Sunday, February 14, 2016

Catalyst - 1975 - A Tear & A Smile

A Tear & A Smile

01. The Demon Pt. 1   
02. The Demon Pt. 2
03. A Tear And A Smile   
04. Fifty Second Street Boogie Down   
05. Suite For Albeniz
06. A Prayer Dance   
07. Bahia   

Vocals – Eddie Green (track A2),Sharon Scott
Cello – Michael Peebles (track B1)
Clarinet, Flute – George Taylor (track B1)
Flute – Shirley Byrne Brown (track B1)
Flute [Alto], Flute – Steve Tanzer (track B1)
Viola – Aliza Appel (track B1)
Violin [Soloist] – John Blake (track B1)
Drums, Marimba, Percussion – Sherman Ferguson
Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass – Tyrone Brown
Electric Guitar – Charles Ellerbe
Electric Piano, Piano [Acoustic], Synthesizer [Moog] – Eddie Green
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Flute [Alto] – Odean Pope
Vocals [Chant], Percussion [Misc.] – Farel Johnson

Last (and least) album from a band that obviously sought a more commercial path and veered towards soul-jazz, even adding vocals and syrupy ballads to the track list. Even the album title sounds a bit like a sell-out. One of the main difference with this album is that drummer Ferguson became the main songwriter, and a bunch of string and wind arrangements are sometimes intrusive.

The album starts out well enough, with the two-parts The Demon (7-mis+ in total), of which the slow first instalment even has a Canterburyan feel with its fuzzed-out instruments. However the second part features weird intrusive vocals on a Head Hunters-like funk. This heavy deviation from the Catalyst norm is even more unsettling in the light of the following smooth flute-driven Tear And Smile. Too much of a contrast, IMHO, especially that we return to a street-funk-jazz ala Head-Hunters/On The Corner with disputable choices of synths. As for the flipside, the opening Spanish-sounding Albeniz is the album’s highlight though the string arrangements are limit cheesy. The album’s pot-pourri ambiance goes a step forward with a stinky ballad with sultry but soppy vocals from Sharon Scott. And to even further confuse, the album closes on a gentle Brazilian jazz (aptly named Bahia) which also feature vocals

Compared with its three predecessors, this album is obvious odd one out, resembling the bazillions soul-jazz albums that abounding and flooded the record racks of the times. Indeed only the opening tracks of either side of the vinyl will have still a strong link with the trusted early Catalyst feel. Best avoided, if you ask me…. But then again you might not have a choice, because I think that all of Catalyst’s albums are only available on CD format through two 2on1 compilation discs affair. At least I’m not aware of the albums getting their own single album releases.

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