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Cass Lewis, Skunk Anansie


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Warning - this is a bit of a gush!

 

If anyone's still trying to sift decent bits out of Glastonbury, please just fast forward to Skunk Anansie. Not simply a cracking British hard rocks band, but a highly talented set of folks with some real style IMO.

 

I saw them last Sunday (for probably 3rd or 4th time) at the Engine Rooms in Southampton. It's a shed but really excellent to see a big band in such a modest venue.

 

Cass Lewis is a very cool dude. All the Skunk material is peppered with compelling bass work and some outstanding grooves. But when you see him live it's even more impressive because he pulls off serious techniques with aplomb. It was a brilliant gig!

 

Add to this the fact that he's clearly a smashing and humble bloke who I got to meet after the show. OK, this is hero-worship but imagine if all our favourite bass players were this cool with the fans?

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I'm not really a fan of Skunk Anansie, but about 30 years ago I was looking around the Bass Centre and Cass Lewis was trying out the new TE gear that had just come in. I was blown away by his playing. I'd never heard someone that good. I managed to overrun my lunch hour by an hour just listening to him playing.

Edited by chris_b
spelling, as usual
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I saw him in 2003 when he was playing with Gary Moore, and he was really good. Anyone who can keep their part of a classic rock three-piece absolutely solid and never let the bottom drop out of the sound gets my vote. He's on the Gary Moore - Live at the Monsters of Rock video, which was filmed in Sheffield at the show I saw. Will have a look at the Skunk Anansie set while it's on iPlayer - I don't really know much of their material but always thought Skin had a cool voice.

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1 hour ago, Ed_S said:

I saw him in 2003 when he was playing with Gary Moore, and he was really good. Anyone who can keep their part of a classic rock three-piece absolutely solid and never let the bottom drop out of the sound gets my vote. He's on the Gary Moore - Live at the Monsters of Rock video, which was filmed in Sheffield at the show I saw. Will have a look at the Skunk Anansie set while it's on iPlayer - I don't really know much of their material but always thought Skin had a cool voice.

I was at that Sheffield gig - Gary’s rig cut out at one point and he nodded to Cass who then almost destroyed the entire building with some ridiculously huge bass sounds.

 

He’s my favourite player - effortlessly cool, clearly a lovely guy and an impeccable live groove. Love Skunk Anansie live, still the best band I’ve seen I think. Bet the Engine Rooms was a special place to see them :)

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1 hour ago, Merton said:

I was at that Sheffield gig - Gary’s rig cut out at one point and he nodded to Cass who then almost destroyed the entire building with some ridiculously huge bass sounds.

 

He’s my favourite player - effortlessly cool, clearly a lovely guy and an impeccable live groove. Love Skunk Anansie live, still the best band I’ve seen I think. Bet the Engine Rooms was a special place to see them :)

 

Good memory - he did have a bit of a malfunction didn't he! I think I was still getting over seeing Y&T for the first time at that point. But aye, that funky little repeated lick that Cass plays on Stand Up - simple but serves the song so well.

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I've seen them a few times over the years, was a big fan in their very early days and saw them at King Tut's in Glasgow in (I think) 1995, and chatted to Cass for a bit after the gig. Phenomenal player and a thoroughly lovely human being. Back then he was still 'that guy out of Terence Trent D'Arby's band'!

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5 hours ago, chaypup said:

Love his Alusonic with the red strings - very cool!

Thanks for solving that mystery. I stared at it all night but could not figure out the make. He used a fancy 5-string too which also baffled me. 

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8 minutes ago, bigjimmyc said:

Thanks for solving that mystery. I stared at it all night but could not figure out the make. He used a fancy 5-string too which also baffled me. 

Think that will be Alusonic too

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2 hours ago, Merton said:

I was at that Sheffield gig - Gary’s rig cut out at one point and he nodded to Cass who then almost destroyed the entire building with some ridiculously huge bass sounds.

 

He’s my favourite player - effortlessly cool, clearly a lovely guy and an impeccable live groove. Love Skunk Anansie live, still the best band I’ve seen I think. Bet the Engine Rooms was a special place to see them :)

Yeah it is a good spot. My first time there and darn convenient!
It might be my age, but even with ear protection it was deafening. The same PA could have done any indoor venue in the country. 

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I caught them about a week before Glasto at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank and they were excellent then too. Cass sounded huge and he seemed like a really nice bloke.

 

Half way through the second song, Mark somehow broke the skin of his bass drum. Fair play to him, he didn't drop a beat though and just signaled to their tech, who rushed on and took the drum away to replace the skin. He carried on using his floor toms for the boomier bits and the band jammed until the drum was back in place and good to go. I think that's the only time I've ever seen a drummer break a bass drum skin (unless you're including Keith Moon playing with explosives!).

 

I was a bit skeptical about seeing them at a seated venue, but as soon as they came on stage everyone stood up. At the end Skin remarked that they were nervous about the venue too, but they were happy that no one knew how to use seats 😂

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I adore Skunk Anansie, though I have never had the good fortune of seeing them live. I was particularly gutted to miss them supporting Motörhead in Norwich way back.

