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A Brief History

THE BLUE CATS / G MEN / BELTANE FIRE / THE BLUE CATS

We all knew Tony Martin who ran Red Hot Records, that’s how it started for us. He arranged the meeting. Clint Bradley and Mitch Caws met Carlo and Stef Edwards at the St Hellier Arms in south London one morning in early 1980.
From the first chord it clicked, man did it click! Four teenagers full of expectation giving it some in the front room of Stef and Carlo’s place. We put together a set with Clive Osbourne(Rocking Mont Oz) on Sax, to play at our first gig together in Holland, The Eindhoven festival and it ROCKED!

The first gig, Eindhoven festival, Holland 1980

From the start we set about crafting our own identity, The Blue Cats would not be a sound a like band. We would take all the musical influences we had together and create something new. This was far from plain sailing, we had to deal with a lot of opposition in the beginning, but it was our way or nothing. That first gig in Holland was a great kick off.

We wanted to take Rockabilly on to another plain, to pay homage to everything about it we loved but also add the energy and vitality of our own contemporary musical surroundings. The early eighties was an exciting time to be forming a band regardless of what music you were into. The whole post punk thing was happening and new clubs were springing up all over the place.


The Blue Cats - 1980
Within months we had started to build our own following, it was amazing how loyal they became. Remember at that time there was no neo- Rockabilly/Psychobilly scene, what we were trying to do was uncharted territory. Rocking Mont Oz departed just before the release of Wild Night and we became the Quartet that most of you remember.

Helsinki - 1980
The release of ‘Wild Night’ and ‘Fight Back in 1981’ finally established us as an independent force, and we started to get support gigs with bands like The Clash which in turn brought us to the attention of the main stream music press. By the end of 1981 we were headlining our own sell out gigs all over Europe. Then that we started to get interest from major record companies. We could not consider any of the label offers because we were contracted to Rockhouse/Charly, but with the benefit of hindsight maybe that was a good thing. At least it stayed pure.


London 1981


London 1981

London 1981
In April 1981 The Blue Cats, Wild Night, was Single of the week in Sounds.


Another Cafe at 4am - 1981


Single of the week in Sounds 1981
Click image to read the review.

Eindhoven 1981

Fight Back 1981

In the studio with Bert Rockhouse

Italian TV Show 1981
By 1982 we were starting to get creatively frustrated and began locking ourselves away to write and rehearse new materiel. It was around this time that we recorded the G MEN E.P. and played a few low key gigs to try things out.

London 1982

London 1982
"I'm having new drum skins this month, your guitar strings will have to wait."


G-Men gig, London 1982


The G Men 1982
L to R Mitch, Clint, Carlo & Stef

The beginning of 1983 saw us starting to play gigs as BELTANE FIRE. It was at this stage that Tim and Phil Polecat, along with Tim’s Dad Barry came on board as our managers.

The BELTANE FIRE set list consisted of completely new and original songs, the sound we had by then was unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. But Rockabilly was still the base, it was the foundation on which we built the house. We intend to release the demo’s that we recorded during that period in the future, so those who are interested will be able to hear for themselves what it was like before outside influences became involved.


The first BELTANE FIRE photo's 1983

By now we were playing regular gigs at places like Dingwalls and the Rock Garden, the buzz about the band was building at a rapid pace and before long we started to get label offers. By the summer of 1984 a bidding war for ‘Beltane Fire’ was underway. I don’t think any of us would deny that it was exciting to watch the advance offers going up day by day, but we were young and naive and had know idea what life would be like inside a major record company. All it meant for us was the chance to get into a decent studio and record in the way we’d always wanted to. Whether or not signing to a label the size of Sony was a good thing for a band as individual as BELTANE FIRE is debatable. You have to remember that this was the first time we’d ever had the prospect of any real money in front of us. During all our efforts with the ‘Blue Cats’ we’d earned very little, even buying simple bits of equipment to keep us on the road was a struggle. Now all of a sudden people were throwing hundreds of thousands of pounds at us. What this gave to us was the chance to concentrate full time on music rather than shovelling shit on a building site during the week. This game of cat and mouse between the major labels could have gone on for months, the 80’s was the ‘hey day’ of THE DEAL! But we all agreed we’d had enough, and wanted to get on and make the record we had dreamt about for so long. So on the 21st of August 1984 we signed to CBS (SONY) records for more Nelsonics than any of us had ever seen.

