The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, Octoher 26, 2006 - 5B
New wings: Comsat Angels reissued for another generation
By LLOYD H. CARGO Chrome, Television, The Move and ing into the dark march of "Miss- Comsat Angels. Maybe Gang of pier hooks of Waiting For a Miracle,
Daily MusicEditor The Yardbirds, their acknowledged ing in Action." From the very first Four's politics were blunt enough, but gone is that sense of urgency.
influences, are never transparently chord the mood is set - this is not Joy Division's gloom direct enough, Fiction isn't the masterpiece either
What? You've never heard of the salient. going to be an optimistic affair. But and the Comsat's paranoia was just of the first two were, but it's by no
Comsat Angels? And you love Joy After finding their sound, the despite the darker subject material, all too real. means a slouch of an album, either.
Division? Oh my. Don't worry - it's band released the Red Planet EP the album is not without its poppier Either way, the band wasn't dis- Unfortunately, it was the last of
going to be OK. In the immortal on their own, which subsequently couragedbylacklustersales.Instead, their albums for Polydor, who sub-
words of Michael Jackson, "you are caught the attention of legendary it forged ahead with the magnificent sequently dropped them.
not alone." British DJ John Peel. An extremely No one's ever follow-up Sleep No More, blowing The band soldiered on, tinkering
The Comsat Angels was formed influential figure, Peel was able to any thoughts of a sophomore slump with their sound in an attempt to
in Sheffield, England in 1978, and get The Comsat Angels signed to heard of the outofthewater. Gonewerethemore sell more records. They were never
took its name from a J.G. Ballard a three-album deal at major label tentative moments of Waiting For a able to even come close, and even
short story. The four lads, lead gui- Polydor, then home to bands like Comsat Angels. Miracle, as well as some of its overt more sadly, they were never able to
tarist and vocalist Stephen Fellows, The Jam and Siouxsie & The Ban- pop aesthetic. This was even more capture any of the magic they had
keyboardist Andy Peake, bass- shees. But theyreback. naked, direct emotional sound. on those firstbthree albums.
ist Kevin Bacon (no, not him) and The first album, Waiting For a The first track, "Eye Dance," Long unavailable until RPM first '
drummer Mik Glaisher and their Miracle, would both be Comsat belies the sound of the album some- reissued them in 1995, Renascent
bleak post-punk stylings can prob- Angels's most astounding and their moments. "Independence Day" fea- what, promising faster, more lay- has done a great job finally present-
ably be traced back to a single gig commercial downfall. impossible tures some heavy tom-toms and the ered noise. Instead, Sleep No More is ing the albums the way they deserve
opening for Pere Ubu in Newcastle. to throw a label on, the band was band's signature guitar harmonics, characterized by a more dirge-like to be packaged. The UK reissue
The band was blown off the stage virtually ignored by the press and perfectly complementing the song's pace. Everything is slower, serving label has added bonus tracks to each
by Pere Ubu's intensity and focus. consequently consumers as well. urgent hook. Also of note is the bass only to make the drums more omi- of the Polydor albums, as well as
Fellows recalls in the liner notes to This wasn't punk, and it wasn't new line to "Baby." While I'm not accus- nous. And oh, those drums. Record- Time Considered as a Helix ofSemi-
WaitingFor a Miracle, "That gig was wave, either. It was edgy, tense. ing the King of Pop of stealing (he ed in an elevator shaft, with mics Precious Stones, their compilation of
a nightmare - it wasn't just a bad But most of all, it sounded para- probably never even heard of Com- positioned on six different floors, BBC live sessions. Available online
show - we realized that what we noid. And it had every right to be. sat), it does sound a whole lot like the percussion sounds like impend- at renascent.co.uk, these reissues
were doing was fundamentally bad In 1980, the United Kingdom was the bass line from "Billie Jean." ing doom. are pricey, but worth every penny.
- needlessly complex, pedestrian in the throes of Thatcherism and Perhaps the best amalgamation The album's subject matter is It's not often that great bands
and annoying at the same time ... We Northern English industrial towns of the band's complex aesthetic can more overtly political, with "Dark continue to fly under the radar 20
jammed for ages and tried to get rid like Sheffield were huddled under a be found on "Real Story." A simple Parade" about the hostage situation years after the fact. It's not hyper-
of any obvious influences just to see palpable umbrella of fear. The Sovi- double snare pattern, with Hank at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and bolic to say that no band had abetter
what we ended up with." et invasion of Afghanistan led to a Marvin-esque lead guitar - the "Goats of the West" throwing snide run from 1980 to 1982 or to rank the
What they came up with was nuclear scare and the Conservative song is a study in less-is-more. It's barbs amid swirling guitars and Comsat Angels near the top of the
brooding on par with Joy Divi- government went so far as to ban amazing that their sound, as influ- synthesizers. post-punk movement's most impor-
sion, only less overblown and dra- Irish Republicans from the radio or ential as it's been, never gave way to After the gloom of Sleep No More tant bands. It's not debatable that
matic. Their sound is harder to pin TV, forcing any public statements commercial success, or even acco- the band wisely decided to lighten they're criminally underrated and
down - think more melodic, sparse to be read by actors. Not to mention lades now. For a while, every review up a bit on their third album in three virtually ignored by most.
