The Astronauts – East Coker Hall, Yeovil 29/12/84

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Nice mixing desk recording of a great gig by this much under rated band, a band with one of the best lyric writers ever to put pen to paper in any genre of music. Plenty of Astronauts downloads are on this site if you care to search for them via the search function.

Text below by Devotional Hooligan, ripped off his Astronauts myspace page.

Eternal long-haired losers. This semi-legendary band have only released seven albums in its long existence but each of them is a bonafide classic. The Astronauts second album ‘All Done By Mirrors’ judged by those who heard it as among the best albums of all time was a stunning collection of explosive pop songs and traditional folk ballads recorded at a time when all their gigs were with anarchist punk bands. Their fifth album ‘In Defence Of Compassion’ experimented with ambient house music years before other conventional bands even thought of doing so. With so many excellent songs (many never recorded) it is probably The Astronauts enthusiasm for drugs and music over career and changing fashions which has stopped them becoming as well known as they should be.

Inspired by the UK punk explosion Mark Astronaut formed the band with a few friends in 1977 and began playing local gigs in their hometown of Welwyn Garden City. By 1979 The Astronauts were regularly appearing at free festivals and gigs in London organised by a hippy collective known as Fuck Off Records and from these began a close friendship with London punk bands Zounds and the Mob.

That year the first Astronauts EP was released on local label Bugle Records and musically it reflected the hippie drug culture combined with the energy of punk. ‘All Night Party’ still sounds like the paranoid nightmare it did back then. The record established the Astronauts on the local gig scene among the non mainstram hippie / punk / biker crowd.

Also in 1979 an EP was released under the assumed name of Restricted Hours on the Stevenage Rock Against Racism label. ‘Getting Things Done’ attacked the political apathy of smalltown life while ‘Still Living Out The Carcrash’ was musically a typically nightmarish theme.

By 1980 gigs throughout England with Zounds had won over an army of fans and the ‘Pranksters In Revolt’ EP sold all its copies within weeks. Musically the four songs were not as adventurous as the first EP although the lyrics were as incisive as ever. Like many great bands from the post-punk era The Astronauts were completely ignored by the UK music press which then as now was only interested in anything trendy, fashionable or middle class. Local fanzine Zero began to champion the band as did the local newspapers.

The debut album ‘Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs’ was released by Bugle / Genius Records in 1981 to widespread acclaim. Incredibly it received great reviews in virtually all the UK music press. The typical Astronauts audience at the time was largely punks attracted by the energetic gigs and a handful of hippies, so the album was something of a surprise. Full of heartfelt folk ballads and featuring legendary jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill, the album was not what fans had expected but appealed to a different audience.

The contradiction of heavy chaotic punk performances and structured melodic alternative pop / folk / ambient songs continues to this day.

Throughout 1982-1985 there were hundreds of gigs with the many anarcho punk bands of the era and  the second album ‘All Done By Mirrors’ on All The Madmen Records was arguably the finest album to date. ‘Soon’ again on All The Madmen Records featured great songs but was let down by lifeless production, yet it still remains one of my favourite albums.

8 Responses to “The Astronauts – East Coker Hall, Yeovil 29/12/84”

  1. Eddie Says:

    Thanks for this, you can never have too much Astronauts. And a new song, too.

    BTW, I hope this is ok here, it’s the Danny and the Dressmakers version of All Night Party.
    http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?y2emkdided4

    Does anyone know of any other cover versions of Astronauts songs?

  2. Ardcorr Says:

    Idiot Strength played at this. Unless The Astronauts played more than one gig at East Coker?
    I have a tape to prove it. Andy Tuck made his first of many stand in appearances as Matt missed his train or something.

  3. Ernie Turdwurzel Says:

    Were Idiot Strength Briefly called “This Angry Silence” and did they have a song called “Wasting Time”?.

  4. AL Puppy Says:

    Or was the song called ‘This is Wasting Time’ and the group called ‘An Angry Silence’?

  5. Bob Says:

    Were Idiot Strength Briefly called “This Angry Silence” and did they have a song called “Wasting Time”?.

    Nope!

    It’s Weird, I was playing bass in two of the support bands at the time of this gig (Blind Dogs & Wreck of the Hessbruss – spelt wrong on the flyer BTW) but have no recollection of this gig at all. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and the f*ckers all decided to do it without me!
    I also went on to play in Idiot Strength – small world innit!

  6. Penguin Says:

    Alright there Bobbler? Good to see you are still kicking…

  7. Bob Says:

    I also went on to work with Mr Micky Penguin too! Even smaller world!
    Talking of which Mick shouldn’t you be working at the moment! Tut tut!

    See you at The Mob gig ol’ chap!

  8. Penguin Says:

    Ahh I got a week off Bobbler…and yes looking forward to that April long weekender. I will be going up to Bristol on the 17th and staying until the 20th. I would expect a cider on the bar with your name on it will be available to be picked up as long as you can prove to me that you are of drinking age ;-)
    Small world, wouldn’t want to paint it though…
    I got those two Idiot Strength demos to put up on KYPP soon, one with Giles bassist, one with you bassist (awaiting some text from Steve on that post) also I have ready to go a Blyth Power / Wreck Of The Huss—– gig in some village hall plus the Wreck Of The Huss—– demo recorded in a kitchen (awaiting text from brother Tuck on that post).
    This time next year you will be world famous.

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