Love at first sound, that’s what it was. The riff that literally tumbled out of the speakers and then that voice. I knew I’d accidentally discovered one of music’s great lost groups and they spoke to me in a way that very few bands did. This wasn’t a passing phase or a temporary thing either, as the second track matched the first and featured a skyscraping Zeppelinesque riff which sounded like it was being played on a mountain top. There was no doubt about it, I was meant to find this band.
It’s tragic to reflect on the fact that Asquarius barely scraped into the charts on its release and it remains Cud’s commercial peak, especially when there were lesser contemporary guitar bands selling albums by the warehouse. Sadly Cud just didn’t get the breaks. Despite being signed to A&M they barely received any promotion or radio play, which given the sad turn that British guitar music was about to make is a senseless tragedy.
Never mind, they still had the songs, something displayed by the fact that there is not one weak track on Asquarius. The opening double whammy of “Rich And Strange” and “Easy” set the mood for the album, this was going to be a rock album with big guitars, big choruses, smart lyrics and above all else a sense of fun. It even closed with a track called “No Smoking”, possibly the greatest anti-nicotine song ever (okay, possibly the only anti nicotine song ever).
Rich and Strange
Thinking back to 90s British guitar acts, I can’t name one band that were tighter than Cud. Musically they were something really rather special, the sound of Led Zeppelin being fronted by a power-house vocalist who sounded nothing like Robert Plant. But you know, still cool. If Cud had received the breaks they had deserved they would have bestrode 90s guitar-rock like big fuzzy colossi. Brit-pop would have been little more than the minor cultural blip that it should have been as my generation would have had a much better time with Cud as the cultural heroes of the day.
Asquarius is a rare example of an album where each individual member of the band reached the peak of their power simultaneously. By this point in their career Carl Puttnam had really found his feet as a vocalist, Mike Dunphy was now a certified riff-monster, William Potter had become funky and Steve Goodwin was now inarguably infamous. This resulted in one of the finest albums of the 90s, but also one that was unfairly obscured by lesser talents that were nevertheless seen as rising stars.
A few years ago they finally re-released and remastered this obscure classic – So now it revels in a successful sonic upgrade, a bundle of bonus tracks, generous liner-notes and still retains the artwork of ‘other albums by Cud’, namely Donkey With a Fez On, Capricorn on the Cob and the brilliantly named Ignore the Hobbit and though my enthusiasm for this album never waned, I’ve fallen in love with it all over again – I guess it’s the equivalent of enjoying a second honeymoon with your favourite album.Perhaps you’ll hear this album and wonder what the hell I’m raving on about, perhaps it’s been gathering dust on one of your shelves and you’re about to be reunited with an old friend, or maybe it just might change your life. With this remastered version now easy to come by at a not unreasonable price, this is the ideal place for the curious to start. That said, it seems doubtful that Cud’s contribution to our musical tapestry will ever be properly reassessed, which really is a senseless tragedy. The world needs more bands who forget all notions of cool and play great music just for the love of playing great music.