80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Comsat Angels

comsatsbI held off on featuring this fabulous 80’s post-punk band because a reunion gig was in the works in Sheffield, UK for this past April. I belong to a Comsat Angels group on Yahoo and was interested to hear what the fans would report after having lived the dream of being there.

 Not a negative word from the entire group of fans who were wildly lucky enough to attend. Apparently, the Comsat Angels put on a superb show that was so well-received and successful, that the band has decided to do it again this coming October.

 A music blogging friend, Joey from Teatro Triste Del Clown just inquired about the Comsats, and I thought that now would be a good time to include them in my “Criminally Underrated” series.

 Hailing from Sheffield, the band formed in 1978 with original members Stephen Fellows (vocals, lead guitar), Kevin Bacon (bass), Mik Glaisher (drums), and Andy Peake (keyboards). Their debut EP was called “Red Planet” and was released in 1979. The Comsats were approached by Polydor and agreed to release three LPs under that label. They were Waiting For A Miracle, Sleep No More, and Fiction. Personally, it would be extremely difficult for me to recommend one album over the other, as I believe all three to be works of sheer genius.comsatsa

 The Comsats’ best-known single, “Independence Day,” is from the Waiting For A Miracle album. But there are so many other treasures from all three of their initial albums, the listener would do well to try to locate copies of them all. Additionally, the Comsats’ other 80’s LPs that followed, Land, 7-Day Weekend and Chasing Shadows, contain strong post-punk influenced songs with lyrics that are dark and brooding, deep and meaningful, and at the same time both hopeful and tinged with despair.

 The $65,000 question is always the same throughout the series of Criminally Underrated: Why didn’t this band make it in a huge way here in the States? The Comsat Angels were hurt by their name because some inane corporate suits decided the band’s name infringed on their precious copyrighted business moniker. As if a hugely talented post-punk band would negatively impact the bottom line of a communications conglomerate. Whatever.

 The Comsats tried a name-change first to C.S. Angels while touring in the US, then as Dream Command. Under the latter, they released another album in 1990 called Fire On The Moon. Unfortunately, the group was never able to gain any traction here in the states. Our huge loss, in my humble estimation.

 If you’ve never experienced the sheer genius of the Comsat Angels, there is never a better time than now to start. Some of their music is out of print and extremely expensive. If you can afford to, buy it. The 80’s would have been a much more hollow period musically without the vital and earnest music of The Comsat Angels. Three words: Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

 

“Independence Day” via YouTube user fery2:

“The Cutting Edge” via YouTube user videopreditor:

 “Will You Stay Tonight?” via YouTube user teawanga:

 “Eye Of The Lens” via YouTube user tadeuz30:

80’s Discography
Purchase Comsat Angels music here.
 

comsats1Waiting for a Miracle (1980, Polydor) (reissued in 1995 on RPM & in 2006 on Renascent)

 

 
comsats2Sleep No More (1981, Polydor) UK #51 (reissued in 1995 on RPM & in 2006 on Renascent)

 

 

 

comsats3Fiction (1982, Polydor) UK #94 (reissued in 1995 on RPM & in 2006 on Renascent)

 

 

 

 

comsats4Land (1983, Jive) (reissued on Connoisseur in 2001) UK #92

 

 

 

comsats57 Day Weekend (1985, Jive) (reissued on Connoisseur in 2001)

 

 

 

comsats6Chasing Shadows (1986, Island)

 

 

 

 

 

comsats7Fire on the Moon (as Dream Command) (1990, Island) (U.S. & Netherlands only)

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80’s Music Rules ~ More from Retrospect CFRC-FM ~ 05-26-09

cfrc-fm1

We’re so happy Ed-FM was back this week that we could hardly stand it! And, Ed himself seemed really glad to be back in the groove. He started off a sizzling hot set with Boys Brigade – “Saigon” and treated us to an ultra-rare find from his visit to Quebec City – David Bowie’s “Heroes” in English and French. Ed continued to entertain with his stash of rare finds from his recent trip – we were definitely the lucky ones to be on the receiving end. I just know there will be much more as time goes on and I can’t wait.

