The Astronauts [English art rock band]

England The Astronauts [English art rock band]

Album’s Overview
#1 the-astronauts-peter-pan-hits-the-suburbs.jpg 1981 [10, 39:54] The Astronauts - Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs (Genius Genius-001) studio • new music 6.87 “Good” New Wave
#2 the-astronauts-its-all-done-by-mirrors.jpg 1983 [11, 43:09] The Astronauts - It’s All Done By Mirrors (All The Madmen Records MAD-5) studio • new music
#3 the-astronauts-soon.jpg 1985 [9, 47:39] The Astronauts - Soon (All The Madmen Records MAD-11) studio • new music
#4 the-astronauts-the-seedy-side-of.jpg 1986 [6, 26:44] The Astronauts - The Seedy Side Of… (All The Madmen Records ‎MAD-LP-005) studio mini • new music
#5 the-astronauts-in-defence-of-compassion.jpg 1989 [10, 40:41] The Astronauts - In Defence Of Compassion (Acid Stings ASR-15) studio • new music
#6 the-astronauts-up-front-and-sideways.png 1992 [13, 48:42] The Astronauts - Up Front And Sideways (Astro 6) studio • new music
#7 the-astronauts-youre-all-weird.jpg 1999 [13, 57:38] The Astronauts - You’re All Weird 0.000.png (review pending upload) (Irregular Records ‎IRR-041) studio • new music
date.png 15-Aug-2010
notes.png The end. Band disappeared in the early 2000s.


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 mainstream 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 small town 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.

Robin Basak
Zero Fanzine

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