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Gillian Fish reflects on the career of Britpop band Cast, whose four first albums are about to be re-rleased in double CD editions
Formed in Liverpool in 1992 by previous members of the LA’s (John Power) and Shack (Pete Wilkinson), Cast are the latest band to re -release their back catalogue. It consists of their four original albums, and they all come with special deluxe features. The first three CDs appear as a two CD/DVD set, and the fourth‘Beetroot’ as a CD/DVD package. All the albums have the inclusion of live tracks, B-Sides and previously unheard interviews with front man Power; they retain all of the original artwork.
Pioneers of the Britpop movement during the 1990’s their debut album ‘All Change’ was released in 1995. It had a distinctly psychedelic sound that showed the bands 60’s influences. In fact many labelled them the Who of the 90’s. The album went on to become record label Polydor’s best selling album. Debut single ‘Finetime’, a slice of pop that sounds just as good and relevant today, was followed with the memorable ‘Alright’. The album also features the ballad ‘Walkaway’ – the song became the soundtrack to many Liverpool Football Club and England cup exits during the 90’s (Euro 96 anyone?...) and it still manages to tug on the heartstrings just as much now.
Cast’s second album ‘Mother Nature Calls’ (1997) had a more bluesy, melancholy feel. It features three top ten singles including ‘Free Me’, ‘Guiding Star’ and ‘Live The Dream’. Although this album received more of a mixed reaction from the music press than their first album – perhaps due to it not being as pop-orientated as ‘All Change’ – the band’s fan base loved it though, and many of the songs from the album such as the stunning ‘I’m So Lonely’ should be noted as some of Cast’s best work.
By the time the band released their third album in 1999 Britpop was coming towards the end of its heyday with many of Cast’s contemporaries such as Kula Shaker and Shed Seven having already split. ‘Magic Hour’ had a much heavier riff-based sound. ‘Beat Mama’ was the lead single from the record, but it was the only one to really make a mark. At the time of its release in 2001, Cast’s fourth album ‘Beetroot’ (their last until they reformed a decade later) was considered a huge departure from their earlier material. Funkier and combining more unusual mixes and electronic sounds, it wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but, however, revisiting it now it is actually a good listen and, although different from their other albums, it still shows Power’s great song writing abilities.
Cast remain one of the most memorable bands of the Britpop era. It is great to re-discover them now particularly at a time when many bands are being influenced by both 90’s Britpop and psychedelia.