Catherine Wheel's debut is an incredible, sadly overlooked statement of noise and beauty. Time has not been fair to this band, who at one time seemed destined for very big things. Where other staples of the shoegaze scene turned off harder-rock listeners by being too inwardly focused, Catherine Wheel always reached for something a little more intense. The vocals were still breathy and ethereal and the guitars gauzy but cathartically loud, but there was something a little more "rock" about them (and this would come to the fore in later albums.) Somehow, however, that combination of sounds was a compromise rather than a blessing, and they've faded from memory of many today.
It's unfortunate that this is the "deluxe edition" we're getting to try and revive those memories. It seems nice on paper - a remastered album with a healthy "six" bonus tracks*, four of which make up the long-lost 30 Century Man EP - but what we get is something that isn't noticeably remastered in any way, and may even seem a bit weaker in sound than the original (it is very, very hard to tell, however - most may not hear it at all,) and what's worse, the bonus tracks may be sourced from vinyl! At least one is, that's for sure, "That's When I Reach For My Revolver," and this track alone is a serious issue because not only can popping and clicking of vinyl be heard in the intro, the track has digital errors at approximately 2'53". It's inexcusable - there was obviously no quality control whatsoever. I've fired off an email to Cherry Red Records asking about corrections to this pressing, but who knows if I'll get an answer. Fix this, and maybe source it from a CD at least (surely a die-hard fan would make a copy for the label, right?) if not the original master(!) and this would be a pretty great re-release.
*I say "six" because Balloon isn't a bonus track on my copy of the original Ferment, and so isn't a bonus to me. Five tracks, however, is still a pretty good number of bonus tracks.