It was the autumn of 1987, and I was going through the worst break-up of my life, so I decided to use my KFSR guest list privilege and go see a band called London Down play at the Oly Tavern. I don’t remember anything about them – and the internet is of no help whatsoever – but opening the bill was a San Francisco band called The Cat Heads, whose debut album Hubba! had been floating around the radio station for a couple of weeks.
However, I hadn’t played anything from
Hubba! – even in 1987 there was an overwhelming amount of music to discover – so I didn’t know anything about The Cat Heads. Which made it that much better when I was totally and utterly blown away. As far as I was concerned, this was the first band I’d seen that reminded me of The Replacements: cocky and ragged and fun and sloppy and able to turn on a dime and break your heart while punching you in the face in order to steal that dime for a phone call.
So naturally, I immediately bought Hubba! and fell in love. What’s not to love: everybody wrote and sang: you never knew where the next song was coming from or what kind of song it would be. And while none of them were as good at songwriting as Paul Westerberg – because c’mon – the ragged rock ‘n’ roll spirit that I loved then and love now powered every single song on the record.
Like “Victim,” which is probably bassist Alan Korn’s punk rock ode to S&M or something, but I’ve literally spent the last 28 years grooving on Melanie Clarin’s big beat and the twin guitars of Mark Zanandrea & Sam Babbit crawling up and down the track and not really paying attention to the words.
Well, except for the last chorus,
I don’t wanna cause no friction
But I’m just dying to be your victim
which has always reminded me of the Television song “Friction” despite having nothing whatsoever to do with it.
I guess that everybody has to have an obscure band that they love and can’t understand why that band is so obscure in the first place. And The Cat Heads are mine.
Fan-made video for “Victim”
“Victim” performed live at the Cat Heads reunion in San Francisco, 2006