic for BBC Radio 5 Live, championed the Comsat Angels when reviewing the Ian Curtis biopic Control, stating that the Comsats were “the band that Joy Division should have been”.In May 2008, Kermode interviewed British poet Simon Armitage on BBC Two’s The Culture Show and the two discussed their love of the band. In his Film Review show on 2 May 2014, Kermode related that Fellows had sent him the remains of the guitar he used in the band’s first three albums, as he felt Kermode was one of the few people likely to appreciate it. Kermode had the guitar rebuilt into working order.
This concert comes during the time of the release of their fourth album, Land.
Crank it up and enjoy.