Cat Mother by Cat Mother


I’ve just finished watching a six part BBC drama called “Chloe”. It starred Erin Doherty, who played Princess Anne in “The Crown”. The story wasn’t too complex but parts of it didn’t make any sense to me because I didn’t watch it properly. As soon as I find my concentration waning, when watching TV, I reach for my phone and start playing Killer Sudoko or FreeCell. A mobile phone played an important part of “Chloe” but I didn’t see whose phone it was and why Erin Doherty’s character had it.

I’m one of the first people to criticise “young people today” for their lack of concentration. Too much time spent on an X-Box, walking to College listening to music, texting while having a meal etc etc. The truth is that when I was teaching at BHASVIC a couple of years ago, most students were quite capable of studying in silence for an hour or more. It’s me that can’t concentrate.

One of the best TV series ever shown was called “In A Land Of Plenty”. It was shown over 10 weeks in 2001 and tells the story of a family from the Midlands between 1950 and 1990. It starred Shaun Dingwall along with Robert Pugh, Helen McCrory and Kaye Wragg. It was beautifully filmed and managed to mix nostalgia, happiness, tragedy and hope into an irresistible cocktail. It was based on a book by Tim Pears which I also read. I have a box set of the series on VHS. It has never been released on DVD or BluRay and it’s not available on streaming services. I now don’t own a video player so I am unlikely to ever see the series again. I guess I’ve watched it about four times but it’s so good that I could watch it another four times at least. I don’t feel that it is “right” that I can’t watch this series again. As Evan Dando sung in “The Outdoor Type“, “What if something’s on TV and never shown again.

John and I speak on the phone every week and, inspired by The New Statesman Questionnaire, we have started circulating questions before our call, which we then discuss. For example, this week, he has asked me “What is your personal definition of success?” Blimey. I dunno. Another question is “What era would you live in if you could travel in time?” Well, I don’t know the answer to that one either. I think I’m happy where I am, thanks. I don’t want to travel forward in time because the human race will have destroyed the planet and I don’t want to go back in time where we all died young and most people led very simple lives. I’m quite happy to have all the modern conveniences that we have now which enable me to not watch TV programmes properly and where concentration levels are not required. Hang on, that’s not right. Surely it was better when there were fewer distractions, less choice and I was forced to focus on one thing at a time?

I’ve written a lot in the past about Spotify. I don’t subscribe to Amazon Music or Apple Music but they are similar. When searching for Cat Mother (or Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys, as they were originally known), nothing is available. There are also no CD’s of their music available but second hand copies of the records are available on eBay . At first, I thought how shocking it was that although I have three of their records, if I want to listen to them, I have to go into the only room in the house with a record player. I can’t listen to any of their music on my phone which means I can’t listen whilst walking Bruno. I can’t put their music on in other rooms of the house. I can’t play their music on a CD in the car. I actually have to go to a special room and put on a record. That’s terrible. Once again: Hang on, that’s not right. This is what every single person in the world did until recently. When I lovingly acquired “On The Threshold Of A Dream” in 1969, I carefully took it to my bedroom and sat and listened to it. Concentrating properly, reading the lyric booklet, trying to make sense of the cover art and avoiding all extraneous thoughts. Maybe that’s the era that I’d like to travel back in time to. If I wanted to watch “Play For Today” or “Man Alive”, I made sure I was in front of the TV at the correct time – once it had finished transmitting, I’d never see it again. If anyone had told me about YouTube, I’d have assumed they were writing an absurd Science Fiction novel.

This is all a bit rambling. Let’s try to sum up. 1) It was simpler in the days when I had just one place to listen to my music. 2) My powers of concentration were better when I was younger. 3) It’s a bit entitled of me to expect that every piece of music and everything that’s ever been on TV should be available whenever and wherever I want it.

Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys released four albums. “The Street Giveth… and the Street Taketh Away” (1969); “Albion Doo-Wah” (1970 ); “Cat Mother” (1972); “Last Chance Dance” (1973). For their last two albums, they dropped “And The All Night Newsboys” from their group name. In 1969, they had a hit with “Good Old Rock’n’Roll”, reaching Number 29 in the Billboard Charts. The song incorporated snippets of “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “Long Tall Sally”, “Chantilly Lace”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”, “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Party Doll”. This was a very unrepresentative song, making them sound like a rock’n’roll revival band when, in fact, their strength lay in developing the new sounds of country rock that would later be popularised by The Eagles.  

The cover to “Cat Mother” is brilliant. It’s a fold out sleeve with a cartoon of the band on the front; the back reveals itself to be a continuation of the front with a stoned out hippy guy munching on a record. The inside of the cover is a series of individual cartoon portraits along with a few photos.

“Greenwood Shuffle” is a mid tempo song with a very positive feel. As with most of Side One, Bob Smith’s organ playing predominates. I can only guess that Brinsley Schwarz were fans of this record. I can certainly empathise with the lyrics “Yes I know you have trouble, I can tell by the way you walk“.

Luckily, YouTube has these songs.

“She Came From A Different World” is not a science fiction story but describes the feelings of writer Bob Smith, when meeting a beautiful girl. It’s a slower song, with a real Sixties sounding lead guitar from Charlie Prichard. It tells the story of a girl walking into a bar and hitting on the singer. At first, “she was nervous, it was plain to see, to find herself sitting with a boy like me.” He asks her to talk and offers to buy a meal. She replies that, actually, she’s looking for somewhere to sleep. At the end of the second chorus, “she was nervous, it was plain to see, to find herself talking with a boy like me.” He offers to show her his stash and so they sleep together. “She came from a different world. Her voice was soft and her hair was curled. she was nervous, it was plain to see, to find herself sleeping with a boy like me.” I’ve had dreams like this too.

“Ode To Oregon”, “Three And Me” and “The Dribblewood Blues” are shorter and simpler but equally charming. The first of these features great piano playing, the second is a very simple song with just vocals and a guitarron (a large Mexican guitar) and the third is an instrumental with sensational slide guitar.

The sixth song on this magnificent Side One is “Trials And Tribulations”. It’s a perfect country rock song, starting slowly but building to a climax, with great piano playing and a wonderful electric guitar solo. The vocals (either by Bob Smith or bass player Roy Michaels) are impassioned, describing the trials and tribulations of a life spent searching for happiness. “When you live out on the street, you pray for your own salvation. It’s your own decision. Can you make it through?”

The drummer with Cat Mother was Michael Equine. On Facebook in 2010, he stated that “I was the Drummer for Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys ’67-’77, and have played off and on through the years with MANY GREAT musicians. I have 2 daughters, and am in the process of traveling in my spare time..” His last post was in 2012: “Still in a holding pattern, sleeping on the floor at my sister’s. Lost my SSI due to address confusion. California says I’m no longer a resident. Warner Brothers owes me money, but never sends it. So, I’ve got the “three esses”, Sick, Scared and Stuck. Anybody got any ideas? Money would help, but I’ll settle for ideas. P.S. It’s a “Catch 22″— Can’t get my benefits back until I get back to California, but I can’t get back to California without my benefits.” Sadly, this seems a real life postscript to “Trials And Tribulations”.

Update: I’ve just seen that the whole of “In A Land Of Plenty” has been uploaded to YouTube. That rather spoils the thread of my argument.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

One thought on “Cat Mother by Cat Mother

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