The Family Cat

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The Family Cat
OriginStoke Newington, London, England
GenresGarage punk, indie rock, garage rock
Years active1988–1995
LabelsBad Girl, Dedicated Records, RCA
MembersPaul Frederick
John Graves
Kev Downing
Tim McVay
Steve Jelbert

The Family Cat were a British independent band, formed in Stoke Newington, London in 1988. Three members were originally from Cornwall, one from Plymouth and one from Southampton.


The band played live for five years and recorded three albums, the mini-album Tell 'Em We're Surfin', (produced by The Jam's drummer Rick Buckler) released on South London independent label Bad Girl Records, and its full-length follow-ups, Furthest from the Sun and Magic Happens, released by Dedicated Records. The band never quite capitalised on the momentum generated by the success of debut single "Tom Verlaine", which was named 'Single of the Week' by the NME,[1] although the band's final LP, Magic Happens entered the lower reaches of the UK Albums Chart and "Airplane Gardens", lasted for one week in the UK Singles Chart. The Family Cat placed several singles on the UK Indie Chart including "Steamroller".

Between 1989 and 1992, the band recorded three Peel Sessions at Maida Vale Studios, and were included in John Peel's Festive Fifty in 1989.[2]

They also grabbed headlines by naming one of their songs "Bring Me the Head of Michael Portillo". Their music was melodic and radio friendly, but in spite of critical acclaim the band were unable to reach the heights of Britpop acts Oasis and Blur.

Amongst their cover versions were The Beatles' "Across the Universe", The Rolling Stones' "Rocks Off" and Scott Walker's "Montague Terrace (in Blue)".

In 2013, Five Lives Left, an anthology features four songs from the album that the band started working on but never released, was released on 3 Loop Music.[3]




Year Album Billboard 200 UK Albums Chart[4] Top Digital Albums UK Indie Chart[5] Label
1989 Tell 'Em We're Surfin - - - 6 Badgirl
1992 Furthest from the Sun - 55 - Dedicated Records
1994 Magic Happens - 84 -
2013 Five Lives Left (An Anthology) - - - 3 Loop Music


  • "Tom Verlaine" (1989) Bad Girl (7-inch flexi-disc/12-inch) (UK Indie No. 6)[5]
  • "Remember What It Is that You Love" (1990) Bad Girl
  • "Place With a Name" (1990) Bad Girl
  • "Colour Me Grey" (1991) Bad Girl
  • "Jesus Christ" (1991) Clawfist
  • "Steamroller" (1992) Dedicated
  • "River of Diamonds" (1992) Dedicated
  • "Airplane Gardens" (1993) Dedicated (UK No. 69)[1]
  • "Springing the Atom" (1993) Dedicated
  • "Wonderful Excuse" (1994) Dedicated/RCA (UK No. 48)[1]
  • Goldenbook EP (1994) Dedicated/RCA (UK No. 42)[1][4]

After The Family Cat[edit]

Steve Jelbert is an arts review writer for The Independent.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 0-86241-913-1.
  2. ^ "Radio 1 – Keeping it Peel – Artist A-Z", BBC. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  3. ^ "The Family Cat - Five Lives Left". 3Loop Music. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 194. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ a b Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.
  6. ^ "Steve Jelbert". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2021.