OK, So Sue Me...

These Two Artists Only Needed One Name...The One Of A Good Lawyer

Thomas Dolby

You have to figure if you name yourself after a noise reduction process--you should be able to proceed without static...But when Thomas Robertson began using his nickname "Dolby" (Given to him because his non-stop attachment to his cassette player) as his performing surname, Dolby Labs threatened legal action.

The "lab" wanted the "performer" to stop using the "Dolby" name, or his next hit would be him getting hit with a lawsuit. The problem was that Thomas had been "Dolby" for years. In addition to performing and writing songs for Lene Lovich and Bruce Wooley and Camera Club, he did mos
t of the synth work on Foreigner 4. Normally in cases like this, no one cares what you do until there is some money to take. With the success of his album "The Golden Age Of Wireless" both on the radio and MTV, the money was there for it to suddenly become a problem. This was not Thomas Dolby's first run in with lawyers. After failing to secure a record deal in the late '70's when he left Lovich's band, he was so in debt he moved to France. The cash from the sessions with Foreigner paid off his debts and allowed him to produce demos for the some of the songs that would be on "Wireless". Eventually, the 2 parties finally came to an agreement. As long as the artist kept the use of the name to "Thomas Dolby", and nothing else, the matter was done.

The album "The Golden Age Of Wireless" was far from done. This record was a big hit across the board, reaching the top 15 on Billboard's album charts and top 50 on the urban charts. There was heavy video airplay on MTV and 3 singles on the Top 100 and Album Rock charts as well. Technically adept with a quirky oddness, this is a solid record that pre-dates the "Dork Rock" of bands like They Might Be Giants. In addition to the hits, there are some worthwhile deep cuts (songs that got some play on College stations, some of the braver rock stations, and the handful of "alternative" stations at the time) to be had here. "Flying North"
, a song where the narrator imagines his plane breaking the stratosphere into space, only to eventually touchdown to reality via the runway, has Dolby working both the synthesizer and the delay machine to optimal aural effect.

Listen to "Flying North"

Comsat Angels

For every kid who dreams of being a rock star, there is a parent whose dream is a for their kids to get involved in something more grounded--like the legal profession. When The Comsat Angels became plaintiffs, somebody's parents got their wish.

The Comsat Angels were a New Wave outfit from Sheffield, England who had some critical success in the UK with 3 tense atmospheric records. Commercial appeal and a US record deal eluded them until they changed direction toward a synth/pop sound. That wasn't the only change they had to make...The Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) took issue with the band's name, claiming copyright infringement. After adjudicating (look it up...) the issue, the band was known as The C.S. Angels in the US. The band was actually named after the science fiction writer J.G. Ballard's story "The Comsat Angels", so perhaps as a nod to Ballard they shortened Comsat to just 2 initials. It made better marketing sense than F.U. would have...

After all the B.S. was over The Comsat/C.S. Angels scored a College and Alternative hit with "Will You Stay Tonight"
ng on the current sound of the time (1983) without looking like fashion tools or pouters, this song captured both radio and club play and continued to be one of the most requested songs on the lunchtime or Sunday Morning "Flashback" shows, until the fall of the independent alternative radio station.

Listen to "Will You Stay Tonight"