FMF Episode #49 – Cats

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DJ: I want chicken, I want liver, Meow Mix, Meow Mix please deliver! Hello again and welcome to another episode of Feel Me Flow! Remember that damn jingle? How could anyone forget?! Last time we met, we dug into the dirty paws of dog songs.  This week, we’re all about cats and kittens! “Ketchup, cats and kittens” as Sir Paul McCartney says in “Monkberry Moon Delight“.

We left that tune off the list today, but boy, oh, boy do we have some amazing feline fun ahead of us! A cat fight will most likely happen a bit later on, but we’ll tame it down with a set about cool cats. Ya know, the kinda cats that wear black sunglasses at night? We’ll have a double Set 4 Score from previously played artist The Squids, as well as a band out of Bellingham, Washington called Cat Bomb. 

Furrrrst off, we’ve gotta pay homage to the rockabilly giants Stray Cats.  Brian Setzer helped rekindle the rockabilly fire that was dying out in the 70’s thanks to his Gretsch and taste for the hot rod culture. The late 90’s swing revival would see Brian’s solo work gain traction, but let’s start off with his first throwback sound.  The theme song to the band and perhaps the most recognized neo-rockabilly tune out there, here’s “Stray Cat Strut”.

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DJ: The lead track, “Kitty”, off of The Presidents of The United States Of America’s self-titled debut album immediately prepared you for what the rest of the album would entail. Weird, bass-driven alt rock with quirky lyrics. I suppose that’s what most of the 90’s Nirvana-spawns were going for in a way, though. Be weird and dirty with catchy hooks and you’ve got a seller; sort of like Bob Dylan used to do back in the 60’s.

The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet withdrawn album cover depicts a toilet splashed in graffiti including a long curling arrow pointing to the flush handle that read “Bob Dylan’s Dream” on the other end.  The back cover of the LP contains more graffiti which is supposedly written by Mick and Keith. “Stray Cat Blues” is the only song title that is missing from the wall, unless you can find it somewhere? I’ve never been able to. You can own a copy of the photo for the low price of $2,200.

The Stones covered Rufus Thomas’ “Walking The Dog” on their debut 1964 LP. Rufus recorded the answer song to Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” just two weeks after its release. “Bear Cat (The Answer To Hound Dog)” flipped the gender roles and pointed the finger back at feisty women. “Bear Cat” wasn’t nearly as successful as “Hound Dog”, though, which makes sense.

Say Anything started out as just Max Bemis and Coby Linder.  The two of them recorded the debut album …Is A Real Boy together in 2003-04 with Coby on percussion and drums and Max playing bass, guitar, singing, and keyboards with additional help from the production team. The single “Alive With The Glory Of Love” preceded “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat” on the album and would kickstart the band’s career. 

Speaking of minimal players with big sound, Minneapolis’ Kitten Forever features only a bass guitar, drums, and vocals sung through a telephone. The group also features previous Set 4 Score artist Laura Larson of Scrunchies. Check out the lead track “Fun Fact” from their new 2018 LP Semi-Permanent. This song has so much power and so does the band when playing live. Here’s the four-string fierceness of Kitten Forever.

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DJ: That’s the Let’s Dance version of “Cat People (Putting Out The Fire)” from David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder. Giorgio scored the soundtrack to the movie Cat People and enlisted Bowie to sing for the title-track.  The soundtrack version, which features a more techno feel and longer intro, was also played during the movie theater scene at the end of Inglorious Basterds. If you’ve seen the movie, you would recognize the significance of the song and title during that scene.

Anton Newcombe, the founder of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, teamed up with Toronto-based singer Tess Parks in 2014 to record a French-inspired blues-rock album. The result was a perfect mix of sleuth and saccharine. The tune “Cocaine Cat” sounds like a long-lost Serge Gainsbourg cut from an English-speaking ,Canadian-born singer.

Speaking of French recordings, Elton John recorded “Honky Cat” and all of Honky Chateau at the Château d’Hérouville in France in January 1972.  The lead track off of the Gold-certified Honky Château was the second single released from the album following the enormously huge “Rocket Man (I Think Its Going To Be A Long, Long Time)”.

