The origins of Cats Can Fly stem from Ethos in 1971, a Junior High School band from North York, Ontario consisting of guitarists Jim Longmuir and Alan Frizell, Frank Miller on drums, and bassist Peter Steele.
After graduating, they toiled on the local club circuit as your typical bar band covering whatever was hot on the charts at the time. But when an American band with the same name released an album, the group changed its name to Scamp. They enjoyed limited success as a b-circuit bar band, but gained experience touring Canada, most notably with Burton Cummings. Miller eventually left the group and was replaced by Tom Davidson behind the drum kit.
As Scamp, they were also featured on Toronto variety programs and won the CFTR Talent Search. As their exposure grew, Laura Lapedus, the school board consultant that helped them get their start back in school eventually agreed to co-manage them, along with Wayne Baguley and Warren Keach.In 1980, they spent time with producer Jack Richardson at his Nimbus 9 Studios, but unable to find anyone to distribute the proposed record, the project was scrapped.
Within a couple of years they’d changed their name to Cats Can Fly and Steele was the only original member left, but was now going by the stage name, Peter Alexander. He’d switched to keyboards, and the lineup was rounded up out with David Ashley on bass, Mitchell James on guitars, and drummer Eddie Zeeman. They released the indie 7-track TOUCH TOUCH album in ’84. Axe Records released a pair of singles off it to little fanfare by spring of ’85 – the title track and “Father Was A Foreigner.”
They entered Talent Quest 85, sponsored by Craven A cigarettes that summer, and won the talent search along with Belinda Metz. From the victory came a recording deal with CBS and sponsorship on an upcoming promotional tour that gave them even more exposure in an ever-increasing crowded synth-pop market.
They were shipped off to Phase One Studios with Lou Pomanti and Lenny De Rose, and their self-titled album was released in early ’86. Slickly produced, it churned out a pair of Canadian Top 40 hits in “Flippin’ To The A-Side” (one of the three tracks rehashed from the first EP). The extended mix kept everyone on the club dance floors and helped it peak at #16 early that year. “Lies Are Gonna Get Ya” followed, but stalled at #33. The album itself was generally warmly received by the critics, particularly the sultry “Cold Hands Warm Heart” (the third single, which failed to crack the top 40) and the racey “Save It For The Next One.” They also found themselves up for a Juno that year for most promising group, but lost out to Glass Tiger.
Things were looking up, but the band found themselves caught up in a corporate takeover in 1988, when Sony took over CBS. Dumped from the roster, the band was dejected and although continuing to tour for another year or so while looking for a new label, they subsequently packed it in, and all the members went on to other groups or outside interests all together. The record saw the light of day again in 1994, when it was re-released on CD, complete with a bonus extended mix of “Flippin’ To The A Side.”