Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Thee Katatonix: A Long Time Ago


Thee Katatonix - "A Long Time Ago" CD (2022)

I'm enjoying listening to A LONG TIME AGO, the Katatonix CD recorded live (at Cal Ripken Jr's old hangout Club Razzmatazz?) "a long time ago" (1984? 1985?) I just got in the mail from the "born-again" Adolf Kowalski who, according to the Dundalk Eagle, now goes by the name "Reverend Ross" of the Universal Life Church. 

As a bonus, the self-financed release is actually a picture disc, depicting then-bandmates Mr Urbanity (lead guitar & vocals), Big Andy Small (drums), and Rockin St Anthony (the bassist who once cured a ham). (Does the hole in the middle represent the "Big A Hole"? Jes' kidding, Adolf...)

Big Andy, St Anthony and Mr Urbanity are picture-disc perfect

A LONG TIME AGO captures that transitional period between thee original Kats cock-rock thrash-punk output (as first heard on vinyl on the 1983 "Valentine's Day" EP) and the more sophisticated, psychedelic-leaning songwriting of 1984's DIVINE MISSION LP that would soon enough blossom into full-on psychedelia during the mid-80s Paisley Underground revival (viz "Daisy Chain," "Ordinary Sunday," "Crown," "Something For You" et al). 

Divine Mission (UK Spud, 1984)

Whereas the 30th anniversary release THANKS HON (2009) was a 50/50 split between tunes by songwriting guitarists Adolf Kowalski and Mr Urbanity...

Thanks Hon, 30th Anniversary CD (2009)

...this live setlist is still dominated by fearless founding leader Kowalski. Sure, there's Urbanity's "Chain Letter," Not In Love" "and "Formula For Our Happiness" (co-written with Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, no less!) from DIVINE MISSION, as well as the that album's Kowalski-Urbanity co-writes "Maison Le Rock" and "Better Living Through Chemistry," but "Your Mother," "Buy Our Record," the encore "I Got VD Again" (based on a true story?) - all new to these ears! - and "Joie de Vivre" (from the '83 EP) are all (for better or worse!) pure Adolf K. And that's not to mention the half-dozen vintage tunes rescued from the original Tommy Gunn-Katie Katatonic-Adolf K Era (circa '79-'80) and played here by real musicians: "My Son the Gynecologist," "Basket Case," "Fungus," "Valentine's Day," "I Don't Wanna Marry a Dyke," and the heart-of-darkness psychobilly joyride that became the "cleaned-up" "Cindy On I-95." 

Original Kats Trio, circa '79-'80

Admittedly, "(You Grow On Me Like a) Fungus," a 1979 Kowalski-Tommy Gunn original, should be co-credited to Urbanity who pulled it into the garage for a quick remake/remodel and refurbished it as a road-worthy psychedelic trip.

"Recorded Live A Long Time Ago" is Something For You

There are also two cover songs here, Hank Williams' "She Thinks I Still Care" and an encore rendition of the Stones' "Mother's Little Helper" (again foreshadowing the pills-a-go-go psychedelic trip the Kats were about to embark on).

Katatonix created a scandal during their Aug. '80 Scandals appearance

"Vamp" is just a 28-second aside, a shout-out to the night the Tom-Katie-Steevee Squeegee edition Kats (Summer 1980) got banned for "inciting a riot" at the DC dive Scandals (oh well, as the saying goes, when it comes to promoting fact or fiction, print the legend!) All in all, pretty impressive. Or, as an earlier Kowalski title put it, this labor-of-love freebie release truly is "Something For You."

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