 Be sure to tune in to Ed and his “rock ‘til you drop” 80’s Retrospect show on CFRC-FM from 8 pm until 10 pm on Tuesday nights. Ed takes requests by phone: (613) 533-CFRC (2372) or email: retrospectcfrc at yahoo dot ca. Indulge yourself in some “80’s Music that doesn’t suck.” I guarantee die-hard 80’s New Wave/post-punk fans will not be disappointed.

CFRC-FM Playlist May 26, 2009

 Basement of Carruthers Hall in Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
ED-FM ~ Retrospect
80’s Music That Doesn’t Suck
If the “Listen Live” link on the CFRC Website doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your Windows Media Player: http://sunsite.queensu.ca:8000/
Join us in the Chat Room during the show – either click the link on the right menu under the Rave and Roll graphic, or here.

1.    Boys Brigade – Saigon
2.    The Extras – Hip Hop Hip Hip
3.    Josie Cotton – Johnny Are You Queer?
4.    Slow Children – Spring In Fialta
5.    Images In Vogue – In The House (12”)
6.    David Bowie – Heroes (English and French)
7.    Siouxsie and the Banshees – I Promise
8.    The Spoons – Nova Heart (12”)
9.    David Byrne – Big Business (12”)
10.  Cult Hero (Robert Smith) – I’m A Cult Hero
11.  The Stranglers – No Mercy
12.  Armoury Show – Castles In Spain (12”) J
13.  Yello – Of Course I’m Lying (The Truth Is) (12”)
14.  Eva Everything – No Pleasure (extended mix)
15.  West India Company – Ave Maria
16.  Rational Youth – Cite Phosphore (razormaid mix)
17.  Comsat Angels – Mr. Memory
18.  Chameleons – Up The Down Escalator
19.  Martha and the Muffins – By The Waters Of Babylon

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Payola$

payolasThe Payola$ stormed the Canadian music scene from the west coast hotbed of Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded by Paul Hyde (vocals) and Bob Rock (guitars), the duo became friends in high school and shared a passion for punk rock. They hooked up with drummer Taylor Nelson and sax/bass player Gary Middleclass to record their first single “China Boys” released in 1979.

 A&M records courted the Payola$ based on their local popularity, and offered them a chance to record a 4-song EP. This collection was released as Introducing Payola$ and inlcuded a rerecorded version of “China Boys,” along with “Jukebox,” “Rose,” and “T.N.T.”

 As is the case with many bands, Payola$ went through several line-up changes during the 80’s, with the core members Rock and Hyde as the common denominator. The band’s first full-length LP was produced by Mick Ronson. Titled No Stranger To Danger, the band used its punk roots in combination with reggae, pop, and New Wave to create a fantastic playlist, earning them a Juno and a hit with the single “Eyes of a Stranger.”

 Payola$ and Ronson teamed up again in 1983 to release a well-received album called Hammer On A Drum. The band received well-deserved accolades for this sophomore effort, with four songs released as singles: “Where Is This Love,” “I’ll Find Another,” “Never Said I Loved You” (feat. Carole Pope of Rough Trade), and “Christmas Is Coming.” With such outstanding talent and proof of their capabilities, the band remained wildly popular in Canada, yet relatively unknown in the US.

 Part of the problem, the story goes, was the name the band had chosen. The “Payola Scandals” in the US music industry during the 60’s was still fresh in the minds of both the musicians it hurt, and the people prosecuted because of it. Another fantastic band, The Comsat Angels from Sheffield, UK, took a major hit here in the states, again because of an unlucky choice of name. That many of us here were denied great music over such a trivial matter really irritates me beyond words.payolasa

 In 1985, the band decided to re-brand itself as Paul Hyde and the Payolas. They released an album called Here’s The World For Ya, again spawning four solid singles, one of which, “You’re the Only Love,” managed to break into the US top 100.

 The band tried one more renaming as Rock and Hyde. Using this moniker, Under the Volcano came to light which proved a great success once again, in Canada. Two hit singles were the result of this effort with one, “Dirty Water,” charting in the US. That is my personal favorite. It is a beautifully sung and orchestrated tune that is somewhat anthem-like and haunting all at the same time. David Marsden plays it occasionally on his show and it really rocks my world.