Wire, but realize there isn't anyone Reagan was about toube elected ... of Bloc Party or Interpol mentioned years, Fiction - attempting to be It's not your fault. You didn't
that really sounds like the Com- The album opens with what their debts to Joy Division or Gang darker would've been nearly impos- know. But now you do. So no excus- Cort-sy of aums om
sat Angels. Public Image Limited, soundslikeanairraidsquealclimax- of Four, with nary a nod to The sible. Present are some of the pop- es. OK? The Comsat Angels.
Monday night football now
just like Tuesday night
The truth of your love:
iTunes and play count
By MICHAEL PASSMAN
Daily Arts Writer
I have a problem. I watch NFL football. A lot
of NFL football. Pretty much all NFL football.
We're talking replays of last week's games on
NFL Network, NFL Films season in review
compilations from the '80s - I even tolerate
Michael Irvin and Chris "I'm with leather"
Berman and watch endless analysis on ESPN.
This is serious shit, people.
So when ABC relinquished the rights of
"Monday Night Football" to its.Disney cousin,
ESPN, after a 36-year run, I was a little upset.
Not because I like Al Michaels or because I
can't stand Joe Theismann, but because being
Football. Now on cable,
now on every night of
on national television made "Monday Night
Football" more than a game - it was an event.
And as much as ESPN would like you to think
it's the same old "Monday Night," it isn't and
never will be.
This past winter, while ESPN was trying
to convince everyone that Howard Cosell was
wearing a yellow ESPN blazer during the '70s,
NBC picked up the "Sunday Night Football"
franchise from ESPN, snatched John Madden
from ABC and traded the rights of Oswald the
Lucky Rabbit to Disney for Al Michaels. (Seri-
ously. The guy got traded for an animated rab-
bit.) And all of a sudden, "Sunday Night" turned
into the new "Monday Night," but not really.
With Michaels and Madden's move to NBC
and "Monday Night's" move to cable, the "Sun-
day Night" game became the NFL's premier
showcase. Michaels and Madden are big-game
football and their departure from "Monday
Night" is the crux of a changing of the guard in
Even though Madden is starting to lose it
- he's beginning to sound like his commentary
track from "Madden '96," and there might be
some weird "Weekend at Bernie's" thing going
on - but he's certainly serviceable. Michaels,
on the other hand, has been the voice of practi-
cally every major sporting event of the past 25
years and is as solid as ever.
Upon losing its all-star crew in the booth,
ESPN had some difficulty trying to replace two
of the industry's best. The respectable Mike
Tirico was brought in to do the play-by-play,
and so far he's done a respectable job. But Mike
Tirico's games don't have the aura of a Howard
Cosell game - the kind of aura that used to be
"Monday Night Football."
For the color commentary, ESPN brought
Joe Theismann over from the old "Sunday
Night Football" team. The move has been their
biggest mistake. Put it this way: Theismann's
greatest "Monday Night Football" moment
happened when Lawrence Taylor mangled his
leg in Giants Stadium. He's obvious, arrogant,
illogical and has no redeeming qualities what-
The third member of the new crew is Tony
Kornheiser. In an effort to capitalize on
ESPN's late-afternoon flagship "PTI," Korn-
heiser comes in as the comic relief that harkens
back to the Dennis Miller days, but in more of
an everyman role. He talks about his fantasy
team (which is getting a tad old), questions
Theismann's nonsensical observations and is
occasionally funny, but still doesn't seem to
feel entirely comfortable. ESPN has him beat-
ing the worthless humanistic storylines of
personal struggle to death, making him sound
like another useless sideline reporter and com-
pletely wasting his unique persona.
