Comus (band)

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Comus
ComusBand.jpg
Contemporary promotional image
Background information
Genres Acid folk, progressive rock
Years active 1969–1972, 1974, 2008–present
Labels Dawn
Virgin Records
Members Roger Wootton
Andy Hellaby
Bobbie Watson
Glenn Goring
Colin Pearson
Jon Seagroatt
Past members Rob Young
Gordon Caxon
Keith Hale
Lindsay Cooper

Comus are a British progressive folk band which had a brief career in the early 1970s; their first album, First Utterance, gave them a cult following which persists. They reunited in 2009 and have played several festivals and released a new album.

History[edit]

The band was named after Comus (a masque by John Milton), and is also from the name of the Greek god Comus. David Bowie appreciated them and used them as support band for a 1969 concert at London's Purcell Rooms.[1]

Their first album, First Utterance, appeared in 1971. The music is largely acoustic art rock that blends elements of Eastern percussion, early folk and animal-like vocals. The music evokes many feelings, but the most dominant are fear, confusion, despair, with occasional passages of tranquil beauty such as can be found in "The Herald". The lyrics are dramatic, involving violence, murder, and mental disorder. The group disbanded after this album, but Wootton, Hellaby, and Watson reformed the band with new members for their second album, To Keep from Crying, in 1974.

In 2005, a complete box set was released which featured both studio albums, their only single, "Diana", and a previously unreleased track called "All the Colours of Darkness". The liner notes feature an exclusive interview with some members of the band. They reformed for the Mellotronen Festival in Sweden in March 2008.[2] They have continued to perform occasional gigs, including some new material.[3]

On 13 June 2009 Comus performed for the first time in the UK in 37 years at the Equinox Festival at Conway Hall.[4]

In June 2012 a reunion album, Out Of The Coma, was released. It contains three new tracks and a live recording of their abandoned followup to First Utterance, "The Malgaard Suite".[5]

Wootton also appears on some recordings by Slapp Happy. Reed player Jon Seagroatt is also a member of free improvising trio Red Square. Seagroatt and singer Bobbie Watson married in 2003.[6]

Influence[edit]

In 1998, Opeth singer and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt used a part of a sentence from "Drip Drip" for the title of the album My Arms, Your Hearse. The full line was "As I carry you to your grave, my arms your hearse".

Another nod to Comus was given on the 2005 Opeth album, Ghost Reveries. The second track "The Baying of the Hounds" was derived from a line in the song "Diana" which reads "And she knows by the sound of the baying, by the baying of the hounds".

English experimental band Current 93 covered the song "Diana" from First Utterance on their studio album Horsey. Musically this version is considerably different from the original, with David Tibet singing the lyrics in an agonizing fashion and constructing most of the song from a loop based around a vertiginous violin arrangement from the original.

Personnel[edit]

Current members
  • Roger Wootton – acoustic guitar, lead vocals (1969-1972, 1974, 2008-present)
  • Andy Hellaby – fender bass, slide bass, backing vocals (1969-1972, 1974, 2008-present)
  • Bobbie Watson – lead and backing vocals, percussion (1969-1972, 1974, 2008-present)
  • Glenn Goring – 6-12 acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide, hand drums, backing vocals (1969–72, 2008–present)
  • Colin Pearson – violin, viola (1969–72, 2008–present)
  • Jon Seagroatt – flute, oboe, hand drums (2008–present)
Former members
  • Rob Young – flute, oboe, hand drums (1969–71)
  • Gordon Coxon – drums (1974)
  • Keith Hale – keyboards (1974)
  • Lindsay Cooper – bassoon (1974)

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
Live albums
  • East of Sweden: Live at Melloboat Festival 2008 (2011)
  • Out of the Coma (2012) recorded 1972
Box sets
  • Song to Comus: The Complete Collection (2005)
EPs
  • "Diana / In the Lost Queen's Eyes / Winter is a Coloured Bird" (1971)
Roger Wootton solo single
  • "Fiesta Fandango" / "New Tide"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sleeve notes from the 1995 remastered version of First Utterance (BGO CD275)
  2. ^ "Comus Official myspace". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  3. ^ "Roger Wootten page". Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  4. ^ "Comus News". Retrieved 2012-12-20. 
  5. ^ "July 2012". Comusmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  6. ^ "Comus - Bobbie Watson". Comusmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-01. 

External links[edit]