Monday, July 6, 2015

CATAPILLA – Changes (LP-1972)

Label: Vertigo – 6360 074
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1972
Style: Jazz-Rock, Prog Rock
Recorded released 1972 (die-cut gimmix fold-out cover) - An Excellency Production
Lyrics By – Anna B. Meek
Design – Martin Dean
Producer – Colin Caldwell

A1 - Reflections ........................................................................... 12:14
             Written-By – Meek, Wilson, Calvert
A2 - Charing Cross ........................................................................ 6:48
             Written-By – Meek, Wilson, Calvert
B1 - Thank Christ For George ...................................................... 12:11
             Written-By – Meek, Wilson, Calvert
B2 - It Could Only Happen To Me ................................................. 6:52
             Written-By – Wilson, Calvert

Graham Wilson – guitar
Anna Meek – vocals
Robert Calvert – soprano, alto & tenor saxophones (electric and acoustic)
Ralph Rolinson – organ, electric piano
Carl Wassard – electric bass
Brian Hanson – drums, percussion

The second and last album from Catapilla was even weirder and more experimental than the debut, but actually also better. Robert Calvert delivers some of the best and most beautiful sax-playing I've ever heard on an album. Listen to the instrumental "It Could Only Happen to Me" and you'll hear what I'm talking about. You can hear the same on the last minutes of the 12-minute opener "Reflections" and "Thank Christ for George". The music seems often to be based on jams, and always dominated by Calvert`s saxophone and Meek's voice. Unusual, original, atmospheric and always very beautiful in the more quiet parts. If you're tired of Genesis and Yes clones and want to hear something far more original progressive rock, then you definitively should try Catapilla.

_1          Catapilla's second album is probably better-remembered for its gatefold cover -- a bug-headed lettuce leaf which opens to reveal a fat, juicy maggot -- than for its contents. Delve in deeper than that, though, and the music is even more striking . A magnificent LP, Changes offered an absolute shift away from the grinding Armageddon of Catapilla's debut, with the opening "Reflections" viciously carving out a new territory which floats with breathtaking audacity. For over 12 minutes, vocalist Anna Meek and saxophonist Robert Calvert duel and duet in a manner which would influence everything from Deep Purple's voice and guitar confabulations to Gong's spectral, spacy meanderings. Indeed, experienced Catapilla-watchers will not have been surprised to see Calvert working with that band's Gilli Smyth in the mid-'90s; the blueprint is all over "Reflections." From such a spectacular high, Changes drops back somewhat for the next two tracks, preferring to refine the jazz-rock compounds its predecessor found so profitable, but without the eye-over-the-shoulder toward Crimson and company. "Charing Cross" is jerky and arrogantly discomforting; it's the closest thing to the first album's brittle battery. The relentless "Thank Christ for George," on the other hand, is a smorgasbord of textures underpinned by some absurdly angry guitar and one of Meek's most effective vocals. But it's the reflective instrumental "It Could Only Happen to Me" which truly returns us to the peaks of the opener. A lovely sax melody haunts the same pastoral landscapes as Pink Floyd inhabited across "Atom Heart Mother" and "Echoes" before being scythed into silence about three minutes in, as Graham Wilson's guitar not only rewires everything you thought you knew about Catapilla, but comes close to rewriting prog history as well. A third album from this most visionary of bands, drawing its impetus from "Reflections" and "It Could Only Happen," might have rendered even Dark Side of the Moon academic. As it is, we can only dream wistfully, "What if?"

(Review by Dave Thompson)

_2           The sax is fantastic on this album as Robert Calvert plays acoustic and electric 
saxes and he uses tenor, alto and soprano.The drumming is so crisp and fluid like all great Jazz drummers are.This album is more atmospheric and spacier than the debut and many feel that Anna's vocals are better too. I like the way she uses vocal melodies. I can't forget the electric piano either. Everything for me is extremely well done.
"Reflections" opens with female vocal expressions as the sax joins in. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes to a full sound. How good is this ! They're jamming here.The sax is ripping it up 3 1/2 minutes in. Electric piano comes in a minute later and leads. So freaking good. Psychedelic sounding guitar joins in then vocal melodies before 6 minutes. Sax to the fore after 7 minutes. A calm after 8 1/2 minutes then the vocals come in and echo. What a way to start the album !

"Charing Cross" opens with sax, drums and piano as the vocals join in. I like her. This is trippy stuff. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. Intense. She offers up some vocal expressions.The organ comes in but it's brief. Sax follows before the guitar solos tastefully as it settles back.The guitar and vocals are crying out.

"Thank Christ For George" has a good raw sound with the sax playing over top. A change after 2 minutes as the drums and vocals standout.The sax and bass are excellent here too. We're grooving now.The sax and vocal melodies lead and the drums pound as they jam.Vocals and drums stop before 8 minutes as the sax and cymbals take over in a spacey atmosphere. She's back before 10 minutes.The guitar comes in as it builds. So good.

"It Could Only Happen To Me" opens with the guitar, bass and sax standing out then it all gets louder before a minute. Organ joins in as well.The guitar leads before 3 minutes then it's the sax's turn again before 4 1/2 minutes in a laid back manner to the end.

