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


Catherine Wheel – She’s my Friend

The  debut  single  that  was released  on the  minuscule  Wilde  Club label.   It was never  going  to  make an impression on the charts as it is a vinyl only release limited to 3000 copies, but it did cause much excitement in the indie world.

It has the original versions of She’s My Friend and Salt, these were rerecorded for Ferment.  I would not say that there is much different between the single and album version, except the album version is less fuzzy (which could be a good or bad thing).  Salt has slightly softer vocals and harmonies, which more standard in the shoegazing genre.

Both Wish and Upside Down are good solid songs but never made it onto the album. Interestingly, the sleeve for the single features a Carrie impersonator covered in blood, the photograph was taken at a San Francisco gay parade.

Catherine Wheel : She’s my Friend

She’s My Friend
Upside Down

Catherine Wheel – Balloon

Great Yarmouth’s Catherine Wheel was formed in 1990. I was very impressed with their early work. This was predominantly shoegaze, but then they went a bit rock and got a massive following from the US College Radio scene. This enabled them to outlast most of the early nineties scenesters.

The Balloon EP demonstrates that Catherine Wheel had more up their sleeves than the run of the mill indie chart offering. Balloon and Intravenous are vivid well crafted pop songs. Balloon was the first song that made me seek out Catherine Wheel after hearing it on the radio. It’s catchy tune that encouraged radio play. There are two live tracks included Let Me Down Again and Painful Thing they showcase their live energy.

Catherine Wheel : Balloon s-l500

Let Me Down Again (Live)
Painful Thing (Live)

Catherine Wheel – I Want to Touch You

My favourite Catherine Wheel song ever, and the single has some great b-sides. Ursa Major Space Station appears on here first, before it was later reworked and rereleased on the album Chrome. This is a stripped down original version, it reminds me of Pearl Jam a bit.

The tone becomes even heavier with the dirty metal grunge riff of Collideoscopic. The single ends with Our Friend Joey a thrashy punk stomper that only lasts for a minute and a half.

Catherine Wheel had only been formed for two years when I Want to Touch You was released and it shows that Catherine Wheel had severed all links with the shoegazing fraternity and had gone to a rockier shore.

Catherine Wheel : I Want to Touch You

I Want to Touch You
Ursa Major Space Station
Our Friend Joey