Tuesday 27 January 2009

The Family Cat

The Family Cat were pretty much typical of a lot of British indie bands at the arse end of the 80s and early 90s, in the fact they just weren't sexy enough to emulate the likes of Lush or Curve or - heaven forbid - The Stone Roses, yet had a live following every bit as fanatical.

Going to a Family Cat gig between 1990 and 1992 was one of the most exhilerating things a teenager could do. Indeed, they might have been like a lot of indie bands around in that way that they sold loads more t-shirts than they did records, but in many ways they were completely different; they weren't shoegazers and they weren't baggy. And they weren't The bloody Senseless Things.

I first heard The Family Cat whilst listening to John Peel's 1989 Festive Fifty. Numbers 50 and 49 were Inspiral Carpet tracks. Then came The Family Cat's mesmerising Tom Verlaine, which sounded like The Field Mice playing a Spaceman 3 song. It still gives me shivers and transports me back to a horrible period of my life where I lived with my Dad on a tiny house next to by-pass in North East Lincolnshire. I was earning £1.50 an hour at the time, all my friends were still at school, my Dad was drinking rather heavily, and so I sort emersed myself in listening to late night radio and buying indie records from Andy's Records in Grimsby.

Tom Verlaine isn't the greatest song ever written, but it reminds me so much of those days that I can hardly bring myself to listen to it now. But every time I do, I'm still struck by its power.

Anyway, I immediately repaired to Andy's Records and bought the band's mini-album Tell 'Em We're Surfin. It's still fresh today, despite sounding like it was recorded in the middle of cow pat.

The band's run of singles after the mini-album firmly pinned them to my heart forever. Remember What it is That You Love had a very fashionable quite verse/noisy chorus thing going on; Place With a Name is probably as near to indiepop as they came and had the beautiful Concrete and Pass Away on the b-side; Colour Me Grey was my 'feeling fed-up' teenage anthem for a few good months and featured a pre-superstardom PJ Harvey on backing vocals; and Steamroller - the band's biggest hit - was about their love for Southampton FC, and was a massive in provincial indie discos, as I remember.

After that, I moved to Nottingham, and I think I sort of left The Family Cat behind in Grimsby. The band's second album, Furthest From the Sun, got played to death, but it wasn't really the same, and by the time of the last lp, Magic Happens (ironically their most successful), I was still buying every single, but only really out of duty.

But for the adventures of going to down to London to bounce around at sweaty gigs in the early 90s, I'll always love The Family Cat dearly. As their t-shirts said: All other bands are dogshite.
Well, that's not strictly true, of course...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I liked those songs! There was maybe even a touch of Kitchens of Distinction to them.

Reading your reminisces about these bands that were important to you when you were younger is nice. Though it makes me realize that I never had any local or regional bands that I was fiercely devoted to or that I would still listen to today with fondness. All the bands I was in love with as a teenager were from your damn country.