Friday, April 27, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 54: Catherine Wheel - Chrome

Album - Chrome
Artist - Catherine Wheel
Key Players - Brian Futter -Guitar/Backing Vocals, Dave Hawes -Bass, Neil Sims - Percussion, Rob Dickinson - Lead Vocals, guitar
Produced By - Gil Norton

Release Date - July 23, 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- Catherine Wheel is one of those bands that I had/have been a fan of since I first heard them. Even with the last few albums being somewhat "uninteresting" they still capture a perfect moment in time and released some great records and singles. For the first few records they released this particular one is one that I'd grab "least often" honestly. It is a little more fun to look at a record now and then that you may have not grabbed "first" even when you were a big fan.

Overview - This is the second record from Catherine Wheel. The band was categorized as a 'shoegazer' band in the early years but this harder record would bring them more radio play as well as larger audiences and record sales. Catherine Wheel would become one of the bigger names in "alternative rock" in the early 1990s. Dickinson would really develop as a singer around this time as well. Over time audiences tastes changed some but the band always remained true to its sound and vision.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- "Kill Rhythm" opens with guitar and Rob signing right out of the gate. The band then erupts around the vocals. The bass and ride cymbals stick out as the band chugs along. The bass fill cascades over the top as the band folds back in to a groove. Towards the end it lulls the listener only to explode once more. "I Confess" is a driving track. The production value on this track alone is worth a listen. Once again you can hear each instrument both the subtleties they bring as well as their driving force. "Crank" was the lead off single from the album. One of the three tracks on the album that also produced a video. A single crunchy guitar fades up and Dickinson begins the verse with the vocals in a high vocal range. The background vocals have a little bit of a call and response to them. The guitar work of Futter holds down the bottom during the verse. After the second chorus the band really has hit its stride. We are only three tracks in and the band is a very cohesive unit. A bombastic guitar intro brings "Broken Head" up. Before long you are actually singing the bass line to the track. (listen during the chorus and try not to). The mid section of the track is a wall of sound that has the listener actually leaning towards "turning it up" no matter how loud it is. "Pain" if the 'shoegazer' tag could be used in part on this record look no further than the intro to this song. Swirling guitar over a very heavy band before dropping back some for the verse. The drums rap, the bass chugs and the guitar flitters over the top before the band steps on overdrive and it all swells back up. The formula is repeated yet remains interesting to the listener. The final few minutes of this track are a sheer auditory climax. The track hardly fades before "Strange Fruit" is right up in your ears. The drum line is not overly complicated from a technical standpoint but it adds a lot to the feel of the track. Catherine Wheel can write some fast songs, and this is right up there, but its a comfortable fast. It does not feel out of place at all. "Chrome" the title track (no duh) opens with a crunchy solo guitar and the band comes in shortly after. The track is uptempo and won't let the listener shake off easily. "The Nude" is considerably slower than the last two tracks but the song still has a very heavy rock overtone. The vocals are still pushed and Rob soars on a few lines. "Ursa Major Space Station" follows with some light effects on the drum intro as the guitars fade up. The swirling guitars hearken to the shoegazer phase but the band is rocking a little too heavy to be pigeonholed to that genre. The guitar and bass work "shred" towards the end of this track. "Fripp" follows with a very subdued intro. Simple guitar line and some ride cymbal with a light bass line under it all. The track shares the same (last) name of Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame. A terrific track that just builds and builds yet I can't escape the idea that I want to sing "Hey Hey My My" (Neil Young) during certain points. "Half Life" is a little more uptempo than the previous track with some tight guitar lines and a more 'bounce' to the beat feel. "Show Me Mary" wraps up the album on a high note. This was another single from the album and perhaps a little more well known. The band produced a video for this track as well. The lyrics are shot out as quickly as the band plays. A slight tribute to the Ramones for the chord progression but still one of the best songs the band ever recorded.

Where are they now? - When the band released their last studio album Wishville it was met with lackluster support from the industry. Also audience tastes were shifting. As a result the band is listed as being on "hiatus" since 2000 but the members have been busy. Neil Sims and Brian Futter have a project called 50 Ft Monster. When one tries to click over to they are brought directly to Rob Rob continues to write and perform solo. Dave Hawes was released from his bass duties during the recording of "Wishville". Dave wrote a note to fans about this subject that you can read here.
Also while doing research for this I stumbled upon a page that Dave was running. I had emailed him to "confirm" this to be true. He was very polite in his response. Please check out his page here to see what he is up to...and buy something! (thanks again for the nice response Dave)

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The band were no strangers to the road. They would play headlining shows, festival shows as well as opening slots. Somehow I only managed to see them two times live. The first was September 1, 1995 at Club Babyhead in Providence. It was a packed sweatbox of a show but one of the most memorable shows I ever went to. The second and final time was part of a "Holiday Concert" named for a Boston Radio station. The WBCN Holiday Rave at Avalon on December 2, 1997. Catherine Wheel was on the bill with Everclear and Ben Folds Five.

FDF Overall Take
- Honestly if you came to me asking which Catherine Wheel cd to check out first I'd be the first to make the suggestion of Ferment or Happy Days..that is until I went back and gave this the good old FDF treatment. Sure Ferment and Happy Days contain some of the more important (to me) Catherine Wheel tracks this cd stands up easily with those mentioned. In reading some reviews the band went from "shoegazer to metal" between Ferment and Chrome. This is a far, FAR cry from a metal album. It is a little more punchy perhaps but no less focused. Grab this if you don't have it..or spin your copy and fall in love all over again.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***MP3's have been removed 6/1/07 12:20pm ET

I Confess
Strange Fruit
Show Me Mary

Like it..grab it
here or even
here (hey we do the leg work for you!)

Extra special live show download.

Catherine Wheel
Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland Ohio
December 13,1993

This show has been removed...

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 3:34 PM, Blogger Sharon S said...

I'll take a copy :)

At 11:58 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

cd on the way to Sharon!

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Conan776 said...

Thanks for the review. I was just dusting this one off myself!


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