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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Catapilla - Catapilla (1971 uk, outstanding heavy progressive rock with jazz tinges)

West London based Catapilla originally formed in Christmas 1970 with a line up of Jo Meek (vocals), Malcolm Frith (drums), Hugh Eaglestone (sax), Dave Taylor (bass), Graham Wilson (guitars), Robert Calvert (sax) andThiery Rheinhart (wind instruments). 

Their brand of experimental Jazz Rock brought them to the attention of Orange Music, a management company who also handled John Miles, and they arranged for the band to showcase their set to an invited audience of Music Industry people. Black Sabbath manager Patrick Meehan picked up on the band and offered to produce their debut LP. However before he got them to the studio vocalist Jo Meek left and was replaced by her sister Anna. 

The band's self titled debut LP (Vertigo LP 6360029}, produced by Meehan, was released in late 1971 and mint copies of it are today worth around £40 on the collectors market. To support the release the band headed out on a nationwide tour with fellow Vertigo acts Graham Bond and Roy Harper. However the age old "musical differences" reared its ugly head before the group entered the studio to record their second LP resulting in Eaglestone, Frith, Rheinhart and Taylor quitting to be replaced by Bryan Hanson (drums), Ralph Rawlinson (keyboards) and Carl Wassard (bass). 

It was this line up that recorded 1972 's "Changes" LP (Vertigo 6360074), a much more instrumental affair than their debut. Soon after the album's release though the band split up. Most of the members pursued non-recording musical careers though Calvert did record with John Stevens and Taylor popped up in Liar. It was Eaglestone however who kept the name Catapilla alive, opening two collectors record shops in Exeter and Taunton. 
by Mark Brennan

Catapilla released two highly original albums on the legendary Vertigo-"swirl" label. Their style was jazzy, sax-driven progressive rock with lengthy tracks. They really don't remind me of any other band, with the possible exception for "Tumbleweed" and "Promises" that both reminds me a little bit of Affinity (another Vertigo-"swirl" band). The album opens with the 15-minute "Naked Death". 

It features heavy sax-work, powerful vocal-parts with the aggressive, tormented female vocals of Anna Meek, and a long jam in the middle. What really gave Catapilla their distinctive stamp were probably the vocals of Meek and the atmospheric sax-playing. The highlight on the album is of course the 24-minute "Embryonic Fusion". An intense blowouts of energetic, saxophone-driven early 70's jazz-influenced progressive rock. It features great jamming and some structured and strong riffs too. A good album for anyone who likes saxophone-dominated progressive rock. 

1. Naked' Death - 15:38
2. Tumbleweed - 3:54
3. Promises - 5:42
4. Embryonic Fusion - 24:08
All tracks written by Wilson, Rheinhart, Cahert, Frith, Meek.

*Jo Meek - Vocals
*Malcolm Frith - Drums
*Hugh Eaglestone - Sax
*Dave Taylor - Bass
*Graham Wilson - Guitars
*Robert Calvert - Sax And
*Thiery Rheinhart - Wind Instruments

Catapilla's 2nd album
1972  Changes

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adamus67 said...

I'll put my cards on the table up-front ,this album that is one of my favourite and that I really believe that they have never received the recognition they deserve in the seventies was a shame!
Catapilla selftitled debut this excellent West London jazz-rock progressive band. While it’s relatively rare, their second record, Changes , is one of the most sought after releases on the label, Vertigo swirl generally changing hands for in excess of a grand. Unfortunately the more straight-laced end of the prog-rock community tends to unfairly dismiss both Catapilla albums, mainly due to the unconventional style of vocalist Anna Meek. However, it’s her witch-like shrieks that are also part of the band’s appeal to many others. Opener Naked Death is a prime example of her enigmatic charm.

Musically the album is a heady hybrid of psychedelic free-jazz, funky rhythms and killer fuzzed out wah-wah guitar,comprising four long tracks (with Embryonic Fusion, taking up the whole of side two, clocking in at 24' 08") it’s certainly in a world of it’s own. On paper it may sound like an endurance test, but it just seems to work if you let it.
Boy, this is scary! Much more so than any hard-rock flirting with the adversary. It all starts innocently enough, but soon diverts into half-lit and spooky side-streets. Strange threatening dissonants abound, suddenly it's cool jazz-rock that finds no end. The suite on side B is even more creepy. You may think Meek is singing, but in reality she is exorcising her very soul. She means it! Some jazz-voodoo sets in and holy mackerel, there she is again!

adamus67 said...

Like the Colosseum and its founder disk Valentyne Suite, Catapilla group plays music that is a mix between rock and jazz. Formed in the late '60s, the first version of the group includes no less than seven musicians including a section composed of blowers Hugh Eaglestone, Robert Calvert and Thierry Rheinhart. Their meeting with the manager of Black Sabath, Patrick Meehan, leading to the production of an album released in 1971 on the Vertigo label with a cover symbolic apple evoking the Beatles which was bitten teeth. You can not think about anything else as Eve's apple while looking at the cover during the listening sessions. The lilac leaf is a nice find, but the execution of the painting is quite below average.
The lettering fits both the image and the music and is therefore a success. An apple silhouette inside the gatefold holds a picture of the musicians. If you want to see a really starry-eyed girl, then look at Anna Meek. Incredible!
Notes: A promotional folder by Vertigo from 1971 shows this album with the wrong band name ''Caterpillar''. If there is anyone who owns such a sleeve different, real a collectors treasure!
In fact, the music Catapilla has not much to do with the Lennon and McCartney: if the approach typical of the psychedelic era is there, the music is infused with a brassy jazz that is more reminiscent School Canterbury and perhaps more esoteric and these sets are classifiable as Nucleus, Van Der Graaf Generator or above the Colosseum. Only four tracks on this disc two of which are respectively beyond fifteen and twenty-four minutes. The long and last track also bears a title emblematic Embryonic Fusion (embryonic fusion) marking the beginning of what was thought at the time to be a royal road: combining binary rhythmic, energetic and captivating rock with improvisations unbridled jazz. Even if the party is a little spoiled by the falsetto voice of Anna Meek whose "oooh oooh 'and advancements in the treble are almost unbearable behind it runs and the instrumental parts are at the top. The first title (Naked Death) is the highlight of this album. The song is better controlled and downright hypnotic improvisations with guitar agreements acidic and slightly funky on which are grafted sax solos (Robert Calvert) and guitar (Graham Wilson) to the intense feeling: Naked Death is a great time non symphonic progressive rock will draw a lot of combos that will later drink from the merger English novel. The two shorter pieces (Tumbleweed and Promises) are nicely coated in copper clever arrangements but still suffer, especially Promises, outrageous voice, screamed until failure, Anna Meek. Despite this weakness, Catapilla still a good jazz-rock album whose impact would probably have been much higher if he could receive an organ voice more powerful and better suited to this kind of music.

Catapilla (Vertigo 6360 029),1971
Production: Patrick Meehan Jr.. / Cover-art by Rick Breach
Reedition CD (Akarma AK 131), 2004
This is a quite rare album these days, and very difficult to get. Don't miss this one, you'll wait a long time to find another one!!

Thx Marios!

mscmichael said...

Thanks very much for this classic...

George S. said...

Lots of thanks Marios.

mukahnlor said...

awesome marios thanks !!!

Brain Police said...

Nice one, Marios thanks!!

Marios said...