“Honky Cat” played well off of Lee Dorsey’s “The Kitty Cat Song”. Lee’s perhaps best known for “Ya Ya” and “Working In A Coal Mine”, but also recorded the Allen Toussaint tune “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”.  Robert Palmer would cover that song on his debut album of the same name with The Meters and Lowell George backing him on the record.

After Prince’s untimely death in 2016, the war began over the vault of unheard recordings he had amassed over his career. Things have started to filter out, and the Deluxe Expanded Edition rerelease of Purple Rain in 2017 featured an entire disc titled From The Vault & Previously Unreleased. One of those unreleased gems is the sunshine synth pop “Velvet Kitty Cat”. Gee, I wonder what euphemism Prince is chasing here.

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DJ: Kurt Cobain listed Big Black’s Songs About Fucking in his “Top 50 by Nirvana” journal entry. This song in particular stands out as a huge inspiration for Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice”. In fact, I can’t really hear the latter without picturing the former in my head. What’s more, is that Big Black’s Steve Albini recorded Nirvana doing that song in 1993 at Pachyderm! What a trip!

Muddy Waters got all psychedelic in 1968 and plugged his blues guitar into a fuzz pedal. The producers at Chess wanted his classic electric blues to appeal to a more modern, young audience. The kids those days were into noise, specifically noise that would sound good when tripping on acid. Some of the songs fell a little flat, but most of the album turned out to be the groundwork for the fuzz rock that showed up a few decades later. We heard “Tom Cat” from that psych-blues effort.

Little Willie John recorded “Leave My Kitten Alone” in 1959, just 9 years before he would meet an early grave. After finding success in the 50’s with hits like “All Around The World” and “Fever”, he would struggle to gain ground in the 60’s. In 1964, John was punched by a man who took the chair of one of John’s acquaintances. John retaliated with a knife and killed the man. At 27 years old, Little Willie John was sent to prison in Walla Walla, Washington. At 30, he’d have a heart attack and die in jail. Crazy. The Beatles recorded “Leave My Kitten Alone” for Beatles For Sale, but ultimately left it off the record. It surfaced in 1995 on the Anthology 1 compilation.

Set 4 Score champs Peach Kelli Pop sped by with “Hello Kitty Knife” from 2018’s Gentle Leader. Although Allie Hanlon is a dog foster parent, I’m sure she’d find space in her heart to represent cats today. Cats, dogs, they’re all animals and need love. PKP has been on tour since April and shows no signs of slowing down until at least October. Go get their new album, its so good!

Speaking of the Set 4 Score, our next set thwarts us into a cat battle! The Cat Fight set starts off with The Kills’ “Cat Claw”. The band’s 2003 debut album Keep On Your Mean Side was an instant hit with critics. Rolling Stone called it “dark, kick-ass garage rock”.  Yep, that’s pretty apt.  Singer Alison Mossheart also fronts the Jack White side-project The Dead Weather. Here’s “Cat Claw” starting off our Cat Fight set.

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DJ: O Shrek Yes! Los Angeles surf-garage outfit The Squids put out a stellar album in 2018. The aforementioned O Shrek Yes! generated “Junk” for our Garbage episode and also features a group of great tunes surrounding it.  “Feline” follows it on the album, but check out “Goner” and “Is It The Same?” for more sunny garage gold.

Another Jack White association tussled with us before The Squids. Olivia Jean is a member of The Black Belles, a goth-rock garage outfit out of Nashville. Jack produced The Black Belles debut album along with Olivia Jean’s solo effort Bathtub Love Killings. I mean, if you couldn’t tell by that signature guitar soloing during this song, maybe listen to some of his solo stuff. Its uncanny how much Jack loves that guitar tone. Olivia played “Cat Fight” from the solo LP.

Cat Bomb hails from Bellingham, Washington.  The band is themed on cats, with song titles including “Cat Fight”, “Cataclysm”, “Alpha Cat” and so on.  The band’s 2nd demo EP Smile features “Cat Fight”, a song that walks like the riff of Papa Roach’s “Blood Brothers” before jumping into an old school punk/late 70’s hard rock cocktail.

