Catherine Wheel – Ferment

This debut long player by the East Anglian fireworks is a definite high point of the early nineties.  Boosted by relentless gigging and some great singles.  I Want to Touch You, Black Metallic and Balloon are great singles. Black Metallic is a seven minute epic that threatened to be one of those songs that can make and break your career, a bit like the Mock Turtles, Can You Dig It?  or the Soup Dragons, I’m Free.  It is memorable with it’s towering guitar and walls of sound.  Balloon did not appear in all the versions of Ferment releases but it is definitely a worthwhile inclusion.

Catherine Wheel were not just about effects and waves of distortion, there are well written songs, thoughtful melodies which are well combined with the guitar noise.  After it’s release Catherine Wheel changed direction.

Their second album Chrome was a harder, more rock record. This alienated people like myself who thrived in the shoegazing circles, but it ultimately kept them going. Otherwise they would of been amongst the fallen heroes of the shoegazing scene.  The found huge success in the college rock scene which is notoriously difficult for UK band to break.

Catherine Wheel : Ferment

I Want To Touch You
Black Metallic
Indigo Is Blue
She’s My Friend
Flower To Hide
Bill And Ben


Spitfire – Free Machine EP

When the Free Machine EP was released; Spitfire looked poised to become massive.  Personally it is my favourite Spitfire EP the exuberant Wild Sunshine was an instant indie disco classic (there’s an oxymoron, if ever I saw one). The raw seventies garage band sound fill Wild Sunshine and Rock and Roll Part Rocks Off Baby, with excessive use of wah throughout. Slide shows a more somber side, but the wah is still there.

Spitfire : Free Machine EP

Wild Sunshine
Rock And Roll Part Rocks Off Baby

Lush – Black Spring

Black Spring was the fourth EP from Lush. It was released just before their debut album.  Allegedly it is their first movement away from Robin Guthrie, but he is still the producer and engineers it.  So the Cocteau style layering and cloudy production is still apparent.  Nothing Natural is the most prominent track on this EP.  The bass drives this song along.  The EP ends with another song off Spooky, Monochrome which is a very Cocteau Twinseque number.  There are two tracks that do not appear on any of the albums.  One is a sublime cover of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s Fallin’ in Love.   The other is God’s Gift a sparkly ethereal song that reminds me of dew drops on a sunny morning.

Lush : Black Spring

Nothing Natural
Fallin’ In Love
God’s Gift

Ride – Tarantula

Probably unlike everyone else, this is not my least favourite Ride album. Black Nite Crash was the single that was released before the album. It is a great single, and I thought that it was a return to form.

I have to admit I was not a fan of the 60s pastiche Carnival of Light.  In that album half the songs were penned by Mark Gardener and the other half by Andy Bell. In Tarantula they were nearly all written by Andy, causing it to be called his solo project.  This was showing the growing tension within the band. It was a miracle that the fifth album was released.

Andy documents Mark’s divorce from the rest of the band, in the song Castle on the Hill.  There is another school of thought that suggests that this is about Alan McGee instead.

A friend of mine, one of the few. Has locked himself away like Howard Hughes. They’re trying to replace him, but they know they never will.  It ain’t the same without him on the castle on the hill.

It is the most heaviest Ride album, but not in a distorted, effects smothered way like Drive Blind.  The heavy sound showed Andy and Mark’s vocals as not quiet strong enough. By the time Tarantula was released the band had split up, and the album was deleted after a week. Sadly Mary Anne is not the Glenn Campbell song, which Spacemen covered so well.

Ride : Tarantula

Black Nite Crash
Sunshine / Nowhere To Run
Dead Man
Walk On Water
Deep Inside My Pocket
Mary Anne
Castle On The Hill
Gonna Be Alright
The Dawn Patrol
Ride The Wind
Starlight Motel

isn’t – Startled Waking Heart

I love this.  isn’t are three guys from Melbourne Australia, and they have previous hardcore punk background, but have moved into shoegaze.  Using there experiences in the hardcore scene you get these banging tracks that have the cathartic inducing feelings which is very reminiscent of Swervedriver.  It is refreshing that isn’t aren’t looking to recreate shoegaze in the same way Ride, Chapterhouse  and Slowdive did.  The vocals are forthright and the music is out there.  They are not hiding behind mountains of effects, they don’t need to.

The Family Cat – Remember What it is That You Love

The follow up single to the critically acclaimed debut the Tom Verlaine single.  Remember What It Is That You Love was released on Bad Girl Records, and covered by Cud. The Family Cat stood out because they had three guitarists in the line-up and a very poppy, melodic and catchy armoury of songs. It is not true that they were from Yeovil.  They were mainly from Cornwall, which is probably why their debut album was called Tell’em were Surfin’.  To my knowledge they were the the first people to produce FCUK (Family Cat UK) T-Shirts.  These had a Mod Target on them, and came out long before French Connection started to use the say logo and text.

The Family Cat : Remember What it is That You Love

Remember What It is That You Love
Push comes to Shove
(Thought I’d Died) and gone to Heaven

Spiritualized : Tripping in Sweden

I have been lucky enough to get tickets to see Spiritualized at the Royal Festival Hall performing Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space. The first time I saw Spiritualized was back in 1992 at Glastonbury. They were playing during the day and everyone was sat down. As I sat there listening, great walls of sound washed over me. Since then I have seen them at Bristol Colston Hall, Portsmouth Pyramids, Exeter Lemongrove, the Eden Project, Salisbury Arts centre, Bristol Bierkeller, Royal Festival Hall, the Albert Hall and at Glastonbury in 1998. They are such a tight outfit that when I saw other bands around the same time they seemed sloppy.

I brought Tripping in Sweden at a record fair, because I was so desperate for some more material.  It was my first CD bootleg.  The first 9 tracks are from the Lollipop festival 1997 in Sweden and the last 3 tracks were recorded live at Glasgow 15th March 1998

Spiritualized : Tripping in Sweden

Cop Shoot Cop 
Shine a Light
Electric Mainline
No God, Only Religion
Broken Heart
Come Together
Think I’m in Love
Oh Happy Day
Home of the Brave
200 Bars