Our A&R man, Jack Stevens understood what the band about but we sensed that the rest of the company were scratching their heads as to what to do with us. We confused a lot of people back then, which contrary to the ‘Looking for Something Different’ philosophy that supposedly exists within the music industry, we were just too different! It’s been said since that we were ahead of our time, but the long and short of it is we just didn’t fit in.

The next few months were chequered in terms of morale. The whole process of choosing and recording the songs for the album was at times painful and frustrating, there was a great deal of compromise on DIFFERENT BREED.

 

Click image to read the first review of "Different Breed" in Kerrang.

With the album finished we went back on the road, and started to build a following and a good base for the future. We were at our best live, it was the only way for us to sell ourselves. But Sony were impatient and wanted their investment back quickly, we weren’t given the time we needed to build the name into a serious force. BELTANE FIRE was the kind of band that needed a slow build, if we had been given the time to develop things would have been a lot different today.

Beltane Fire 1983 to 86
The years from 1986 to 89 were a kind of no fixed creative abode. We experimented a lot, but nothing seemed to gel like it had in the past. Then in 1989 we decided to give it one more shot and re locate the band to America. Mitch decided not to come with us and a period in our history ended.
During that year we spent in the USA some of the magic returned. We were now a three piece called ’Flame of The West’, I was on bass and strangely enough we became a unit again. Once more we were on our own without any interference from outside influences. We started to play around Connecticut and then New York; we got a gig at CBGB’s after playing our demo to an A&R man at Geffen records. He liked what he saw and gave us some money for demo time. We got close, but no cigar. Carlo cracked some of the discs in his spine while jumping into a pool and had to return to England for an operation.

Flame of The West 1989/91
Back home we played some gigs around London but just couldn’t seem to get back the momentum we’d had in the USA. When the opportunity to make a new Blue Cats album arose it made a welcome respite from all the doubts and pondering on what lay ahead .By now we had been introduced to the superb bass playing talents of Paul Diffin, ‘Me Laddo’ fitted in a treat and low we were a quartet again.
The writing and recording of The Tunnel was one of the easiest projects we ever undertook together, everything seemed to come together without any effort. Looking back I suppose it was just us doing what came naturally; we had nothing left to prove to anyone we were simply enjoying ourselves. I remember when Carlo and I were working on the songs together; it was such a great vibe to be working on something that we both found so instinctive.
After we’d finished The Tunnel, we did a couple more tours together and had some laughs but we all sensed that a natural end was approaching. There were no cross words or falling out, just a sad feeling that our wonderful journey together was over. In 1993 we shook hands and went off to pursue our own separate projects.

The Tunnel 1992


The Blue Cats 1993


The Blue Cats 1993

So now we fast forward 15 years and a strange set of circumstances see the four of us walk on stage together at Hemsby in May 2008. Without going into too much detail I can tell you that a good deal of soul searching went on before that gig took place. It was a very emotional reunion for us, remember we had not seen or spoken with each other in all that time. But from the first chord at the rehearsal the magic just filled the room, it was as if we had just stepped out for a break in 1993 and walked back into 2008.

Since that gig we have been inundated with requests from fans around the world for more gigs and more materiel, it has been a truly amazing experience to read all your emails and words of encouragement, and we thank you all so very much. Because at the end of the day THE BLUE CATS belong to the fans, we have never been an industry band or part of any particular scene, we are just us, and it is you BLUE CAT people who give us life.

Finland 2009

So where do we go from here? Well for the last year we have been writing together with a view to making a new BLUE CATS album. The vibe between us has been fantastic, there is a freshness and creative buzz within the band that has made us all sit back and think. We are under no illusions, we are not trying to be 21 again but we are a group of musicians who all share a common bond and simply bloody well love playing together. We genuinely feel the THE BLUE CATS have moved into a third stage.

Early in 2011 Clint, Stef, and Carlo met with Steve Whitehouse at arehearsal studio in South London. The first song they played together was ‘GOTTA GO’ it just felt so right, as if they had always been a unit! And behold the present BLUE CATS line up was born. Since then the band have played a list of very successful gigs across Europe. This stage, as with all our others, will be different, but it will contain our soul and our belief and that will make it THE BLUE CATS. With a new album set to be released in late 2012, the BLUE CATS are all systems GO!!!!!!!!

   
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