Many will recall Britain’s Catherine Wheel as one of the most range-roaming, seminal and viscerally intense alternative rock bands of the ‘90’s: “Eat my dust, you insensitive fuck,” purred silky vocalist Rob Dickinson on the band’s 1994 release Happy Days.
In Dickinson, the band possessed a songwriter and lyricist of rare talent with scalpel-sharp statements emanating from gorgeously epic songs such as their breakthrough, the feedback-soaked "Black Metallic" ("…it's "Like a Hurricane" for the ‘90’s," drooled the NME). This song in particular heralded Dickinson’s ability to skillfully knit together romance, wit – and power! - in the music. Through constant evolution and a steadfast refusal to repeat themselves, Catherine Wheel grew into a swaggeringly assured, devastatingly effective, scene-setter of a band.
Criminally overlooked, (Rolling Stone famously sub-editing the review of the band's 1997 masterwork, Adam and Eve, down from 4-1/2 stars to 3-1/2), never was a band so influential and yet so invisible. Catherine Wheel quietly unleashed six brilliant albums, all an artistic development of the last, and all reflecting a musical force that could crush any band that dared share a stage - ask Radiohead or The Smashing Pumpkins about that.
And then the band vanished. No word, no explanation, no fanfare, no farewell, no best wishes, no 'best of'. "People were no longer paying attention. Going out with a bang seemed a little inappropriate," says Dickinson dryly. "I'm not bitter about the band's modest success. I view that time as an apprenticeship. It was a time when I was free to experiment and was encouraged to be 'an artist'. I consider myself lucky to have been blessed with such an opportunity."
What’s been going on with Dickinson since the Catherine Wheel was “parked”? What he has very definitely been doing is writing fantastic songs. And so begins Part I of the Resurrection. Whatever merit his past with the band may confer on him, Dickinson's inevitable stardom would appear to be as a solo artist with this breathtaking collection of music on his debut album, Fresh Wine For The Horses.
From a conversation with Venus on "My Name Is Love" to the whimsical heartbreak of "Oceans" ("As far as I can tell, you already bare the scars of love") to the emotional highs of "Towering and Flowering", Dickinson's Fresh Wine for The Horses bristles with romance but still keeps its manly charm. Says Dickinson, “This record is about recognizing and accepting the sometimes ugly truth. It's about love, devotion and enlightenment.”
Dickinson’s Resurrection Part II came after the unfortunate dissolution of the record company that first released this stunning album. Handpicked by legendary producer Bob Ezrin of Pink Floyd, Kiss, Lou Reed (and Catherine Wheel!) fame, Fresh Wine For The Horses was presented to Universal Records on a silver platter, and the second chance given to the album begins a new chapter for the audacious performer.
Part III of the Resurrection brings Rob’s magnificent new addition to the album, the song “The End of the World”. It lifts shamelessly from the soundtrack to the British cult movie Withnail & I and creates its own death-defying, all-or-nothing beauty in a song about last chances.
And out of the ashes comes Nude, the other half of Rob’s spectacular 2-CD set. At the personal request of the head of the record label, Rob has revisited six choice Catherine Wheel classics and put a new twist on these old favourites. It is easy to tell that the songs have held the test of time and that the stripped-down melodies still ring true over 15 years later. “Re-recording these songs is like reuniting with old friends,” says Dickinson. “I hope that new listeners will fall in love with them and that those familiar with Catherine Wheel will find their passion for the tunes reignited.”
Third time’s the charm.
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