Comus

Comus was an English folk-psych band that released the 1971 album First Utterance on Dawn. After a temporary disbandment, a reconstituted lineup cut the 1974 Virgin release To Keep From Crying.

Members: Roger Wootton (guitar, vocals), Andy Hellaby (bass), Bobbie Watson (vocals, percussion), Glenn Goring (guitar, vocals, bongos, 1968-72), Colin Pearson (violin, viola, 1968-72), Rob Young (keyboards, percussion, oboe, flute, 1970-71), Lindsay Cooper (oboe, bassoon, vocals, 1972, 1974), Gordon Coxon (drums, 1974), Keith Hale (keyboards, 1974)


Background

Comus arose in 1969 when Bromley guitarist–singers Roger Wootton and Glenn Goring, both art students, presented their duo act on the local folk circuit. They grew to a sextet with singer–percussionist Bobbie Watson, bassist Andy Hellaby, violinist Colin Pearson, and keyboardist Rob Young. Their name came from Comus (A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634), a “masque” (Renaissance courtly theatre interlude) by 17th-century English poet John Milton.


First Utterance

Comus released their debut album, First Utterance, in February 1971 on Dawn. It contains four lengthy numbers by guitarist–singer Roger Wootton, who co-wrote “The Herald” with guitarist–singer Glenn Goring and bassist Andy Hellaby, who co-wrote the shortest song (“Bitten”) with violinist Colin Pearson, who submits the opening track “Diana,” which appeared simultaneously as a single with two non-album cuts.

1. “Diana” (4:37)
2. “The Herald” (12:15)
3. “Drip Drip” (10:56)

4. “Song to Comus” (7:31)
5. “The Bite” (5:27)
6. “Bitten” (2:16)
7. “The Prisoner” (6:15)

Recorded November–December 1970
Studio Pye Studios, London

Roger Wootton – acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Glenn Goring – 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars, electric guitar, slide guitar, hand drums, backing vocals
Andy Hellaby – fender bass, slide bass, backing vocals
Colin Pearson – violin, viola
Rob Young – flute, oboe, hand drums
Bobbie Watson – lead and backing vocals, percussion

Production
Comus – arrangements
Barry Murray – producer
Jeff Calver – recording, engineer

Cover artwork (ball point pen) – Roger Wootton
Centerfold artwork (painted) – Glenn Goring

Dawn lifted “Diana” as a single on February 5, 1971, in the UK and Japan with two non-album Wootton compositions.

A2. “In The Lost Queen’s Eyes” (2:50)
B. “Winter Is a Coloured Bird” (8:05)


To Keep From Crying

Comus released their second album, To Keep From Crying, in 1974 on Virgin. Guitarist–singer Roger Wootton wrote eight numbers and harmonizes with percussionist–singer Bobbie Watson on three: “Children of the Universe,” “Perpetual Motion,” and the title track. Watsons sings “Figure in Your Dreams” and the Keith Hale composition “Get Yourself a Man.” Bassist Andy Hellaby submits the miniatures “Waves and Caves” and “Panophany.”

To Keep From Crying features guest contributions by members of Virgin labelmates Gong (saxophonist Didier Malherbe) and Henry Cow (reedist and Comus alumni Lindsay Cooper). Roger Chapman produced the album in the gap between stints in Family and Streetwalkers.

1. “Down (Like a Movie Star)” (4:06)
2. “Touch Down” (4:45)
3. “Waves and Caves” (1:32)
4. “Figure in Your Dreams” (3:10)
5. “Children of the Universe” (5:37)

6. “So Long Supernova” (3:20) features Esperanto cellist Tim Kraemer.
7. “Perpetual Motion” (4:07)
8. “Panophany” (0:26)
9. “Get Yourself a Man” (7:07) features Didier Malherbe on saxophone.
10. “To Keep from Crying” (5:27) features Lindsay Cooper on bassoon.
11. “After the Dream” (0:59)

Recorded 1973-1974
Producer Roger Chapman

Bobbie Watson – lead and backing vocals, percussion, recorder
Roger Wootton – guitar, lead and backing vocals
Keith Hale – piano, organ, electric piano, synthesizer, marimba
Andy Hellaby – bass, autoharp, tape effects
Gordon Coxon – drums, percussion

Additional musicians
Philip Barry – bongos


Discography:

  • First Utterance (1971)
  • “Diana” / “In the Lost Queen’s Eyes” / “Winter Is a Coloured Bird” (1971)
  • To Keep From Crying (1974)
  • Out of the Coma (2012, recorded 1972)

Sources:

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