The Comsat Angels - Biography

The Comsat Angels
The Comsat Angels formed in 1978 in Sheffield, England, playing a harsh but melodic post-punk sound, featuring slashing guitars alongside icy keyboards. Throug most of their career they maintained a stable line-up of Steve Fellows (guitar and vocals), Kevin Bacon (bass guitar - not the Hollywood actor!), Andy Peake (keyboards) and Mic Glaisher (drums). In the autumn of their career, Kevin Bacon left the band and was replaced with Terry Todd on bass and Simon Anderson on guitars.

A debut self-financed single, Red Planet, was released in 1979, and this led to a contract with Polydor Records. Their debut Polydor single, Independence Day, arrived in 1980 and, though it didn't chart, its sparse, urgent tone helped it become a minor classic. This was closely followed by a debut album, Waiting For A Miracle, which received good reviews but didn't sell well. Nonetheless, the label kept faith with the band, and in 1981 they delivered a fierce, uncompromising sophomore LP, Sleep No More. This second album is widely regarded as a masterpiece that had a major influence on bands such as U2 (who toured with the band) and latterly Editors and Interpol. The album was reissued on CD twice, in 1995 by RPM Records and in 2006 by Renaiscent, with different track listings (see below). Sleep No More produced no singles, but it had the highest UK chart ranking for any Comsat album, peaking at #51. A third album, Fiction, followed in 1982, and this featured a more commercial sound, but it only clipped the UK top 100. It would become the band's final Polydor LP.

Nonetheless, the band signed a contract with Jive, which had released pop hits by Tight Fit and A Flock Of Seagulls. Jive promised to promote the band more actively than Polydor, but they required the band to tone down their trademark sound, and use synthesisers and electronic drums prominently in the mix. Their first Jive single, Will You Stay Tonight, was a lively, commercial affair, and achieved significant radio airplay. Yet it couldn't make the Top 40, and their first Jive album, a polished affair entitled Land, sold no better than the Polydor albums. Almost as an act of desperation, a re-recorded version of Independence Day was released as a single in 1984, but again the band's luck was out. They remained on Jive for one more album, 1985's 7 Day Weekend, but relationships between band and label were faltering, and they left the label soon afterwards.

Then a strange twist occurred - the band learned they had a surprise celebrity fan in smooth AOR singer Robert Palmer. Furthermore, Palmer used his influence at his label Island Records, to get them a deal for a new album. And so, their sixth album, Chasing Shadows, appeared on Island in 1987, though it was neither a critical or commercial success. Meanwhile, the band's streak of bad luck was continuing - they ended up being sued by an American company who manufactured satellites. By coincidence, they had marketed a model called the Comsat Angel, and owned a copyright on the name. As a result, the band had to rename themselves The CS Angels for the US market.

As it happened, they decided to change their name anyway to Dream Command, after Kevin Bacon left. This three-piece line-up released one album, Fire On The Moon, in 1990, to little acclaim. Yet Bacon returned in 1992, and the band reverted to their original name. Signing independent deals, the rejuvenated band released two bracing albums, My Mind's Eye (1992) and The Glamour (1995) (both made with Terry Todd on bass and Simon Anderson on guitars) before finally splitting up.

Ironically, two of the band members have had more tangible success since the band broke up for good. Steve Fellows managed blues-rock group Gomez, and his stewardship helped them win a Mercury Music Prize for their debut album. Meanwhile, Kevin Bacon is now one-half of production duo Bacon & Quarmby, whose credits include Ian Brown and Finlay Quaye. Bacon & Quarmby also have a lucrative sideline in producing music for television commercials. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.