Blues rocker Bob “Catfish” Hodge grew up in Detroit, where he formed his first group while still at school. The city became world famous via the success of Motown, which inspired many young Detroiters, both black and white, to take up music as a career. In the late 60s Hodge founded the band Catfish. Emerging from a rock scene which starred the Stooges and the MC5, they recorded two LPs for Epic, neither of which sold well.
Hodge then self-released his first solo album, before moving to London to write some songs, hoping to become the next James Taylor. Instead he penned ‘Boogie Man’ and headed back to Detroit to get a record deal. Forming a new band, he went to see Westbound Records’ Armen Boladian, who invited George Clinton and Calvin Simon of Funkadelic to see them play.
Within weeks Hodge and his band were recording their first album, produced by Simon at Manta Studios in Toronto at the same time Funkadelic were making “America Eats Its Young”. A mix of boogie rock and soulful horns, “Boogie Man Gonna Get Ya” sold well and picked up good radio plays. A second album, “Dinosaurs And Alley Cats”, had a more laidback feel, most notably on ‘Circus Is In Town’.
Hodge then moved to Virginia, where he met Bonnie Raitt and played on many bills with her. Recorded in Los Angeles, his next album, “Soap Opera’s” (sic), was his most complex and featured a stellar line-up that included Raitt, Dr John, Birtha’s Rosemary Burton and the Flying Burrito Brothers’ Sneaky Pete Kleinlow.
Long out of print, this 2CD set brings together Hodge’s three Westbound and Eastbound albums, a handful of out-takes and a long-forgotten B-side. When we discussed this reissue, he was cheerful and happy with his past. When asked to look back on this period he said simply, “It was a very good time in my journey through life. It gave me a wonderful opportunity at the time when I was ready and able to take it.”
By Dean Rudland