CATHERINE WHEEL – ” Ferment ” Reissue

Posted: June 18, 2022 in MUSIC

Long overdue and welcome re-issue of this 1992 debut album and shoegaze classic, Plus six additional bonus tracks chosen by the band including the limited edition 2,000-only pressing of the ‘30 Century Man’ EP, the non-album single ‘Balloon’ and live fan favourite ‘Intravenous’ which fans have been trying to get hold of for years.

Centred around re-recorded versions of four songs from the band’s two Wilde Club singles and the seven minute lovelorn “Black Metallic” – which was referred to as the “Like a Hurricane” of the ‘90s – the deeply rich “Ferment” firmly established Catherine Wheel amongst the shoegaze contingent of the early ‘90s. The band would proceed to denounce the shoegaze tag, but it was a fitting one, at least with everything they released prior to 1993’s harder edged “Chrome“.

Catherine Wheel buried their sing-along melodies in wafts of distortion and blurry production values. Rob Dickinson had yet to find comfort as a lead singer, so his somewhat fey and dazed emoting blended perfectly with Tim Friese-Greene’s comfy production. The employment of numerous guitar pedals didn’t serve as a smoke-and-mirrors ruse, and Friese-Greene knew enough to allow room for bassist Dave Hawes and drummer Neil Sims to flex their able muscles. Dickinson and lead guitarist Brian Futter were immensely skilled and complementary to each other from the band’s inception; certainly they were one of the most unrecognized guitar duos of their stylistic brethren.

Hailing from Great Yarmouth, Catherine Wheel were one of the original shoegaze bands of the early ’90s time along with Ride, Slowdive and Chapterhouse.

They had already released two independent single and recorded a Peel session before signing to the Phonogram Records imprint Fontana in 1991. Their epic debut single for Fontana, ‘Black Metallic’ brought them attention and praise from the press and fans, it also became their biggest hit in the States making the top ten in the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and is still name checked now as indie classic of the early ’90s.

The band followed this with two more singles, ‘Balloon’ and ‘I Want To Touch You’ before releasing their debut album ‘Ferment’ in mid-1992. The album was produced by Talk Talk’s Tim Friese-Greene.

Like all fine debuts, “Ferment” is varied emotionally, ranging from lust (“I Want to Touch You”) to bliss (“Shallow” and “Salt”). It’s a record that makes you want to crawl inside its sleeve and remain. It’s as welcoming as it is insular and sheltered.

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