 If you’re not familiar with Payola$, it is well worth the time to look into their brilliant yet criminally underrated music career starting with their punk roots in the late 70’s and throughout all of the 80’s. Redefining and renaming, they struggled hard while attempting to break into the elusive US market. Their loss in not attaining this goal was an even bigger loss for the US.

 “China Boys” via YouTube user justmefilm:

 “Eyes of a Stranger” via YouTube user ValorOfSoul:

 “Where Is This Love” via YouTube user kurdtss:

 “Dirty Water” by Rock & Hyde via YouTube user kurdtss:

 Discography

 Purchase Payola$ and Rock & Hyde here and here.

Payolas1Introducing Payola$, (four-song EP), Payolas, A&M , 1980

 

 

 

Payolas2In a Place Like This,
 Payolas, A&M, 1981

 
 

 

 
payolas3No Stranger To Danger
, Payolas, A&M, 1982

 

 

 

 

 

Payolas4Hammer on a Drum, Payolas, A&M, 1983

 

 

 

Payolas5Here’s the World for Ya
, Paul Hyde and the Payolas, A&M, 1985

 

 

 

payolas6Under the Volcano
, Rock and Hyde, Capitol/EMI, 1987

 
 

 

 

 


Payolas7Langford Part One
, (seven-song EP), Payolas, EMI, July 17, 2007

80’s Music Rules ~ Devastating Illness ~ Churg Strauss Syndrome

PA260167I’m going to depart from my normal posting pattern and take the time to discuss something very personal and very disturbing that casts a shadow on my life each and every day.

 My better half suffers from a little-known affliction called Churg Strauss Syndrome (CSS). Over the past few years, I have helplessly watched this once vital and energetic man become slowed down, beaten down, and hollowed out by this awful and misunderstood disease.

 It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

 CSS is one of about 14 forms of Vasculitis disease. Other related conditions you may have heard of are Wegener’s, Behcet’s, and Kawasaki (what John Travolta’s late son suffered from). It’s an autoimmune disorder that affects the arteries and major organs. The symptoms are many, diverse, and difficult to pin down as actually being a part of CSS.

 Hubby started out with what was thought to be a strange combination of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, the onset of which occurred during middle-age. Other odd symptoms cropped up over time: weird little bumps that would come and go just beneath the surface of the skin, chronic sinusitis, low-grade fever, joint swelling, transient pain, high eosinophil count, frightening nodes that would show up on lung x-rays then quickly disappear. Each symptom would require a new drug, a new specialist, and a longer journey down a darkened road with no end in sight. Finally, in December 2005, hePA250095 suffered a heart attack.

 Shortly after, a very astute physician began to “connect the dots” and four years ago, hubby was given a diagnosis that would change both of our lives; the cause of all of his unusual and seemingly disjointed symptoms had a name. That was the good news of the “good news, bad news” epiphany we experienced. The bad news was, he was already in stage three and there was no cure.

 Music has always brought me solace, quieted my fears, eased my pain, and given me escape from a life that is sometimes downright cruel and difficult to deal with. Over the past several years, music, and the friends I have made as a result of my passion and love for it, have made dealing with my best friend’s, my companion’s, my soul-mate’s affliction just a tad easier. It is because of you that I’m not paralyzed with fear as each new day dawns; I can be strong, and in so doing, help my husband stare down a vicious and pernicious enemy. I can’t thank you (and you all know who you are) enough.

 These are just some of the songs that have seen me through. For my husband, my friends, and the music, I am eternally grateful.

