Jazzy Progressive Rock – dry guitar tones, chunky riffs, mixed with bearded brass bookworms and studied bass players and drummers that played odd timings without a second thought, long jams that hung in the air like sweet smoke and in the case of Catapilla, sporadic interjections from their crazed lead singer, the inappropriately named Anna Meek.
Catapilla didn’t last long only making two albums, self-titled in 1971 and Changes in 1972. Changes were certainly the order of the day, oddly when they formed, Jo Meek was the vocalist but by the time they hit the studio it was sister Anna and her demonic caterwauls at the helm, channelling revelations from beneath the bean bags either side of Robert Calvert’s spiralling saxophone and guitarist Graham Wilson’s fuzzy ramblings. Meek wasn’t quite keeping it together but no one dared tell her for fear of a serious hexing.
The album only has four tracks, the opener Naked Death is nearly 16 minutes long followed by two shorter tracks, Tumbleweed and Promises closing side one. Embryonic Fusion spans the whole of side two at 25 minutes. Although the line up seems secure (or quietly fearful) – drummer Malcolm Frith, bassist Dave Taylor and horn players Hugh Eaglestone and Thierry Rheinardt were all gone by the second album.
I could never recommend this album to anyone but thoroughly enjoy listening to it. Anna Meek’s madness, the players, the sound – I can see the room they’re in, how they’re dressed and I see them cowering in the corner when Anna arrives for fear of being singled out – whatever did happen to Jo? No-one’s seen her for a while. Half of the band quietly disappeared after the first album? Catapilla were in fact discovered and produced by Patrick Meehan, Black Sabbath’s manager before signing to the legendary Vertigo label. One wonders if Anna Meek might have been the apparition on the cover of Black Sabbath’s debut album – or was it Jo’s last known sighting?