Catfish – Broken Man
CD: 10 Songs, 58:39 Minutes
Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
Why do so many people nowadays, myself included, prefer Monster, Rockstar, and Red Bull to nutritionists’ favorite beverage? My answer: Water’s healthy, but it doesn’t give you wings. The UK blues rock band Catfish does, however. Their latest album, Broken Man, is like a cocktail of all three of these energy drinks combined. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but boy howdy, the guitar work here will give listeners a bigger jolt than – well, Jolt Cola. It’s best heard on a big stereo system with even bigger speakers. Intensity is the name of the game: even on their slow songs, the band’s fervor never lets up. They channel Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Too Slim and the Taildraggers, and even a bit of Rod Stewart and Bob Marley on “Better Days” (reviewed below). Vocally, Long splits the difference between talk-singing and note-singing, putting his best foot forward on “Part as Strangers” – a danceable breakup song. Almost all ten tracks are originals, with the fourteen-minute “Make It Rain” by Foy Vance closing the CD’s repertoire.
In the “What’s New?” paragraph on their website, Catfish reveals that they’ve been selected as one of only five bands to represent the country at the UK Blues Challenge in September. The winner will go on to take part in the US’ International Blues Challenge. Broken Man was voted Album of the Year in 2017 by the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association, and the band itself was named Blues Act of the Year (England) in this year’s UK Blues Awards.
Catfish consists of Matthew Long on guitar and lead vocals; Paul Long on keyboards and lead vocals; Dusty Bones on bass, and Kevin Yates on drums. Special guests include Paul Jones on harmonica for track seven and Hollie Rogers on background vocals.
The following three tunes pack the most punch, even though the last one’s a slow burner.
Track 01: “Hit the Ground Running” – Do they ever! With a rockin’ intro that would make Mr. Tim Langford (Too Slim of Too Slim and the Taildraggers) proud, they go all out. “You best get out of my way,” Matthew Long warns. “I hit the ground running.” This is a great opener, setting the bar as high as the ceiling (or the sky, depending on the venue) for the rest of the CD. One feature you might miss among all the shredder fireworks is Paul Long’s eerie, keening keys.
Track 06: “Better Days” – Time to do some jammin’ and get on your feet to a reggae beat. Current times may be bleak, but rest assured: sunnier ones are on the way. The harmony on the chorus here is beautiful and inspiring, a surefire hook for crowds. “Won’t you dry those tears, honey? You’ve got your whole life ahead of you,” Long says, and everyone, old or young, will be lifted. Paul Long provides not only kicking organ keyboards, but lusty lead vocals.
Track 07: “Part as Strangers” – Unfortunately, some things, like romantic relationships, don’t weather the test of time, and don’t mention a certain “zone.” “People part as strangers every day,” Matthew Long croons, his voice surprisingly poignant in the middle of this blues-rock fest. Haunting harmonica is provided by guest star Paul Jones.
Need some energy? Broken Man will give you more than all the faddish drinks combined!