Thursday, December 2, 2021

Diamonds – The Best Of Cats In Space

After four studio albums which have gone some way towards establishing them as a rising force in the rock work, with successful tours supporting established acts like Deep Purple and Thunder as well as many of their own gigs behind them, Cats In Space have now released Diamonds; the best of ..’ album, albeit one with a slight difference. Instead of just selecting unchanged tracks, the band have decided to rework and remaster all the tracks selected for this album, and this approach works. Tracks like ‘Hologram Man’, from Day Trip To Narnia, sound much better on this reworking. There’s also the addition of vocals being added by new vocalist Damien Edwards, replacing Paul Manzi, who’s joined The Sweet, who’s added his own touch to the songs.

Cats In Space comprise a bunch of guys who’re seventies throwbacks and unashamed in their reverence for the music of this era. On the track ‘Last Man Standing’, they sing “I’m the last man standing and right here is where I’ll stay”. Consequently, there are obvious nods to bands like Queen, Boston, etc, but not so as to brand them as plagiarists. They’ve all been around the block .. founder member Greg Hart has played with Asia, bassist Jeff Brown played in The Sweet and Dean Howard was in Ian Gillan’s band .. so they’re all well versed in the music of the era.

The songs chosen on the release will be familiar to anyone who knows the band, as it’s a large selection, that represent the band from their four previous album’s – though the exclusion of the title track of their last album, Atlantis, may raise a few eyebrows. From the crashing chords of opener ‘Too Many Gods’, with its Styx / Queen harmony vocals, Diamonds is a full-on exercise in seventies rock. The version of ‘Scars’, from the album Scarecrow, is Greg Hart’s nod to The Hollies with its harmonies. There’re three other tracks from Day Trip To Narnia, ‘Silver & Gold’, ‘Chasing Diamonds’ and ‘Thunder In The Night’, plus the album concludes with a ‘live’ version of ‘Greatest Story Never Told’, recorded at KK Downing’s midlands venue, Steel Mill, which begins slowly then gradually builds up to quite a rocker.

There are also some clever lyrical digs at contemporary life. The song ‘Hologram Man’ asks why we’re so keen to venerate the dead rather than look to new artists .. “He’s a money machine, making more now he’s kicked the can”. On ‘Two Fifty Nine’ there’s a plea to DJ’s to let songs finish .. “Hey DJ, just play it, stop counting, don’t fade it”. The vinyl release has eleven but this CD has three bonus tracks, ‘I Fell Out Of Love With Rock ‘n Roll’, ‘Revolution’ and ‘Listen To The Radio’.

The reworking of the songs has enhanced their quality and, overall, this is a fine album. If you’re a fan of seventies rock, this one’s for you. Cats In Space are a very underrated band so, hopefully, this revamped ‘best-of’ plus a forthcoming tour will change the situation.

Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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