Saint Steven

Band members                              Related acts

- St. Steven (aka Steve Cataldo) - vocals, guitar


  supporting musicians (1969)

- Ian Bruce Douglas -- guitar

- Kerry Frangione -- backing vocals

- Russell George -- bass

- Donald McDonald -- drums, percussion
- Stephen Pinney -- drums, percussion

- Murray Shiffrin (RIP) -- guitar

- Barbara Vanderloop -- backing vocals





- Front Page Review (Steve Cataldo)
- Nervous Eaters (Steve Cataldo)

- The Reflectors (Steve Cataldo)





Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Over the Hills

Company: Probe

Catalog: CPLP-4506

Year: 1969

Country/State: Boston, Massachusetts

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $110.00

Cost: $66.00


Not to be confused with the Ohio-based One St. Steven, this Boston, Massachusetts-based outfit was one of those mystery acts nobody seemed to know all that much about.  While some references refer to it as a band, 1969's "Over the Hills" was actually a one-man show featuring former Front Page Review singer/guitarist Steve Cataldo. Contrary to a lot of references, Cataldo was not a member of Boston's Ultimate Spinach, rather worked with Ian Bruce Douglas in a pre-Ultimate Spinach outfit called The Underground Cinema. 


As Cataldo tells the story, he sold his guitar and bought a bus ticket to New York City where a got a hotel room and then walked around to every record label he could find.  It wasn't until he visited ABC that anyone even paid attention to him.  His break came when producer John Turner  took pity on Cataldo and agreed to take a listen to his reel-to-reel demo tape.  Impressed by what he heard, Turner signed him to a contract with the company's newly formed Probe subsidiary.  Turner was also responsible for the "Saint Steven" moniker.  Even more impressive was the fact Cataldo was 19 when he recorded this album. 

It's easy to understand the confusion since the album was credited to "Saint Steven", while the thirteen tracks are credited to 'St. Steven'.  Probe Records added to the confusion by marketing the single 'Ay-Aye-Poe-Day' under the 'St. Steven' nameplate.  Produced by Turner, the album was apparently intended as a concept piece.  Side one was label 'Over the Hills' while side two was entitled 'Batisch'.  I had to look the word up as I had never encountered it - referring to an obnoxious or contemptible person; reflecting a combination of the words 'Bastard' and 'Bitch'.  If it was a concept piece I have to readily admit I've never figured out the plotline.  If anyone knows the story, pass it on.  And while I've always enjoyed the album, I've got to be honest and admit its biggest challenge was inconsistency.  Exemplified by the pretty title track and the ballad 'Grey Skies' about a third of the set reflected commercial folk-rock moves.  Backed by an array of un-credited New York studio musicians, the single 'Ay-Aye-Poe-Day', 'Voyage To Cleveland' and 'Sun In the Flame' were more conventional rock oriented numbers providing most of the album highlights.  'Animal Hall' and 'Poor Small' offered up more experimental moves, with lots of period sound effects.  In spite of the lack of focus Cataldo was a more than decent singer and capable of writing attractive and quite commercial material.  Shame he didn't ditch some of the experimentation and extend some of the more conventional rockers.  Tracks like 'Bright Lights' were just too short.  And most of those criticisms are muted when I remember the guy was 19 years old when he recorded the album.  Geez, what did I accomplish when I was 19, or 29, or 39 ....

"Over the Hills" track listing:
(side 1) aka "Over the Hills"

1.) Over the Hills (St. Steven) - 0:40 rating: *** stars

The title track was little more than a sound clip rather than a true composition, but ... well it was pleasant.
2.) Animal Hall (St. Steven) - 2:50 
rating: *** stars

In spite of the background sound effects which angry crowds, trumpeting elephants, goats, stampeding horses, martial drums and other sound effects, 'Animal Hall' was surprisingly commercial, aptly showcasing Cataldo's likeable voice. Hell if I have a clue what it was about.
3.) Gladacadova (St. Steven) - 2:12
  rating: **** stars

'Gladacadova' (as far as I know it isn't a word), found Cataldo adding more sound effects including an un-credited Robert Moog on synthesizer, a modest "English" flavor and a ripping guitar solo to what was another nice pop song.   
4.) Poor Small (St. Steven) - 2:41
rating: ** stars

The spoken word segments captured the 1968 Republican National Convention voting for their Presidential candidate.  To be honest, it basically made it impossible to focus on the music that made up 'Poor Small'.  Once again I was left clueless with respect to the point Cataldo was trying to make, other than the Republicans running the 1968 RNC were apparently senile.
5.) Ay-Aye-Poe-Day (St. Steven) - 3:25
  rating: **** stars

'Ay-Aye-Poe-Day' finally delivered a complete song - in this case a tasty garage rocker.  No irritating studio effects; not background noises; just Cataldo and a hot band screeching their way through a song that would have sounded great on FM radio had anyone been paying attention.  





- 1969's 'Ay-Aye-Poe-Day' b/w 'Grey Skies' (Probe catalog number CP-45-463)






6.) Grey Skies (St. Steven) - 2:51 rating: *** stars

Opening up with some lovely acoustic guitar, 'Grey Skies' was the album's prettiest performance.  Bucolic - even when the rest of the band kicks in I can feel my blood pressure dropping a couple of points.
7.) Over the Hills (St. Steven) - 1:00
rating: *** stars

The title track refrain ...  I've always wondered why the song was haphazardly split into two when it would have been much better as a single entity.



(side 2) aka "The Batisch"
1.) Bastich 1 (St. Steven) - 2:30
rating: *** stars

Kettle drums ?  Angelic chorus ?  Certainly not what I was expecting.  Unexpectedly about half way through the song suddenly morphed into a nifty rocker complete with treated vocals and some soaring, melodic lead guitar.  Shame it faded out so soon. 
2.) Voyage To Cleveland (St. Steven) - 2:50
rating: *** stars

Hum, 'Voyage To Cleveland' made me wonder of Cataldo had overdosed on Donovan albums. Not sure who provided the lead guitar, but I've always loved the tone he got out of his instrument.
3.) Sun In the Flame (St. Steven) - 2:30
rating: **** stars

To my ears Cataldo was at his best when playing it relatively straightforward and 'Sun In the Flame' was one of the highlights.  Again, not sure who provided the fuzz guitar, but it was excellent.  This would have been a great choice for an FM single.
4.) Bright Lights (St. Steven) - 1:00
rating: *** stars

The atmospheric, jazzy ballad 'Bright Lights' was one of my favorites, but clocking it at a minute the song was just too short.  Docked a star for its brevity.
5.) Louisiana Home (St. Steven) - 2:51
rating: ** stars

To my ears the country-tinged 'Louisiana Home' sounded completely out of place on this album.  
6.) Bastich II (St. Steven) - 1:05
rating: *** stars
Picking up where 'Bastich I' ended, the album ended with what was essentially a meltdown guitar solo.  All I can say is it was unfortunate this one was divided as it would have been far stronger as a unified composition.

In the mid-'70s Cataldo reappeared fronting The Nervous Eaters.  (2) Nervous Eaters | Facebook


Cataldo also has a Facebook page at: (2) Steve Cataldo | Facebook