To be fair, ESPN did a commendable job
with its coverage of the New Orleans Saints'
return to the Superdome. They treated the
setting respectfully without turning it into a
typical Chris Connelly "SportsCenter" puff-
piece. There was no sugarcoating, they didn't
pretend that New Orleans was as good as new
and showed the impact that sports can have on
In a weird bid to add something to the Mon-
day night broadcast, or just make up for the
lack of chemistry between their normal broad-
cast crew, ESPN has been bringing guests
into the booth during the first half of each
game. Charles Barkley, Spike Lee and others
have frequented the booth in a gimmick that
will hopefully come to an end soon. If I want
to hear Barkley praise Tim Duncan and gloat
about the size of his flashy Vegas bankroll, I'll
watch "Inside the NBA," not "Monday Night
The one true benefit tocome out of the NFL's
network shuffle is the advent of flexible sched-
uling. From weeks 10-15 and 17 of the regular
season, NBC will have the option of selecting
the best matchup of the week and broadcast-
ing it on Sunday night. While CBS and FOX
Football commentator Al Michaels.
have the ability to protect a few games of their
choice, primetime football will finally have
meaningful matchups during the final weeks
of the season, something that couldn't always
be said before.
The x-factor here is the NFL Network and
its increasing presence. Owned bythe NFL, the
NFL Network is football junkie heaven. (The
journalistic issues surrounding a media outlet
owned by the league it's covering are troubling,
but that's another story - you wouldn't watch
FOX News if the Bush administrationwere run-
ning it, would you? Bad example.) And starting
on Thanksgiving Day, the NFL Network will
be broadcasting either Thursday or Saturday
night games live each week. The pompous Bry-
ant Gumbel will call the games - even after his
snarky bashing of the NFL earlier this summer
on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" -
and Chris Collinsworth will provide the color
Certainly NFL games on Thursday and Sat-
urday night football sound great, but all this
does is take away from the singularity that
once made "Monday Night Football" the event
it was. It worked because it was the only game
of the day that closed out the week. "Sunday
Night Football" was always secondary because
it was just one of many games on a crowded
Sunday, only later. And this is why "Sunday
Night Football" will never be what "Monday
Night Football" was, regardless of what Dick
Enberg tells you.
"Monday Night Football" was a celebration
of the game on its own unique stage. Now, it's
just another over-hyped venue for people to
rant about T.O.
By FOREST CASEY
Daily Arts Writer
There's a line in William Shat-
ner's soul-wrenching, earth-shat-
tering EP Has Been in which
Shatner's proteg6 Henry Rollins
shouts, "Everybody knows every-
thing about all of us!" When Shat-
ner responds, he drops a bomb on
his typical smooth grumble of a
voice, elevating it three or four sto-
ries: "That's too much ... KNOWL-
And we rally tothis cry whenthe
government wants to catalogue all
of our library checkouts, when our
spouses secretly check the history
of our Internet browsers. There
are some things more damning
than pornography, namely written
proof that we chose to read a book
by Tom Clancy.
Thanks to the benevolent dic-
tatorship that we all enjoy under
Apple's iTunes music program,
our computers are possessed with
two invisible accountants adding
together that same kind of embar-
rassment. Play and Skip Count are
the names of these auditors, and
they gather knowledge.
If you're using a version of
iTunes released since the dawn of
the iPod, go into the "View" menu
and select "View Options." Look
to see that the 'Play Count' and
'Skip Count' boxes are checked off
and begin to display your music
library like never before. One
new column in iTunes will let you
know how many times the song
has been played to completion; the
other shows how many times you
thought, "Skip it."
No longer do your claims of
obsession over aband have tobleed
over into hyperbolae. No, you did
not listen to "I'm Bossy" a million
times - your play count only reads
22. You will see the large gaps in
your library left open for explora-
tion of music never before played.
Conversely, you will see the music
you really should think about
And this is great - at first. Giv-
ing up your civil liberties is always
great, at first. Then you start to see
the wastefulness of hosting 11,358
songs, the majority of which have
knows you like
so do we.
never been played. You now know
the distinction between saying,
"Yeah, I've heard of Pavement, I
have them on my iPod," with "I
have played their albums several
times, and I can prove it in a court
Even worse, the Count siblings
run in the background; there's no
way to shut them off permanently.
So, the next time you are having,
say, a salsa dance party, and are
playing the music from your com-
puter, know that your guests are
only two clicks away from know-
ing that you listen to Sade more
than Bjfrk, that you have skipped
that avant-garde feedback-y song
on A Ghost Is Born 15 times. Your
taste in music, for better or for
worse (and it's likely the latter), is
exposed to the world.
This is the cold side of technol-
ogy, when it sharpens opinions
and taste into irrefutable num-
bers. Just how much do you like
the things you claim to like? Well,
I can tell you exactly. And that's
just too much knowledge.
- Check out Casey's blog at