Time for a look back at another pop star’s career. Cathy Dennis was born in Norwich in March 1969, she made a lot of great dance-pop records (most of which she wrote herself) and she also had a distinctive bright red hairstyle. Unlike others that I have reviewed on here recently, Cathy never had a look or sound that was particularly “weird”, but as far as mainstream pop stars go she is one of my favourites, I remember enjoying a lot of her singles from first time round in the early-90s and she was one of the earliest singers that I became a fan of, and my memories of seeing her on TV and in magazines now go back over 25 years so I wanted to share her story. Although Cathy was never really an A-list pop star in this country, she was popular and had success around the world, particularly in America. This will be a piece looking back at her 13 hit singles in the UK from 1989-1997 and her various TV appearances and music videos on YouTube. In October 1989 Cathy had her first hit single with the dance act D-Mob (of “We Call It Acieed” and “It Is Time To Get Funky” fame) as the lead vocalist on their single “C’Mon And Get My Love” which reached no. 15, and she made her first of ten appearances on BBC1’s Top Of The Pops. This was also Cathy’s first of four Top Ten hits in the US, I was surprised to discover that she had more Top Ten singles in the US than she did in the UK. In December 1989 Cathy’s first solo single “Just Another Dream” was first released which reached no. 93.
In April 1990 Cathy’s second single with D-Mob “That’s The Way Of The World” was released, but this was less successful, reaching no. 48. In November 1990 “Just Another Dream” was released for a second time, this time reaching no. 95.
1991 would turn out to be Cathy’s most successful year. In May 1991 “Touch Me (All Night Long)” was released. This was a cover version of the 1984 disco classic by Fonda Rae (with some rewritten lyrics). I am a real fan of both versions and I would have to say that this is my favourite single by Cathy and the one that really got me into her. Cathy put a lot of hard work into promoting her songs and “Touch Me” became her most successful single, reaching no. 5 to become her only Top Ten hit single in the UK. It was also her second Top Ten hit in the US and her biggest, spending two weeks at no. 2. Cathy also performed this song on Top Of The Pops and CITV’s Ghost Train! Also in May 1991 Cathy appeared on the cover of Smash Hits, everything was going right for her.
In July 1991 it was third time lucky for “Just Another Dream” when it finally became a hit single, reaching no. 15 in the UK, and it was Cathy’s third Top Ten single in the US. It was accompanied by a new video and appearances on CBBC’s The 8:15 From Manchester and Top Of The Pops. In August 1991 Cathy’s first album “Move To This” was released in the UK which reached no. 3.
In October 1991 the next single “Too Many Walls” was released which reached no. 17 in the UK and was her fourth and final Top Ten hit in the US. She also performed this song on BBC1’s Wogan and Top Of The Pops, and the video was featured on the “Now 20” VHS compilation. One notable thing about the TOTP performance was that it was just after the relaunch of the long-running show where a rule was introduced that performers had to sing live, and she definitely impressed and showed off her voice. Also in October 1991 she appeared on the cover of Number One magazine.
I know I am bringing it back to Bid TV again but I remember watching Andy Hodgson one day about a decade ago when he said that when he was working at a local radio station he once met Cathy around the time she was promoting “Too Many Walls”. It was just nice to hear someone talking about her on the TV again and it was good to discover that he was a fan too. Also in October 1991 Cathy performed at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party live on BBC1 from the London Arena. I’m fairly sure that my sister went to this one, so she has seen Cathy perform live on stage and I haven’t? Pah!
In December 1991 the final single off the first album “Everybody Move” was released which reached no. 25, and it was accompanied by an amusing video. She performed this song on Des O’Connor’s ITV show, along with yet another Top Of The Pops appearance. Also in December 1991 Cathy appeared on the cover of Time Out magazine.
In August 1992 the first single off Cathy’s second album “You Lied To Me” was released which reached no. 34. Also around this time Cathy appeared on the CBBC shows The O Zone and one of my favourites Parallel 9. Also in 1992 there was a big sign that she had made her mark on the pop scene when she was done on ITV’s Stars In Their Eyes!