 

If they’re “not quite” your thing, then I would highly recommend trying their “An Acoustic Skunk Anansie - Live In London”. A fresh take on some brilliant songs. You can find the gig on YouTube.

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22 hours ago, chaypup said:

Love his Alusonic with the red strings - very cool!

For Alusonic fans and those not familiar with Skunks or Cass, check this out... the first riff is from "I can dream", off Paranoid & Sunburnt, 1995.

 

 

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2 hours ago, KingBollock said:

I adore Skunk Anansie, though I have never had the good fortune of seeing them live. I was particularly gutted to miss them supporting Motörhead in Norwich way back.

 

I seem to recall that Lemmy was a big fan of Skin in particular. I remember him talking about her in an interview where he said something along the lines of "she's black, gay and really angry, what a brilliant combination for a lyricist" :lol: 

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I didn't know that Cass played with Gary Moore, I'm just giving the monsters of rock album a listen now though. Great stuff! 

 

Does anyone have any other recommendations of albums he's played in outside of Skunk Anansie?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Merton said:

He played with Terence Trent D’Arby in the late 80s

I bought the first TTD album after hearing Cass in the Bass Centre, only to find he's only on 1 or 2 songs and not really featured. Don't know if he was on any other TTD albums.

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Cass is an absolutely lovely bloke. Had a few good chats with him whenever I'd run into him at The Gallery over the years. 

 

Regarding his time with Terence Trent D'Arby, he's got some stories... most of them not very flattering. :D

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I'll tell my Cass Lewis war-story again; hope it measures up to when I told it last time and nothing has been added!

Back in (I think) mid '94 a band I was in, who shall remain nameless as I wouldn't want this to end up on a Google search as there's acrimony between ex members and mental health issues etc, supported Skunk Anansie when they'd just broke. If I recall it was at the Water Rat near to Kings Cross, the event was called Splash Club or similar. If I ever Buy or sell anything on Marketplace to any of you I'd probably crack under interrogation and divulge the band name, not that we were known as it was one of the handful of 15 nanoseconds of lame-to-fame I've had.

 

I remember a few of us clocking who he was, we'd remembered him from his TTD stuff, he actually overheard us say 'that's Cass Lewis!!' to which he smiled and said that indeed he was.

I'm not really a fan of Skunk Anansie but I can appreciate how good they are at what they do. In the soundcheck I recall some of us saying that Skin's voice had a Candi Staton grit to it. As for Cass Lewis, he sounded fantastic; his rig was a pre EB Cutlass into a TE Quattra Valve into (this is very contrary to the current zeitgeist) 2 x Mesa Boogie 4x12 with the angled baffles but square sides. The cabs had JE / The Who/ Shepperton stencilled on them. Just an incredible soundstage from his gear.

A lot could be also attributed to how together his playing was compared to mine at the time, really assured, boldly executed and clearly communicated. Not really trying to do anything radical (not that I can remember compared to some of their later stuff but it's a long time ago) but barely breaking into a sweat. Back then I was all over the place trying to be all things to all people...it was a real lesson listening to his presence in the band.

 

Martin

Edited by The fasting showman
poor explanation
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7 minutes ago, The fasting showman said:

I'll tell my Cass Lewis war-story again; hope it measures up to when I told it last time and nothing has been added!

Back in (I think) mid '94 a band I was in, who shall remain nameless as I wouldn't want this to end up on a Google search as there's acrimony between ex members and mental health issues etc, supported Skunk Anansie when they'd just broke. If I recall it was at the Water Rat near to Kings Cross, the event was called Splash Club or similar. If I ever Buy or sell anything on Marketplace to any of you I'd probably crack under interrogation and divulge the band name, not that we were know as it was one of the handful of 15 nanoseconds of lame-to-fame I've had.

 

I remember a few of us clocking who he was, we'd remembered him from his TTD stuff, he actually overheard us say 'that's Cass Lewis!!' to which he smiled and said that indeed he was.

I'm not really a fan of Skunk Anansie but I can appreciate how good they are at what they do. In the soundcheck I recall some of us saying that Skin's voice had a Candi Staton grit to it. As for Cass Lewis, he sounded fantastic; his rig was a pre EB Cutlass into a TE Quattra Valve into (this is very contrary to the current zeitgeist) 2 x Mesa Boogie 4x12 with the angled baffles but square sides. The cabs had JE / The Who/ Shepperton stencilled on them. Just an incredible soundstage from his gear.

A lot could be also attributed to how together his playing was compared to mine at the time, really assured, boldly executed and clearly communicated. Not really trying to do anything radical but barely breaking into a sweat. Back then I was all over the place trying to be all things to all people...it was a real lesson listening to his presence in the band.

 

Martin

I think I was at that gig. Trying to remember who the support bands were so I can identify you!

 

All the gigs from back then seem to blur into each other, mostly because (not naming the band, just in case, but they had an Irish singer with a Perry Farrell fixation and red dreads) always seemed to be involved... 

 

When I heard that Skunk Anansie's bass player was Cass Lewis, I was expecting to see the pink Warwick! But he sounded thunderous with the Cutlass - I think he sounded better then than has has more recently with the G&Ls and the Alusonics. 

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