Harmony Factory [Release date 08.03.19]
Album number three already from these groove filled Cats In Space who since their last album ‘Scarecrow‘ have been touring with the likes of Status Quo and Deep Purple, plus their own headlining tour. In fact the band’s touring helps hone their sound and make it a proper band when recording, unlike many of these project bands that lack the natural chemistry you get from said touring.
Cats In Space like a little bit of classic innuendo as ‘She Talks Too Much’ proves. A quick, almost throwaway song that Queen did so well back in their 70s pomp. Speaking of pomp and all things glam, ‘Silver & Gold’ is a glamtastic stomp back into the days when Sweet and Slade ruled the airwaves and charts. As an added bonus the Sweet’s Andy Scott guests on backing vocals.
Scott also appears on ‘Hologram Man’, a topical swipe at the current trend of dead rock stars coming back to front their bands. Some choice lyrics in this one including ‘Let’s welcome back the legend, But you can’t shake his hand’ and ‘He won’t get tired of playing’.
Greg Hart and Mick Wilson (ex-10CC) are a talented writing duo, successfully adding in their own musical influences, yet also creating a unique Cats In Space sound and style. Special mention about the artwork by Andy Kitson, a real treat for those who love a good album sleeve and inlay. You can see Narnia references like the lamppost and wardrobe (the Snow Queen looks like Blackie Lawless at first glance!) and the bedroom artwork is something else, astounding.
You wonder what Cats In Space could do different this time? How about side 2 being one long 27 minute epic with a storyline (told in the comic included in the inlay), strings and all manner of vocal and musical delights that make up ‘The Story Of Johnny Rocket‘. A real band effort as Paul Manzi is joined on lead vocals by Jeff Brown, Greg Hart and Mick Wilson, whilst Andy Stewart pomps it up on the synths and piano – Supertramp and Styx fans will love the keys throughout this song, and indeed the album
One minute it could be ELO on string filled ‘Twilight’ (not the ELO song of that name though), then there is a little disco on the excellent ‘Thunder In The Night’ – think Kiss jamming with Chic. Bit of the Bay City Rollers on ‘One Small Step’ – that would have been a teen anthem back in the day.
Those who remember the music of the 70s first time around will love the nods to bands and sounds included in this song, whilst younger listeners will now have the pleasure of tracking down these musical influences and discovering them for the first time. Purr-fect for all the Cats fans out there and those yet to discover the musical joys of this band. I didn’t award any album fives stars last year, however this gets my first in over a year, a purr-fect five. *****
Review by Jason Ritchie
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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