In November 1992 the next single “Irresistible” was released which reached no. 24 and there was another Top Of The Pops appearance for Cathy. In the early-90s my sister set the video for a lot of music shows that were shown late-night on ITV. One of them was The Beat which was hosted by Gary Crowley. On one edition that she recorded there was a feature where the latest singles were reviewed, “Irresistible” was one of them, and I remember that Gary said he didn’t like it. I do though!
In January 1993 Cathy’s second album “Into The Skyline” was released which reached no. 8, and in February 1993 the next single “Falling” was released which reached no. 32. This was accompanied by what has to be Cathy’s strangest video which is rather different to her other ones, it was great. Also in 1993 she appeared in an episode of the US drama series Beverly Hills 90210.
It was also around this time that one of the more unusual moments in Cathy’s career happened. The computer games magazine Sega Power ran an article in issue 35 about how much they liked her, this led to her being interviewed in issue 38, and issue 40 (dated March 1993) included a free gift of a cassette which featured some of Cathy’s songs including “Falling” plus some messages specially recorded for the magazine of her reading some tips and cheats for various Sega games. This might be something of an in-joke as Cathy does sound a little bemused, presumably this was organised to satisfy the writers who seemingly had a fantasy of her talking about Sonic The Hedgehog while tracks from her new album played in the background. So if you’re a gamer and you’d ever wanted to hear Cathy say things like “press the up button” it was your lucky day. However, it seems that Cathy actually might be into her games because also in 1993 she appeared on Channel 4’s GamesMaster where she tried to complete a computer game challenge by playing Global Gladiators, but she failed and caused the end of the world (in the game at least) which was rather disappointing, much to the amusement of host Dominik Diamond.
In February 1994 Cathy’s third and final single with D-Mob (and the final single off the second album) “Why” was released which reached no. 27. Along with Top Of The Pops, Cathy also performed this song on CBBC’s Live & Kicking and CITV’s What’s Up Doc. I watched a lot of Saturday Morning children’s TV in the 90s and it was always great seeing Cathy turn up on these shows.
After releasing no singles in 1995, Cathy returned in August 1996 with the first single from her third album “West End Pad”, which reached no. 25. Cathy also moved away from the dance-pop sound of her early singles. I remember watching the video on The Chart Show, it was great seeing her back on the scene after a couple of years away. Also around this time she appeared on ITV’s This Morning, Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and CBBC’s Fully Booked and The O Zone where she spoke about her enthusiasm for rally driving (women rally drivers? Insert Alan Partridge/The Day Today reference). In November 1996 Cathy appeared as a panellist on the first series of BBC2’s comedy music show Never Mind The Buzzcocks. In March 1997 the next single “Waterloo Sunset” was released which became her second-biggest hit in the UK, reaching no. 11. This was a cover of the classic 1967 song by The Kinks which was endorsed by the writer of the song Ray Davies who also appeared in the video. Cathy performed this on Top Of The Pops and BBC1’s The National Lottery Live when it had high ratings which helped give the song a boost. Also in March 1997 her third and final album “Am I The Kinda Girl” was released, but it reached a very disappointing no. 78. After performing on several editions, Cathy hosted an edition of Top Of The Pops in May 1997, introducing the likes of Robbie Williams, Kenickie, D:Ream and Republica. In June 1997 Cathy had what turned out to be her final hit single in the UK with “When Dreams Turn To Dust”, which reached no. 43. I remember her appearing on lots of shows around this time to promote this song. One of them was 5’s Company, a live daytime entertainment show in the very early days of Channel 5 where she was interviewed by various hosts including Steve Allen and John Barrowman.
After leaving her pop star career behind, Cathy went on to become a hugely successful songwriter, writing many hits for a wide variety of singers, and she has contributed to eight UK Number One singles. They are “Never Had A Dream Come True” by S Club 7 (2000), “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue (2001, widely regarded as one of the best chart-toppers of its era), “Have You Ever” by S Club 7 (2001), “Anything Is Possible” by Will Young (2002), “Toxic” by Britney Spears (2004), “About You Now” by Sugababes (2007), “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry (2008, a transatlantic chart-topper), and “Once” by Diana Vickers” (2010). Cathy has also won several awards including Grammys and Ivor Novellos and her songwriting work has been hugely acclaimed.