Thursday, 6 July 2017

Oliver!: The Family Cat - Furthest From The Sun/Prog One [Peel Session] (20 March 1992)

By the time I got into "contemporary" music, around late 1994/early 1995, The Family Cat were winding  down their operations.  This barely made a dent on me at the time beyond a flippant "see ya" style dismissal in one of the music papers.  Had I known that three of the members came from Cornwall, I might have been pained by it more.  It certainly explains the thinking behind calling their first album, Tell 'Em We're Surfin'.  How nice that this Peel Session allows me to see beyond the slightly quirky name and appreciate a fine band.
The recording that I heard of the 20/3/92 show only had 2 session tracks on it.  The video is of the full session, and had it been on the recording that I heard, I would have included muscular session opener, Too Many Late Nights in the title.

Second track Furthest From The Sun deserves praise anyway as it prompted Peel to follow it with I Can Take You To The Sun by The Misunderstood for which I was profoundly grateful.  My wife spotted that the riff which opens the tune and which it kept coming back to was lifted from The Man Who Sold The World by David Bowie.  It sets up a loving tribute to a female recluse, living out of sight on a hill in the countryside, but who clearly inspires great devotion in Paul Frederick's vocals, for her lust for life and general spiritual purity.  The line "Sleep gently while you fall" implies that the subject of the song has died.  Whoever it was had a profound effect on the band, as the song became the title track of their upcoming album.
This loving tribute is then followed by the best performance of the session and a track that's harder to get a handle on, but fabulously compelling.  Prog One sounds like it should be setting up a piece of space rock noodling, but instead it uses the narrative of horse racing to chronicle a (forced?) break up of a relationship.  References to riderless/futureless horses making a break for freedom, while those left behind maintain the house as a shrine and "bad men" throw things in the backs of vans help to give this track all the intensity of a Dick Francis thriller.  Maybe he was popular on their tour bus?

The session concludes with River of Diamonds, which can't compete with the riches that come before it.  Perhaps it needed Polly Jean Harvey, who sings on the album version.  My picks start at 3:05.

Video courtesy of vibracobra23.

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