The sometimes-masked supergroup of New York musicians trades Wings for whiskers in an homage to Paul McCartney’s 1973 classic
Fantastic Cat make their case as the Harlem Globetrotters of Americana music with a head-spinning, instrument-trading, vocal-swapping rendition of Wings’ “Band on the Run.” The note-perfect but still ramshackle cover arrives on the 50th anniversary of the release of Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1973 album, Band on the Run, and a day after McCartney announced a new anniversary edition of the LP dropping in February.
Producer Butch Walker herded the Cats at his Tennessee hills studio for the session and joined them on slide guitar and background vocals. But the heavy lifting is done by the core four members — solo artists Anthony D’Amato, Don DiLego, Brian Dunne, and Mike Montali, who unite to form a rock & roll Voltron as FanCat — and they throw themselves into re-creating Wings’ woe-is-me tour journal. Dunne starts on electric guitar and transitions to bass, Montali mans the drums before ceding his stool to DiLego, and D’Amato plays it cool by sticking to acoustic guitar. All four harmonize, handclap, and sing different verses, while adjunct feline Michael Hesslein plays that woozy keyboard intro. (Watch the video, filmed in Walker’s studio by Jace Kartye, above.)
It’d be easy to call the instrument handoffs a gimmick, if Fantastic Cat weren’t so damn good at it. (Besides, the real gimmick is the cat masks they wear in press photos.) The group pulled off a similar feat earlier this year with a cover of Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me in Your Heart” that, like “Band on the Run,” is a staple of their live shows.
But the New York-based group isn’t a covers band. Their 2022 debut album The Very Best of Fantastic Cat is an exceptional mix of honest rock songs with equal doses of Dylan and Springsteen, and they have a follow-up in the can for later next year recorded at DiLego’s Velvet Elk Studios in the Poconos. On Dec. 17, they’ll headline Bowery Ballroom in New York for “The Fantastic Cat Office Holiday Party.” Cat Popper — naturally — opens.