Power pop revivalists CATS in SPACE have returned with this cover of one of Slade’s best-loved songs, released only on 7″ vinyl. No digital downloads, not even a CD version – it’s available only on either red or white vinyl (or both, if your pockets are deep enough) on a good old 45 RPM seven-inch single. (Ask your parents if you didn’t understand that last sentence!)
The Cats have already covered this song, when they performed live earlier in the year. In the audience that night was a certain Daniel Bowes, of Thunder fame; as well as singing for the venerable British band, he is also a respected figure in the industry, and also hosts a weekly radio show on Planet Rock in the UK. He has been supportive of the CATS in SPACE project ever since their debut album (‘Too Many Gods’) was released last autumn, playing tracks from it on his show and also wearing one of the band’s T-shirts during festival performances by his own band. When approached to contribute vocals to this single, he said it took him ‘about a second and a half’ to agree to it. The resulting track is thus a duet between himself and regular CATS in SPACE vocalist Paul Manzi. Initial copies come with the record sleeve signed by the entire group plus Danny Bowes, and the Slade cover is backed with a new track penned by Cats guitarist Greg Hart and 10cc vocalist Mick Wilson, titled ‘Scandalous’.
Being old-school myself, even my turntable is primitive; you have to remove the platter and move the belt from one pulley to the other in order to change speed. It’s usually on the ’33’ pulley so it was time to change it over to ’45’ so that this record could have a spin. The ‘A’ side is a straight rendition of the Slade song, with Manzi starting it off and alternating lyric lines with Bowes. Neither singer tries to emulate the great Noddy Holder (wisely) however, they bring their own qualities to this rendition of the song. If you know the original, then this version is a little cleaner-sounding, possibly a bit rockier, but not much different. The cover has reportedly had the thumbs-up from original Slade drummer Don Powell, which says they must have done something right!
Flip the single over and we get to hear previously unreleased track ‘Scandalous’. On this track as well as on the ‘Too Many Gods’ album Greg Hart demonstrates how he can make a new song sound very much in the style of his favourite acts, while not copying them outright. Listening to this song, a catchy power-pop number, you’ll think of Queen, or maybe City Boy, perhaps even Wilson’s band 10cc, but in the chorus, when they sing ‘Scandalous!’ I was reminded strongly of the Bee Gees’ hit ‘Tragedy’! A good song that perhaps could have made the album, although of course overshadowed by a very good delivery of a classic, genuine 1970s song.
The single is still available at the time of writing via the band’s website; the signed copies have all been sold now but the group (along with Space Elevator) are playing a short run of UK dates later this month, and so if you get one at their merch stand there’s a great chance you can still get it signed. Recommended.