The Blue Cats, Where did they go wrong?

The story begins in 1977, when Carlo Edwards joined rockabilly band The South Rebels, as lead guitarist, along with brother Stef on drums. Some time during 1978, Carlo left the Rebs and joined Shazam, one of the better rockabilly bands. By late 1978 Carlo left Shazam and casual conversation elicited the information that he was now working in another group "The Blue Cat Trio", with brother Stef drumming and a vocalist, Dave Phillips, doubling on upright bass.

The Blue Cat Trio were building a reputation and following, gigs were beginning to pour in. The trio secured an audition for Jack Good's revived 'Oh Boy!' series (for which they recorded some shows in August 1980) and the band signed to Rockhouse Records of Holland. But on September 19, 1980, Dave Phillips left the group, resulting in a trio of drummer, guitarist and 'guest' saxophonist Clive Osborne. With the first Rockhouse album already recorded and an important promotional gig lined up for October 3, the Blue Cat Trio were in a fix...

Some time in late 1979, the phone rattled at Tony Martin's office and a voice at the other end said: "Are you Tony Marhtn? Are you recordin' any bhands? Oi got a bhand!". Such was the introduction to Clint Bradley, then leading Little Tony and The Tennessee Rebels. Clint had been singing with and fronting bands since 1977, when he started with The Chevys, then there was Warpath and in 1978, Rockabilly Fever, which evolved into Little Tony and The Tennessee Rebels. After talking with the rest of the band - Bruce 'Hog' Hobbs, lead guitar, Mitch Caws, electric and upright bass and Danny Kelly, drums - and discussing recording, they booked into the Frog studio on January 13, 1980. In a very short while, the boys laid down a prodigous number of tracks, mostly in one take, fairly evenly split between rock'n'roll and rockabilly, electric bass and slap bass. More than a few of the songs were Bradley originals.

Meanwhile, the Blue Cat Trio were still minus a singer and bass player. Carlo offered his vocal talents, but they were still stuck for a slap-bass man. And that's where Tony Martin connected Mitch and Clint with The Blue Cat Trio. On September 28, 1980, Carlo, Stef, Mitch and Clint got together for a front room rehearsal, kicking off with "Slap That Bass", by the end of which they knew they'd cracked it. Within days, all five (let's not forget Clive) were on their way to Holland, where it was decided that the Trio tag should be dropped, so was born The Blue Cats.

Dates and gigs began pouring in, then about three weeks before the groups' first Finnish tour in 1981, Clive left to join The Dynamite Band. 1981 was a very busy year for the Blue Cats, recording the second album and gig-wise, peaking with an Italian tour, during which they made no less than twelve TV appearances. Work was still coming in, but everyone came to realise that the Blue Cats, as a band, were less than happy. One reason put forward was the lack of acceptance by audiences of material that didn't fit very narrow rockabilly confines and any musician worth calling such will tell you that he wants to stretch, push and experiment a little, live and in the studio. By June, 1982, apathy had a firm hold, the Blue Cats had virtually finished with live dates and to all intents and purposes, they disbanded.

Carlo, Stef, Mitch and Clint still socialise and blow together and there's the threat of them working as a unit and recording, but it won't be as a rockabilly band. If ever a band flattered to deceive, it must have been the Blue Cats. Arguably the best ever British rockabilly band, with good press, television, a top agency deal, regular work at home and abroad ... where did they go wrong?

From Early Days Liner Notes, Tony Martin 1983.

Review by Memphis Mike: Best Dawn Yet

Review by Memphis Mike: Billy Ruffians

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