The Comsat Angels were a marvellous post-punk outfit from Sheffield who were both immensely talented and criminally under-rated, perhaps more so than their contemporaries the Chameleons.
The Comsats started off life as Radio Earth in the late 70’s. The line-up has remained consistent throughout the group’s career with Stephen Fellows on vocals, Kevin Bacon on bass, Andy Peake on drums and Mik Glaisher on keyboards.
Word about the band began to spread after the band recorded a successful Peel Session in 1979 – on the back of their debut EP Red Planet. In the following months the Radio 1 DJ was inudated with requests for repeats of the performance.
The Peel session and a successful UK tour drew in major label interest in the form of Polydor. The Comsats signed with them in 1980 and released their debut album ‘Waiting For A Miracle’ later that year. The standout single ‘Independence Day’ managed to creep into the Uk Top 100. ‘WFAM’ did not chart at all.
Determined to prove themselves to their record label, the Comsats set about recording the follow-up to their debut. ‘Sleep No More’ was arguably their best recording to date but it made even less impact upon the public than its predecessor.
Unfortunately the band’s next 2 albums suffered a similiar fate, poor sales yet relatively positive reviews in the press.
The group were becoming desperate for fame and decided to gamble on taking a more commercial approach for their next album. The resulting LP ‘7 Day Weekend’ was a dire mess. Not only did it flop but it also got panned across the board. Enough was enough for the band and they put the Comsat Angels brand to rest for the time being whilst they experimented with other projects.
It wasn’t until 1992 that the Comsats decided to release their next properly marketed LP. ‘My Mind’s Eye’ was a return to form and a welcome breathe of fresh air at a time when grunge dominated the market. The success of ‘My Mind’s Eye’ funded the band’s 8th and final album ‘The Glamour’ in 1995.
What are they most famous for?
‘I’m Falling’ off the ‘7 Day Weekend’ was featured in the hit movie ‘Real Genius’. At the time the band were trading under the title of C.S Angels as they were facing a court injuction by the Communications Satellite Corporation (commonly abbreviated to ComSat) for supposed breach of copyright. This has led to much confusion over the years from people who enjoyed the song in the movie but could not track down the band because of the unscheduled name change!
The group’s most famous song ‘Independence Day’ is featured on a number of recent 80’s compilation tapes which has helped to increase interest in the band.
Why aren’t they famous?
This is a question which eludes most people to this day. There are several main theories. Firstly some would say that the Comsats were in the wrong place at the wrong time throughout their career. For instance their first two albums were released at a time when the popularity of post-punk gloom was on the decline.
Secondly there were quite a few bands at the time with a similiar sound to the Angels – who specialised in producing more commerical music. The group’s strength lay in producing records which were not ideal for radio.
Where to start
‘Waiting For A Miracle’ is the type of album to listen to in the dark after a bad night at the pub. For a post-punk album ‘WFAM’ covers quite a bit of ground from the bouncy ‘Monkey Pilot’ to the finely spun atmospherics of ‘Postcard’.
‘Sleep No More’ builds upon where the previous album let off, providing stronger material (namely the title track and Eye Dance) with improved production which in turn enhances the atmospherics on the record.