Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1987-90)
- Susie Hug -- vocals
- Dan James -- acoustic guitar
- Dave Hunter -- bass
- Adam Seymour -- lead guitar
- Shane Young -- drums, percussion
- C.C. Sager (Dave Hunter)
- Susie Hug (solo efforts)
- The Pretenders (Adam Seymour)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: The Katydids
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: sealed copy
Catalog ID: 3264
I remember a friend telling me The Katydids were English. I was dumbfounded. I would have sworn they were from Southern California. Their sound just seemed so laidback and California-esque. How could these guys have been English? And when the stunning Susan Hug sang, it was without any trace of an accent. Well, as it turned out, she was actually born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Southern California. If I had to guess, I'd say she was born into a Navy family.
The Katydids formed in London when singer Susan Hug started working with guitarist (and Hug's future husband) Andy Seymour. After undergoing various line-up changes, by 1989 the band solidified around Hug, Seymour, bassist David Hunter, guitarist Dan James, and drummer Shane Young. The group attracted considerable attention from the English music media, and in 1989 were signed by Reprise.
Featuring eleven Hug and Seymour originals, 1990's "The Katydids" teamed the band with producer Nick Lowe. Musically the set offered up a stellar collection that effortlessly blended '60s pop influences with an '80s edge. Hug had a wonderful voice that occasionally reminded me of Natalie Merchant, Susanna Hoffs, Andrea Coor, or perhaps The Go-Gos Charlotte Caffey on more up-tempo tracks like 'Chains of Devotion'. The rest of the band provided tight backing with Seymour repeatedly showcasing a knack for showing that less could be more. His solos were always concise, too-the-point, and memorable. Check out his work on the rocker 'Miss Misery'. This was one of those albums that was good from start to finish, with virtually every track having something to warrant repeated spins. Highlights included the opening rocker 'Heavy Weather Traffic', 'King of the World', and the sweet ballad 'Growing Old' (with half the lyrics sung in Japanese). By the way, the fact the album did little commercially may have been a reflection of the bizarre cover photo (were they supposed to look like a bunch of lost pilgrims?), or the large number of talented early-'90s bands, crowding the marketplace as opposed to any shortcomings on the album itself.
Katydids" track listing:
1.) Heavy Weather Traffic (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:26 rating: **** stars
Wow, talk about a song that flashes me back to a particular time in my life ... I remember having separated from my first wife, trying to raise my young son as a single dad and hearing the shimmering jangle rocker 'Heavy Weather Traffic' on my local radio stations and thinking that these guys had been listening to more than their share of REM and Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs. That wasn't a problem for me since I loved both of those and thought Susie Hug had one of the sexiest voices on radio. It was just one of those radio-perfect slices of jangle-rock pop. It also stands out in my mind because I had a friend who somehow got hold of a CD format promo single of the tune.
- 1990's 'Heavy Weather Traffic' (Reprise catalog number PRO-CD-4094)
2.) Stop Start - 3:27 (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) rating: **** stars
'Stop Start' was another slice of glistening jangle-rock, though this time out the band included a slight dollop of country-rock in the mix. The harmonies were to die-for-gorgeous.
3.) Girl In a Jigsaw Puzzle (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:46
Their debut UK single, imagine The Coors without the Irish tinges and you'd get a feel for the bouncy, radio-ready 'Girl Ina Jigsaw Puzzle'. Always loved Seymour's solo on this one. Darn if Hug had any sort of accent. YouTube has the song's promotional video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBbpbAJumog
- 1989's 'Girl In a Jigsaw Puzzle' b/w 'Space Where Love Was' (Reprise catalog number W 9758)
- 1989's 'Girl In a Jigsaw Puzzle' b/w 'Space Where Love Was' and 'Girl In a Jigsaw Puzzle' Japanese version) (Reprise catalog number W9758T)
4.) All About Me (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:12
5.) What Will the Angels Say (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 4:04 rating: *** stars
As much as I loved Hug's multi-tracked voice, I found the ballad 'What Will the Angels Say' kind of bland and forgettable. Sure it was pretty in a film soundtrack fashion, but other than the stuttering refrain, there wasn't a great deal to latch on to.
1.) Lights Out (Read My Lips) (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 2:04 rating: **** stars
Their second single and what was probably the album's most straightforward pop-oriented track. Jangle guitar galore and with a wonderfully cheesy promo video (Hug shaking some of the meanest maracas you'll ever see), it was hard to fathom why this didn't turn them into massive stars. There's an acoustic version of the song that's almost as impressive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIZh8c7Q4Pg
US maxi single (Reprise catalog number 9 21732-2)
- Lights Out (Read My Lips)
- Another August Night
- Lights Out (Read My Lips) (acustic version)
- 1990's 'Lights Out (Read My Lips)' b/w 'Disappointed' (Warner Brothers catalog number W9852)
2.) Miss Misery (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:26 rating: **** stars
Seymour was a first-rate, if continually overlooked guitarist whose only flaw was being in a band where Hug's vocals (and other attributes), routinely grabbed the spotlight. That said, he seldom sounded as good as on the blistering 'Miss Misery'. His church bell tone was simply killer. Another track that should have been released as a single.
3.) King of the World (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:42 rating: **** stars
Built on an insidiously addictive guitar figure and a melody that wormed its way into your head and wouldn't leave, 'King of the World' was easily my favorite song on the album.
4.) Chains of Devotion (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:46 rating; *** stars
Hum, did I detect a touch of The Go-Gos on this bubbly track ...
5.) Dr. Rey (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 3:48 rating: **** stars
'Dr. Ray' was the album's most rock-oriented tune ... always wondered what it was about.
6.) Growing Old (Susan Hug - Adam Seymour) - 2:10 rating: **** stars
Maybe because the song started out with rather pedestrian, acoustic guitar melody, the thoughtful lyrics caught my attention ... and when Hug started singing in Japanese ... what the world? Add in the angelic harmonies and this was a wonderful way to close the album.
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