Sweden has such an incredible garage rock scene.  In general, Sweden has an incredible music scene. EDM/Electronic artists like The Knife, pop groups like ABBA, and garage rock and punk bands seem to spit out great hooks. Stockholm’s The Maggots released This Condition Is Incurable on 10″ wax and CD in 2002, featuring “Cat Fight”. The band isn’t internationally known, but stacks up with The Hives and The Hellacopters when it comes Sweden’s garage scene. 

Had enough fighting? Us too. How about we cool things down a bit with our Cool Cats set. The second single released from London’s Palma Violets, “Step Up For The Cool Cats” couldn’t quite match the success of “Best Of Friends”, but still carried the band through to international fame.  After the release of their second LP Danger In The Club, the band called it quits. Here’s that second single leading off our Cool Cats set.

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DJ: If you’re a repeat listener of the show, you’d know how much we love the Australian scene right now. The Babe Rainbow hails from Byron Bay, New South Wales and plays an early 70’s/late 60’s throwback style of surf pop rock. I hear hints of T. Rex, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonley Hearts Club Band, maybe a dash of Dick Dale thrown in for beach vibes. From their brand new LP Double Rainbow, released July 13, 2018, that was “Cool Cat Vibe”.

We mentioned The Beatles’ Anthology 1 earlier in the episode when Little Willie John showed up. They had covered “Leave My Kitten Alone” for Beatles For Sale, but left it off. The Beatles’ cover of “Three Cool Cats” featured George Harrison on vocals and the infamous Pete Best on drums. The song was one of 15 compiled on a demo made for Decca Records in London. Decca passed. They passed! George Martin’s Parophone would pick them up three months later, and its a damn good thing they did.

About a year and a half after The Beatles’ final performance on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building, a brand new London band would play their first performances known as Queen. Queen built a worldwide following by the end of the 70’s and in the 80’s headlined one of the biggest concerts ever with Live Aid. After shifting gears in the early 80’s with Hot Space, the band found collaborative help from David Bowie and the album’s smash hit single “Under Pressure”. Bowie sang backing vocals on “Cool Cat”, but had them removed from the song just before the album pressing.

Squeeze played us the title track from their 1979 LP Cool For Cats. The album featured four UK singles, making it the most successful of the band’s career. The sophomore release also saw the band venturing into synthesizer territory. While Jools Holland’s keyboards were present on the debut, they were almost always background filler. The New Wave push made for a change in sound, resulting in the post-disco, post-punk, New Wave sound that is Cool For Cats.

Our last set gets a bit psychedelic, starting with The Grateful Dead. The first week in August is Jerry Garcia week, did you know that? Have you sparked a joint and injected that heroin to celebrate yet? No? Maybe a good thing. We love the Grateful Dead around here.  It sure is a damn a shame that Jerry had to go so early. Here’s the Dead with “China Cat Sunflower”. Oh, and feel free to spark that joint…

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DJ: There’s Al Stewart bringing that smooth folky disco jazz to the closeout of the show. Apparently the saxophone was added later on and would be the key to helping the song branch across genres and hit the mainstream at just the right time. “Year Of The Cat” clocks in at almost 7 minutes too!

In 1981, Cherry Records took some Marc Bolan demos from the late 60’s and 70’s and added backing instruments to them. The result was the posthumous album You Scare Me To Death. Ty Segall would go on to cover “Cat Black” for his Ty Rex T. Rex covers release.

Primus offered us up “Too Many Puppies” in last week’s Dogs episode, so we thought it’d be the right thing to do to play another pet song from them. “Tommy The Cat” features a spoken word performance meant to be Tommy talking to singer. In fact, it was Tommy speaking. Tom Waits voiced the cat on the album version of Sailing The Seas Of Cheese. Tom Waits and Primus in the same room. I can’t even imagine that.

Mink Mussel Creek originally formed in 2005 with future Tame Impala founder Kevin Parker. The band recorded an album’s worth of material but the album was neve released. In 2011, though, Kevin reformed the group, produced, and drummed for them for a new album called Mink Mussel Manticore, released in 2014. We heard “Cat Love Power” from that LP.

And that, my feline friends, is the cat’s pajama’s. The kitten caboodle. The show that was Feel Me Flow! Thank you so much for stopping by and listening to cat songs with us. Our next episode is our 50th episode and we have a little something special planned. Stay tuned. We’ll see you next time on Feel Me Flow!

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