Cath Carroll was born in Bristol and raised in Swansea, Ipswich and finally, her family hometown of Manchester. In 1979 she joined forces with fellow Mancunian Liz Naylor to form the band Glass Animals in addition to co-editing the infamously vitriolic City Fun fanzine. Although the city then boasted an embarrassment of musical riches - Joy Division, New Order, Factory, Magazine, Buzzcocks - City's Fun's whining pages were loathe to admit this. Only The Fall, The Smiths and Ludus seem ever to have been singled out for praise, with Cath and Liz even managing the latter wayward band for a brief period in 1982/83. In 1980 the Glass Animals changed their name to the Gay Animals and, having worn out their welcome in the north of England, moved to London in 1984. They immediately broke up.
Here Cath embarked on a dual career, writing for the New Musical Express (as Myrna Minkoff) and fronting her band Miaow. The group released their first single, Belle Vue, on their own Venus label in 1985, and in early 1987 their recording When It All Comes Down brought them to the attention of Tony Wilson at Factory. Despite City Fun having made a career out of carping about Factory, the celebrated label released the song as a single and went on to release another, Break the Code. During this time the band were also rewarded with two Peel sessions and appearances on several high-profile compilations, including the seminal C86. Cath also recorded extensively with The Hit Parade, for releases in England and Japan.
Sadly Miaow were destined never to complete their planned Factory album debut, and after several line-up changes finally parted company in 1988. Cath started work on her solo album debut for Factory, England Made Me, in June 1988, and over the next year various sessions were recorded in Sheffield, Sao Paolo, London and Chicago. The title, incidentally, was inspired by the Graham Greene novel about middle-class life during the Depressed 1930s, and the songs largely co-written with Sim Lister. Towards the end of the recording schedule she went to Chicago to record with Steven Albini, whom she had met while working for Big Black's British label, Blast First. Together they contributed a version of King Creole to the NME compilation The Last Temptation of Elvis.
In late 1989, Cath relocated to Chicago and EMM was finally released in June 1991. The set was acclaimed as a sinister collection of moody dance and bizarre bossa nova, and is particularly effective on dance orientated cuts such as Send Me Over, Subtitled and the single Moves Like You. After the collapse of Factory in November 1992 the relative expense of the project (including photo sessions with Robert Mapplethorpe) was cited as a factor in the label's demise, but in truth the album's high budget was only one of a series is fiscal indiscretions by Factory.
Cath's status as an indie cult figure was affirmed by DC band Unrest, who included the quirky tribute Cath Carroll on their 1993 4AD album Perfect Teeth. Main manMark Robinson's appreciation lead to two singles for his Teenbeat label, My Cold Heart and Bad Star, as well as the second Cath Carroll solo album, True Crime Motel, released in 1995. In 1994 Cath began recording with Kerry Kelekovich, a Chicago-based musician and engineer whom she married in 1996. TCM marked a return to guitars, and the album was a critical success, with the word noir frequently aired in describing the shadowy lyrical undertow and understated vocal delivery. However, personnel changes and family health problems meant that touring to promote the set was problematic, and instead Cath and Kerry concentrated on recording a new album.
This became the eponymous Cath Carroll, which appeared in 2000. The pair's first real collaboration, both contributed equally to the writing, while Kerry handled most of the playing. The album appeared on their own Lilypad label (via Chicago-based Heart and Soul), and was described by one reviewer as a blend of Astrud Gilberto and Roxy Music, and by another as a shadowy corner of the adult pop universe.
In 2002 Cath and Kerry completed a new album, The Gondoliers of Ghost Lake. Written and produced in her adopted home town of Chicago, standout tracks include The Divine Miss A (Morrissey meets the Kinks in tribute to transgendered Mancunian), Free (post 60s mystical rock), Man Goes Down the Highway (rarified folk-dub, on the same continuum as Luscious Jackson and Pulsillama) and the infectious Mystified (romping dance-pop with a latin underpin).
In tandem with her musical career, Cath continues to write prose. Her teenage memoir Les Gray's Erection chronicles the horrors of solitary fandom during the teenybop 1970s, and appeared in the anthology Girls, Girls, Girls. In 2000 her critical discography of Tom Waits was published worldwide, and in 2004 her coverage of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours titled, Never Break The Chain (© 2004 Unanimous) was met with excellent reviews from critics and readers alike.
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