 “Primitive Painters” by Felt via YouTube user mrbriefcasetv2:

 “Dark” by Gary Numan via YouTube user PatrickIngham21:

 “Soul In Isolation” by the Chameleons via YouTube user LeftHandOfDarkness:

 “This Big Hush” by Shriekback via YouTube user 1prosszto1:

 “Linoleum” by Tweaker (feat. David Sylvian) via YouTube user tonyreyes:

 “Ocean Rain” by Echo and the Bunnymen via YouTube user DrCheese01:

 “Violet Light” by Raised By Swans via YouTube user cloudtifa:

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Stranglers

stranglers1

[Author’s note: I received the following information in the comments section and am including it here to set the record straight:

A little addition to your comments friend. Although I totally support your agreeable liking for the Stranglers, I must correct some facts. The Stranglers started in the  Seventies and their first ‘hit’ was No More Heroes, which came out in 1977. I saw them several times because to me they were the best band ever and when my daughter grew up, we used to see them together, until they split, which was a great pity. I strongly recommend No More Heroes. All the tracks there are just brilliant, full of anger and straight to the point, especially School Mam.

Greetings from London town, Nigel

Comment by Nigel de Vere | April 12, 2010 <!– @ 11:01 am –>|  ]

 The Stranglers began life in the 1970’s as a punk-era group called The Guildford Stranglers. Interestingly enough, none of the original band members were from Guildford, UK. At that time, bands/artists such as The Clash, Patti Smith, and the Ramones were busy storming the world with angry, thrashing post-psychedelic rock which eventually became widely known as “punk.” The Guildford Stranglers, although they supported that genre of musicians on tour as the opening act, considered themselves somewhat punk, but with a little bit more “je ne sais quoi” thrown into the mix.Stranglers 2

 It was this unique evolution that propelled them into the eclectic 80’s, and that has endeared me to The Stranglers (who eventually dropped the “Guildford” from their names) as a top-notch post-punk band. The original band was made up of Jet Black (Brian John Duffy, drums), Jean-Jacques Burnel (bass guitar, lead vocals), Dave Greenfield (keyboards, vocals), and Hugh Cornwell (guitars, lead vocals). Their first hit, “Golden Brown,” from their 1981 effort La Folie brought the Stranglers into the limelight and a chart position at #2 in the UK.

 My favorite Stranglers album is Aural Sculpture released in 1984. Another of their best-known releases, “Skin Deep,” is on this outstanding LP. Cornwell left the band in 1990 to pursue a solo career. The Stranglers continues on today, consisting of founding members Black, Burnel, and Greenfield, along with Baz Warne (guitar, lead vocals).

 Truly an outstanding and integral part of the 80’s post-punk scene, The Stranglers successfully morphed from somewhat-punk to conceptual, post-punk and beyond. Avail yourself of this fine band’s 80’s offerings if you consider yourself a serious 80’s connoisseur.

 “Golden Brown” via YouTube user clydelove:

 “Always The Sun” via YouTube user DELTATURBO:

 “Skin Deep” via YouTube user thewormster:

 “No More Heroes” via YouTube user giohiro:

Discography:
(Note: I’ve only included the 1980’s releases)
Purchase The Stranglers Here

stranglers - meninblackThe Gospel According to The Meninblack (1981)

  

  

stranglers - la folieLa Folie (1981)

 

 

stranglers - felineFeline (1983)

 

 

strnaglers aural sculptureAural Sculpture (1984)

 

 

 

stranglers - dreamtime
Dreamtime (1986)

 

 
stranglers - 10 10 (1990) 

80’s Music Rules ~ More from Retrospect CFRC-FM ~ 05-12-09

cfrc-fm1

The chat room was humming last night. Ed-FM kept us guessing and rocking during the entire set. The mix of The Damned’s “Alone Again Or” was sensational, as was The Clash’s “Bank Robber” and the closing song dedicated to Sheila from the chat room, Strange Advance’s “Worlds Away.” 

Ed will be on a well-deserved break next Tuesday. Join us in two weeks (May 26) for the best that obscure 80’s has to offer. Wander into the chat room and join the discussion, whether it be about music, food, sports…or just “whatever.” 

Be sure to tune in to Ed and his “dance-in-your-chair” 80’s Retrospect show on CFRC-FM from 8 pm until 10 pm on Tuesday nights. Ed takes requests by phone: (613) 533-CFRC (2372) or email: retrospectcfrc at yahoo dot ca. Indulge yourself in some “80’s Music that doesn’t suck.” I guarantee die-hard 80’s New Wave/post-punk fans will not be disappointed. 

