Tag Archives: U2

Favorites: The Comsat Angels “Sleep No More” (1981)

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The Comsat Angels are another example of a band who should’ve been U2-massive, but have instead been relegated to the footnotes of rock history.  Despite substantial critical acclaim, and even some record label finagling from unlikely supporter Robert Palmer, the band never had an album that broke into the UK chart’s top 50.  Their records have, with unfortunate consistency, gone out of print, making it even more challenging to achieve a reasonable level of posthumous success.

The Comsat Angels released their debut EP, “Red Planet”, in 1979, a record that culminated in a three-album contract with Polydor.  Joy Division was attracting quite a bit of attention at the time, and The Comsat Angels’ post-punk melancholia was clearly in the same sonic orbit.  Their debut LP, Waiting for a Miracle, was released in September of 1980 to trifling sales but near-unanimous critical plaudits.  It’s a fantastic debut that holds up very well against other classics released the same year (see: Joy Division’s Closer, The Sound’s Jeopardy, Magazine’s The Correct Use of Soap, and Echo and the Bunnymen’s Crocodiles).

As good as that record is, it’s still a step behind the follow-up, Sleep No More.  The sophomore album was released almost exactly a year after Waiting for a Miracle, and was met with an even more enthusiastic critical reception.  The record quickly sold out its’ initial pressing, but Polydor’s lagging shipment of additional copies seemed to severely hamper the album’s momentum.

Sleep No More is one of the most consistent batch of songs released in the 1980s, and the album’s rich sonic pallette continues to be influential to this day.  The opening trio of tracks (“Eye Dance”, “Sleep No More”, and “Be Brave”) are absolutely flawless; they are ominous, imposing, and completely enveloping songs.  It would be hard for any band to follow up such a strong opening, but the album never lets up in terms of quality, even when treading in some rather bleak emotional territory.  It doesn’t take one long to understand why this album has had such an impact on the few people who have taken the time to live inside this music.

The Comsat Angels will be re-uniting to play the Sensoria Music Festival on April 26th.

Chris

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New Music: U2 “No Line on the Horizon”

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U2 is currently streaming their new album, “No Line on the Horizon”, on MySpace.  I put aside my hatred of all things Bono long enough to give it a (relatively) open-minded listen last night.  While doing so, I wrote down my thoughts.  Now I’m posting those thoughts.  One, two, three, fourteen!  Here we blow!

 

“No Line on the Horizon”

Pretty awful lyrics, which is kind of a given at this point in Bono’s career.  Something about a girl being like the sea and her brain/boobs/vagina sounding like a seashell.  Or whatever.  There’s one part where The Edge totally cops Jonny Greenwood’s style, which is weird.  The Edge is one of the more distinctive guitarists in pop music, so I don’t see the reasoning behind that.  Not a terrible tune, but now that it’s over I’ve already forgotten what it sounded like. 

 

“Magnificent”

The intro sounds pretty great, and fortunately Bono dials down the histrionics just a bit.  You can imagine Eno shouting: “Pretend you’re just a cardinal instead of the friggin’ Pope!”  That is, if Brian Eno were from the Bronx.  This is actually one of the better U2 songs I’ve heard in a long time. 

 

“Moment of Surrender”

The intro sounds like Coldplay.  And then Bono’s “Rattle and Hum” B.B. King duet voice comes in.  Then it starts sounding like adult contemporary Christian rock.  “I was pushing in the numbers at the ATM machine / I could see in the reflection a face staring back at me.” Really?  Does Bono come up with his lyrics Lil’ Wayne style?  The Edge then phones in the laziest slide guitar solo of all time.  This goes on for over seven minutes (the song, not the solo), which seems like a good way to kill the album’s momentum.

 

“Unknown Caller”

Incredibly lethargic.  Like, who put Xanax in their wine?  I don’t know what to think about the group robot chant.  Nothing?  Ok…nothing.  And then there is another lazy guitar solo.  Overall pretty bland.

 

“I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”

At least this is a bit jauntier.  The lyrics are still pretty terrible.  I almost like the chorus, but the instrumentation sounds too “How to Dismantle” to me.  I’m hoping the title was written by Yogi Berra.

 

“Get on Your Boots”

Every man, woman, and child on the planet has been subjected to this already.  I think it sounds like DC Talk covering “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.  If DC Talk were retarded and Billy Joel’s first language wasn’t English.  The over-processed guitar sounds like a grunge band trying to go electronica, circa 1998.  Or U2, circa “Pop”.

 

“Stand Up Comedy”

I was almost hoping this was a skit.  Instead we get: “Come on ye(!?) people, stand up for your love!”  He kind of makes fun of himself with the line about being wary of a small man with big ideas.  Which would be sufficiently self-deprecating if I didn’t think Bono has been unintentionally making fun of himself for nearly 20 years.  The Fly is still buzzing around.

 

“FEZ-Being Born”

I thought it was PEZ at first.  But I guess there isn’t a PEZ, Morocco.  The high register keyboard is a little cheesy, but the rest of the song is actually not too bad.  If the album were more like “Magnificent” and this song, it might be fairly palatable.

 

“White as Snow”

A slow song with a subtle arrangement.  I guess it’s copping the melody of “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.  Why?  Because they’re fuckin’ U2 and if they want to redo a Christmas song on an album that comes out two months AFTER Christmas they will.  Not brilliant, but seems like it could be a grower.

 

“Breathe”

I’m not sure there needed to be another song in the world titled “Breathe”, but at least this isn’t U2 covering Prodigy.  Or Faith Hill.  Or U2 doing the Faith Hill song in a Prodigy style.  Wait…maybe that would be genius.  Starts out pretty strong.  I’m not sure about Bono’s beat poet first verse, but the chorus isn’t too bad.  I’m having a tough time deciding if the second half of the album is really this strong or it’s just in comparison to Side A.  I don’t know why, but I like the part when everything drops out and the cello comes back in like it just got off the “Magical Mystery Tour”.

 

“Cedars of Lebanon”

Another dialed-back song.  A much better album closer than “Yahweh”, which is like saying an orgasm is a better way to end sex than getting your dick chopped off. 

 

“Get On Your Boots” Live at the Brit Awards:

 

 

Chris