It's music like this that really brings me joy. Simply a pleasure.

(Review by Mellotron Storm, Prog Reviewer)

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. CATAPILLA – Changes (LP-1972)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC+Artwork


  2. Chiquilicuatre y ZappaJuly 6, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    Many thanks
    The albums are great British jazz prog -rock ( with musicians from Africa in some cases): Diabolus,Osibisa ( Woyaya ),Demon Fuzz,Assagai

  3. After returning from a short holiday I discovered your recent post. Haven't seen nor heard Catapillas albums in years. I vaguely remember having this album on my turntable about 40 years ago. As always, amazing vinyl transfer. Huge thanks for a pleasant evening with intense listenings.
    Uwe from Germany

  4. This is new to me! Thanks for an interesting listen and lovely sounding transfer. Quite taken by the vocals, apart from the occasional Slickisms.

    1. I do not understand the term "Slickisms". The only thing that comes to mind is that you may have thought to connect the way vocal expression Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane / Starship) with voice modeling Anna Meek, which I certainly would not agree.

    2. Grace Slick is the reference I intended. I wasn't fishing for agreement, however! Just something I heard on first listen- I haven't yet had the opportunity for a second. Thanks again.

  5. Any chance for the first Catapilla album with "Naked Death"?

    1. Okay, but give me a couple of days, if you want good quality sound, vinyl rip asking a lot more effort.

    2. Thank You very much. Of Course, take a time You need.

  6. Right here is the link for the first Catapilla LP:

    CATAPILLA – Catapilla (LP-1971)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC+Artwork

    A1 - Naked Death .................. 15:46
    A2 - Tumbleweed .................... 3:58
    A3 - Promises .......................... 5:46
    B - Embryonic Fusion .......... 24:27

    One of those early progressive albums that positively drips with a hazy, late-sixties vibe, the debut album from little-known jazz-influenced outfit Catapilla is an underrated little gem blending elements of jazz, avant-garde folk, heavy prog and psychedelia to strange yet highly satisfying effect. Seven-strong, Catapilla's line-up featured Robert Calvert(no, not that one; Sax), Hugh Eaglestone(sax), Malcolme Frith(drums), Anna Meek(vocals), Thierry Reinhart(wind instruments), Graham Wilson(guitar) and David Taylor(bass), most of whom would re-appear on the groups second, and final, album 'Changes' a year later. With only four songs, this self-titled effort features a dense, multi-layered sonic tapestry of sounds, falling almost halfway between the jazz-flecked epics of Frank Zappa's more adventurous pieces and the fuzzy jazz-fusion of Nucleus and Soft Machine. The difference, however, are the deliberately manic vocals of Anna Meek, who squawks, sings, screams, howls and hollers her way right through the album in a show of pure, unbridled passion that needs to be heard to be (dis)believed. Of the four tracks - all are great - it is the final, firey epic 'Embryonic Fusion'(what a name) that finds the group at their most adventurous, the bleating saxophones, edgy guitars and skittering drums creating a swirling, almost mystical jazz journey that brings to mind the more eclectic works of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock et al, though with a hard-rock edge that soaks everything with a late-night effect often found in the best of cool jazz. Highly recommended to all fusion fans as well as lovers of classic progressive rock, this debut album is a wonderfully obscure relic from bygone days.


  7. Excellent. This is a real discovery. Haven't heard Naked Death in more than forty years. The rest was complete unknown to me. I'm diving into my memories. No radio station would have played tracks 15 or even 24 minutes long.If you don't had an older brother or friend, who lend you records to tape on a cheap recorder, you would never had a change to listen to complete albums. From my self earned money I was able to buy about five or six albums a year. I spend my money for the then more famous Soft Machine, Caravan, Genesis, van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, Free or Ten Years After.Thank you so muchl for all your efforts to make records like Catapilla available. I beg for more early seventies progressive rock rarities.There is so much to discover, still after more than four decades.
    Uwe from Germany (born 1955)

    1. Congratulations on your good taste, and as for years, and I equally now I enjoy as well as when I was young. How do you stand with the German progressive music of that time?

      PS: If you want, write me at this mail what he would like to have, and I'll send you the links.

      You know, I can not put everything on the blog :). Awaiting your list.
      All the best Uwe.


  8. Chiquilicuatre y ZappaJuly 20, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    Many thanks for the other album in FLAC

  9. What an amzing album, just listened and it completely blew me away! I must have seen this around when it came out, and probably dismissed it because the band had such a silly name. Big mistake, and thanks so much for correcting it!

    Also, thanks for KC - Lizard - this version sounds quite different from my original UK vinyl. Not sure whether or not better, but definitely different.

  10. much music that passed us by, and we were down, constantly looking for new sounds and turning each other on...thank you, peace on earth brother...

  11. A true masterpiece. it is up with Floyds for sure.

  12. hello, vitko, any chance for a re-up here? would like to hear this. if you can't thats fine. thank you, i find such great music here consistently. r. keith noble

  13. I'll try to find time to make a new download link for the weekend.