CFRC-FM Playlist May 12, 2009
Basement of Carruthers Hall in Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
ED-FM ~ Retrospect
80’s Music That Doesn’t Suck

If the “Listen Live” link on the CFRC Website doesn’t work, copy and paste this URL into your Windows Media Player: http://sunsite.queensu.ca:8000/
Join us in the Chat Room during the show – either click the link on the right menu under the Rave and Roll graphic, or here

  1. Chalk Circle – April Fool
  2. Danielle Dax – The Shamenen
  3. Men Without Hats – Security
  4. Gary Numan – I Can’t Stop (10” single)
  5. Stranglers – No Mercy
  6. Dominatrix – Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight
  7. The Promise – Glass House (extended)
  8. Rational Youth – I Want To See The Light
  9.  Torch Song – Mothdoom Ecstasy
  10. Seona Dancing – Tell Her
  11. Ege Bam Yasi – Circumstance
  12. The Box – Dancing On The Grave
  13. Crown Of Thorns – Diamond  Jim
  14.  Yellow Magic Orchestra – Technopolis
  15. The Damned – Alone Again Or (mixed Again)
  16. The Clash – Bank Robber (Robber Dub mix)
  17. Screaming Bamboo – World Of Tomorrow
  18. Vis A Vis – I Am The Night
  19. Data Bank – Etiquette Of Travel
  20. Elton Motello – Jet Boy Jet Girl
  21. Strange Advance – Worlds Away

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Men Without Hats

MWH1By now, it should be apparent that I have an affinity for synthesizer-driven 80’s music. In fact, there is very little of 80’s synth-pop, New Wave, avant-garde that I don’t like.

I also happen to have a healthy admiration for much of the music that evolved out of Canada during that time. Men Without Hats is no exception. Widely known for their heavily-rotated MTV hit “Safety Dance” featuring the rich baritone voice of Ivan Doroschuk and a very-80’s catchy dance-beat, the band endured through the 80’s with several line-up changes.

The founding duo, Doroschuk and brother Stefan formed the stable nucleus starting with the band’s first release Folk of the 80’s in 1980, while a host of other musicians wandered in and out over the span of about 11 years. Two one-time members went on to find fame in their own bands; Jean-Marc Pisapia as front-man for the widely popular Montreal-based band called The Box, and Terry Howe who went on to form Canada’s own Rational Youth.men+without+hats

“Safety Dance” broke the band in a huge, international way, coming from the album Rhythm of Youth released in 1982. They managed another international hit with “Pop Goes The World” from the album of the same name in 1987. Another LP, The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century, hit the bins in 1987. The band decided to drop the synthesizers for a more guitar-driven sound and released an album called Sideways in 1991. Unfortunately, that effort never gained any traction and the band broke up shortly after.

Their two international hits aside, Men Without Hats had so much more potential that was not fully recognized. A personal favorite, “Antarctica,” from the Rhythm of Youth LP blends the urgent post-punk vocals with the new Wave Dance beats flawlessly. The frenetically-paced “Ideas For Walls” from the same album is a masterpiece of 80’s composition. In fact, the entire album stands on its own as a perfect showcase for the true talents of this brilliant band, leaving its listeners aching to hear more.

Unfortunately, it was not to be, which is why in my estimation, Men Without Hats has earned its spot along with so many other Criminally Underrated 80’s artists and bands.

“Safety Dance” via YouTube user taze:

“Pop Goes the World” via YouTube user Standard999999:

“Antartica” via YouTube user kkkkkklf:

Discography

Purchase Men Without Hats Here

MWH - Fot80sFolk of the 80’s (1980) EP – Canada only

 

 

 

mwh-royRhythm of Youth (1982)

Folk of the 80’s (Part III) (1984)

 

 

mwh - freewaysFreeways (1985) – Canada only

 

 

 

 

 

MWH - PGTWPop Goes The World (1987)

 

 

 

MWH-AdventuresThe Adventures Of Men and Women Without Hate in the 21st Century (1989)

 

 

 

MWH-SidewaysSideways (1991) – Canada  only

 

 

 

 

 

mwh - no hatsNo Hats Beyond This Point (1993)