Print this post Print this post

50 Years of “Cat Food”

705 words

King Crimson’s “Cat Food” was originally released in 1970. It’s a chaotic, piano-centric slice of pop fun that helped cement King Crimson’s image in the eyes of the public as being capable of more than dreary ruminations on dying or losing your mind, as their highly-acclaimed 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King mostly focused on. “Cat Food” broke King Crimson’s own rules in 1970; it was short, at 2 minutes 47 seconds, and it was released as a standalone single with the track “Groon” on the B-side. “Cat Food” was eventually included on the band’s album The Wake of Poseidon, but in an extended and somewhat altered version from the single release.

Lyrically, “Cat Food” is befitting of King Crimson to the extent that one could even call it the typical King Crimson song. On first listen, it’s almost nonsensical; Lake is babbling about grocery stores, women, poison, and cat food, all while Tippett and Fripp work up a jazzy storm on the piano and Mellotron, respectively. A closer inspection is warranted, however; the tale of a grocery store and its ever-so-slightly deranged patrons smacks of the band’s oft-discussed disillusionment with modernity. The song is critical of supermarket culture, describing various convenience food products like canned “hurry-curry” and “miracle sauce” as being nothing more than glorified cat food sold to people too dumb to know any better. Their breakthrough release was characterized by heavy use of melodies and songwriting techniques that date to antiquity, and “Cat Food” only bucks this trend through its self-aware adaptation of new recording technology and more specific metaphors. Court was an apocalyptic drama; “Cat Food” is just the general feeling of malaise someone relatively self-aware feels while waiting in a checkout line.

You can buy Greg Johnson’s The White Nationalist Manifesto here

It’s also worth noting that “Cat Food” likely exists in the form it does out of simple convenience. It was recorded at a tumultuous time for the band; Ian McDonald, Michael Giles, and Greg Lake all departed the band after their North American tour, shortly after this track was written. Fripp, seeking both to experiment and maintain the band as a creative force after losing much of its membership, took up synthesizers, which would feature in later Crimson output and is readily apparent on “Cat Food.” Fripp was able to bring Lake back for vocals, so the final tapestry is one that fuses most of the century’s influences up until the point of recording into a digestible bit of pop fun.

Despite this, “Cat Food” was not destined for commercial success. It briefly charted in Europe, but nowhere else, despite a reunified-for-the-night band putting on a mildly unsettling mimed performance of the track for Top of the Pops:

The 50th-anniversary release of “Cat Food” that was made public today, March 6th, 2020, contains the original track in impeccable quality, a recording of the track from a live performance in Toronto, and the even more experimental “2019” mix of the track, recovered from initial recording sessions in 1969. The original B-Side, “Groon,” is the final track on the extended play. The alternate mix of “Cat Food” features a hotter cut, forays into noise, and a dash more chaos in Tippett’s piano work. Every version of “Cat Food” makes for excellent, smoky listening — it’s the sort of stuff one might expect in the basement clubs of yesteryear when one didn’t have to put on a public face and deal with some kind of ebonics to enjoy a night out.

Nonetheless, there is a sliver of disappointment that tinges this release. Yes, the 50th anniversary of such a unique piece of music is cause celebre. But are we really not writing anything worthy of the same praise in the current year? I would argue that’s not the case, though a large portion of those on the Right would disagree with me, and I certainly understand where they’re coming from. Part of this disillusionment is due to the machine that brings us pop music these days; it’s far more lucrative to devote the industry’s efforts into making mulatto jams for the broadest audience possible.

For the rest of us, re-releases can be trotted out, year after year, until the horse carcass becomes unrecognizable as a horse.

 

4 Comments

  1. Posted March 8, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Excellant review…….i was 14 when this album was released…I do enjoy the cultural posts, more than politics…im a retired Army veteran….today I have my hobbies, antiquarian books, hiking in Montana,photography…i think we can reach the young, by cultural means, more than politics…i spent 10 years in the National Alliance…it was the largest & best organization, at the time….1990s…I have the letter Dr Pierce, tasked me, with re-organizing, Tampa Unit…We had 200 members, & 800 supporters…we provided security for Dr David Duke, when he gave public speeches….

  2. Trevor
    Posted March 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read at least two reviews of King Crimson on this website, and that’s ok, I suppose, but would Weisswald be interested in writing a review of Gentle Giant? To me, as composers and arrangers, Giant’s Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman wrote far more musical and beautifully eccentric tunes than Crimson, all the while sounding, at least some of the time, more truly European and even Nordic than Crimson. (Yes, yes, perhaps the Shulman brothers were half Jews). Anyway, “His Last Voyage” (1975), would be a Giant song to hear.

  3. LineInTheSand
    Posted March 9, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    A White Nationalist website that has articles on art rock? It’s like my own private Counter Currents.

    • LineInTheSand
      Posted March 9, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      An addendum to my earlier post:

      One detail of “Kat Food” that always amused me was that, as Scott notes, the B side to “Kat Food” was called “Groon,” and one of the lyrics in “Kat Food” is:

      Grooning to the muzak from a speaker in shoe rack

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.
 
Comments are moderated. If you don't see your comment, please be patient. If approved, it will appear here soon. Do not post your comment a second time.
 
Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Our Titles

    White Identity Politics

    The World in Flames

    The White Nationalist Manifesto

    From Plato to Postmodernism

    The Gizmo

    Return of the Son of Trevor Lynch's CENSORED Guide to the Movies

    Toward a New Nationalism

    The Smut Book

    The Alternative Right

    My Nationalist Pony

    Dark Right: Batman Viewed From the Right

    The Philatelist

    Novel Folklore

    Confessions of an Anti-Feminist

    East and West

    Though We Be Dead, Yet Our Day Will Come

    White Like You

    The Homo and the Negro, Second Edition

    Numinous Machines

    Venus and Her Thugs

    Cynosura

    North American New Right, vol. 2

    You Asked For It

    More Artists of the Right

    Extremists: Studies in Metapolitics

    Rising

    The Importance of James Bond

    In Defense of Prejudice

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (2nd ed.)

    The Hypocrisies of Heaven

    Waking Up from the American Dream

    Green Nazis in Space!

    Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country

    Heidegger in Chicago

    The End of an Era

    Sexual Utopia in Power

    What is a Rune? & Other Essays

    Son of Trevor Lynch's White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    The Lightning & the Sun

    The Eldritch Evola

    Western Civilization Bites Back

    New Right vs. Old Right

    Lost Violent Souls

    Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations

    The Non-Hindu Indians & Indian Unity

    Baader Meinhof ceramic pistol, Charles Kraaft 2013

    Jonathan Bowden as Dirty Harry

    The Lost Philosopher, Second Expanded Edition

    Trevor Lynch's A White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    And Time Rolls On

    The Homo & the Negro

    Artists of the Right

    North American New Right, Vol. 1

    Some Thoughts on Hitler

    Tikkun Olam and Other Poems

    Under the Nihil

    Summoning the Gods

    Hold Back This Day

    The Columbine Pilgrim

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater

    Taking Our Own Side

    Toward the White Republic

    Distributed Titles

    Reuben

    The Node

    The New Austerities

    Morning Crafts

    The Passing of a Profit & Other Forgotten Stories

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance