Friday, September 9, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 20)

I almost skipped the Comsat Angels because I don't have much of a history with them. After seeing the music video, and not too long after it was released in 1984, I bought the 12" single of "Independence Day." It seemed new wave, and I was one of the last holdouts trying to hang on that sound, but I never dug any deeper than that one song for decades. In fact, their name never even came up with me again until I started the blog. Our pal Echorich had mentioned them a few times here and at other familiar reading spots, and I raised my brow four years ago when he made a comment about the Comsat Angels after I wrote about the Sound. Sure, they were a dark-wave band, but I didn't get his post-punk reference at all. Of course, I wouldn't have since all I knew was the rerecorded version of "Independence Day" from 1984. For all I knew, that was their first song, or at least an early one. I was not far off.

When Demon Records reissued the catalog of the Comsat Angels on vinyl last year, I decided to bite. I got the first two albums, 'Waiting for a Miracle' and 'Sleep No More,' from 1980 and 1981, respectively. It only took one spin to realize where Echorich had been coming from all those years ago, and I kicked myself for not investigating 30 years earlier. I also quickly learned the version of "Independence Day" found on the debut album was superior to the one I had all of this time, even if the charts told a different story. (Let's be honest, though. Neither version was a hit.) This might be as far as I go with the Comsat Angels, but I'm so pleased Echorich, king of the comments, made me give the band another look.

"Independence Day" (from the 1980 album 'Waiting for a Miracle')
"Independence Day" (from the 1984 12" single "Independence Day")


TheRobster said...

"Echorich - king of the comments." Ha! I doubt you'll find many who will argue with that statement!

Echorich said...

Echorich - loudmouth and opinionated New Yorker is probably more like it. In NYC, I'm lucky if I can attain 'Prince Among Many' status and on Sunday, I will prove that point for four days of voice destroying, nonstop fun with friends and family.

Now as for Comsat Angels, I doubt that any other band that I discovered because their debut album cover really caught my eye, other than Echo And The Bunnymen's Crocodiles, blossomed into a career long devotion. The Comsat's tried to really stick to a sound that they perfected from the start, but the music business wouldn't play along and they were pulled and stretched in many different directions after leaving Polydor. The Zomba/Jive albums, Land and 7 Days Weekend have the bones of Comsat Angel's sound, but it's over produced by Mike Howlett, Chris Tsangarides and oddly James Mtume who guided Stephanie Mills and Phyllis Hyman's careers.
They are a perfect example of a band with great intentions being boxed and packaged out of their comfort zone. The fact that they managed to find their way back with Chasing Shadows in 87, thanks to having a fan in Robert Palmer, and then again in mid 90s with My MInds Eye and The Glamour, showed that they hadn't lost their focus totally and found their voice again.
One final note, both Comsat Angels and The Bunnymen have one last thing in common for me - an album I can't get my head around. For the Bunnymen it's the Mac-less Reverberation and for Comsat Angels it's Fire On The Moon which even the band stepped away from and released as Dream Command - it didn't help that Island were so afraid of releasing more music as Comsat Angels because of a potential lawsuit from Communication Satellite Corporation (Com-Sat Corp), but this was an album of very average FM Radio Rock that really doesn't have much to do with the Comsat's sound.

Swiss Adam said...

I am friend of friends with Steve, Comsat Angels guitarist. Playing records at my friends 45th birthday party, as Steve walked in I out Independence day on. He turned around and walked out. Oops.

Brian said...

Now that's a smile, Adam. I'm sure it wasn't at the time.

As always, than you Echorich.

Robster, He's the man, and we are all lucky he reads our blogs!