Saturday, 15 October 2011

Coming down from love: Cat in the Hat - Bobby Caldwell (1980)

I wish I could persuade others to like Cat in the Hat and stop them guffawing with incredulity when they find out it is my favourite album, this sadly is very much an album I fear that I am going to be consigned to placing on a pedestal whilst others place it in the charity shop bargain bin. I truly don't know anyone of my peers and contemporaries who own this album, but then again, I guess they are missing out and I will be left to enjoy this pleasure, much like my homemade orange brandy - which I still maintain tastes like Cointreau - on my own!

Cat in the Hat is the sophomore album from the smooth jazz/blue eyed soul songster Bobby Caldwell. To read the glittering if short review on All Music one would be surprised that this album hasn't been snaffled up by more people and to my mind one phrase stands out 'not one duff track on the album'…how true!

A bit like Christopher Cross's debut album that I reviewed a few weeks ago, Cat in the Hat is definitely stuck in the soft rock genre and has probably suffered at the hands of the critics and changing times as a result. But I cannot resist it and if I was to say that there was one album I come back to more than any other then it would be this one.

Each track is a meticulously played, meticulously produced and has real passion. Funky and soulful, Caldwell had already dazzled with his debut album and the smash (and oft sampled) 'What you won't do for love'. This album was different, very slick and soulful lacking the harder edge and resonating chords of Cat in the Hat. Nowhere on the record is this more apparent than on the most famous and sampled track 'Open your Eyes' an oft overlooked 80s pop classic with echoed vocals and rollocking piano chords descending into a dirty guitar riff which will imprint itself on your mind for hours after listening to it.

But the other tracks are great too. The amount of air guitar time I devoted to the rip-roaring solo from 'Coming Down from love' and in time clapping to the infectiously funky 'Mother of Creation' does not bear thinking about. The slower more romantic numbers are also thoroughly please, Caldwell pulls out all stops on tracks like 'To know what I've got' and the disco rhythmed 'Wrong or Right?' giving a truly powerhouse performance… although many of my mates still remain unconvinced, the philistines! 

Like Christopher Cross, I maintain the view that some artists make consistently good albums and others have a flash of greatness that seems to reach the stratosphere only to plummet back to earth by the next album. This is the case with Cat in the Hat, a wonderful album that I will unsuccessfully defend for many years to come for it affords me such great aural pleasure on every listen.

Perhaps I have poor taste in music, then so be it, I won't stop enjoying this album all the more on each play through. And Since this is a day for breaking with precedent (See my review of Al Moro on the main page) I am awarding this 11/10, and put it in a class of its own - if you can find me a better album, I'd like to know!

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