Comsat Angels – My Minds Eye / The Glamour

The career of the Sheffield-based band The Comsat Angels can be roughly divied in a few periods. In the late 70’s / early 80’s they started with an edgy post-punk style on three acclaimed albums: Waiting for a MiracleSleep No More and Fiction. These have been reissued by Renascent earlier this year. Then a more poppy period followed, in which the group (under pressure from record companies) tried to achieve more commercial succes. But singles like ‘Day One’, ‘I’m Falling’ and ‘You Move Me’ were only modest successes. Sort of a transitional album wasChasing Shadows, on which the group went back more to their roots.

In their third phase, The Comsat Angels became more of a rock band with a heavier guitar sound. This lead to the solid albums My Minds Eye(1992) and The Glamour (1995). Perhaps they didn’t really get the attention they deserved at the time. They are being reissued now by Renascent in the well-known form: in slim cardboard gatefold sleeves, with some liner notes and photographs, and most importantly, with heaps of bonus material.

My Minds Eye
My Minds Eye (of which frontman Stephen Fellows claims it’s his favourite Comsat album) comes with 6 extra tracks, including B-sides and alternate versions. Also the tracklisting is a bit shuffled. As I said before, this album shows a heavier guitar sound than much of their preceding work. This doesn’t always appeal to me that much. Of some songs I prefer the acoustic versions which I know of the Dutch-only releaseUnravelled.
Luckily there is still plenty of room on My Minds Eye for the fine melodies and passionate vocals of Fellows that form much of the attraction of the band. Some standout tracks are ‘Always Near’, ‘Beautiful Monster’ and ‘Field of Tall Flowers’. Of the bonus material I’m mostly happy with the groovy rock song ‘There is no Enemy’ and the acoustic mix of ‘Field of Tall Flowers’.

The Glamour
For The Glamour there was so much possible bonus material, that the reissue turned in to a double cd, with 8 previously unreleased recordings. According to Fellows, the album is now closer to what it should have been, without the pressure of deadlines. During these recordings, the Comsat Angels had a five-piece new line-up, with new members Simon Anderson (guitar) & Terry Todd (bass). In the same year as this album came out (1995), the group disbanded.
The Glamour certainly is a decent album with quite some fresh energy, though it sounds a little less focused than My Minds Eye. Stylewise there seem to be some psychedelic elements, which become for instance clear in the manipulated guitar and vocal style of opener ‘I Hear A New World’, and even some grunge influences, which was then very fashionable. Also the sound seems to be less stark and minimal, with a fuller production. Much of the material is quite pleasant, but seems to lack a clear identity. Of course there are also some gems to be found, like the ethereal ‘Sailor’ and the catchy ‘Audrey in Denim’ on disc 1 and the nice clear melody and vocals of ‘SS100X’ and the driving rock piece ‘Web of Sound’ on Disc 2.
The Glamour is not my favourite Comsat Angels album, but it still beats the best works of many other (more succesful) acts.

artist: Comsat Angels, The
label: Renascent
details: cd, 16 tracks, 2006 [REN CD 19] | 2cd, 20 tracks, 2006 [REN CD 20]