Cats Laughing

Another Way to Travel

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Given that four of the members of Cats Laughing later became well-known for folk-fusion, one might expect a hefty dose of neo-Celtic sounds on this disc. One would be wrong from the first note of the first song, the swinging "Bright Street Beachhouse Back in Business Blues." Rocked-up swing tunes would be a big thing almost ten years later, but in 1990 this was not the obvious path to stardom. Nor was it a path that Cats Laughing followed the rest of the way through this album, which boasts sophisticated, complex arrangements of all sorts of music. The band romps through the Caribbean-inflected "See How the Sparrow Flies," blazes through the melodic rock of "For It All," and still manages to keep a sense of character and purpose. There is one traditional English piece, the eerie "Nottamun Town," which cries for a spooky, moody arrangement, but Cats Laughing proves that it can be converted to a burning jazz-rocker and not lose a bit of effect. Later on in the album there are a few cuts that morph into rambling jams à la the Grateful Dead, but even these are done with such energy and style that it's hard to fault them. The original tunes on Another Way to Travel are as inventive as might be expected of a band with two highly original poets and novelists aboard, and the music is astonishingly inventive. Perhaps this band had too many inventive talents to stay together, but it's hard to listen to this disc without a pang of regret that Cats Laughing didn't stay together a while longer and record a few more albums.

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