Sunday, 14 April 2013

Wall of Sound A-Z: Catatonia: Way Beyond Blue

Wall of Sound Part 3: C Catatonia Way Beyond Blue

Looking back to 1996 I'm not sure what drew me to buying Catatonia's Way Beyond Blue. I don't remember  why I bought it, I have a funny feeling I had visited the (relatively) short lived Tower Records store in Brum and wanted to buy something. Wandering around I do remember picking up the album and deciding to chance my arm on it. Being a geek I did use to write down the tunes I used to buy and I have found that I bought it on the 9th Jan 1997, paying the princely sum of £11.99 and buying it with the Goya Dress album (Nude Records, Suede support £5.99) and a Nut CD single for 99p of Scream. This was a Thursday so would have been a lunch hour potter down to the shops rummaging through the racks to find tunes that I enjoy.
Looking in the book, I see that 10 days later I bought Beck's Odelay, which was relevant because the 2 albums formed a tape that spent a number of months in the car stereo of my old Beige Metro. The car below wasn't mine, but looks a lot better than mine. This was my first car when I joined my first job out of Uni and considered my unreliable mini was not reliable enough. 

This was not a lovely car but paid for itself thousands of times over in mileage allowances. I remember one Christmas spent defrosting the engine with a hairdryer at Mrs P's house up North when I had forgotten to put any antifreeze in it and snow and ice froze it solid. Sadly when it did get defrosted all the pipes had burst so it was off to scrap yards to replace them.
My car was not this lovely
On another occasion driving home we could smell petrol, so pulling to the side of the road we could see it being pumped into the engine from a hose. Called the AA van but rather than wait I found that turning the hose upside down solved the problem, so we were away again.

The tape used to get played every journey to work for a few months in the winter. On one such journey to a client in Telford, I parked at the gate house in the cold to sign in, and thinking it was really cold I would leave the engine (and heater) running. Sadly I also locked the door which was a good habit to be in and went inside. Coming back to the car I searched all over for the keys and then saw them in the ignition. Another call out for the AA and an easy morning for everyone at work as all our files were locked in my car belching out fumes at the gate house. I also used to have great fun on frozen nights in Telford, working late, trying to start the car, having a flat battery and then trying to jumpstart it myself by pushing it down a hill, jumping in and bump starting it in second gear.

The album is a really mellow album in parts, really uplifting in parts, sing along in parts and the high point for me is 'You've Got a Lot to answer for' (track 4) and the refrain 'but baby I love you'. Looking back its quite surprising what an impact this had on me, or at least my record buying and how long I would be chancing my arm on Cerys' wares. 

I really enjoyed Catatonia for a couple of reasons, firstly Cerys Matthews the lead singer has one of the most distinctive singing voices I have ever come across, its between her and Nene Persson from the Cardigans for my favourite singer of all time. Secondly they were not massive at this stage and as a result I had them as my own band under the radar, something that I really enjoyed. That was to change with the first 2 singles off the next album, I am the Mob (a Mark and Lard record of the Week when they did the Breakfast show) and Mulder and Skully, anthemic sing along with X files tie in, in the middle of Brit Pop and Catatonia's star shone for their 15 minutes of fame.

I got to see them in one of the most value packed gigs ever, Steve Lamacq put on a gig with co-headliners Travis and up and coming support Idlewild, at Birmingham Irish Centre £8 25 March 1998 - Brilliant.

Continuing to listen to the album whilst writing this, there is quite a mixture of songs, lots of showcasing of Cerys lyrics, she cowrote all the songs. Particularly enjoying the end of For Tinkerbell with the La La La La La La and strings and brass at the end.

There were a number of follow up albums, Cerys solo albums, celebrity big brother, 6 Music DJ, ongoing gigs, albums and even childrens books which I have signed by Cerys for my kids. All of which I followed with great interest, but Way Beyond Blue will always have a fond place in my heart.

So to wrap up I will just include my favourite tune:

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