This year’s National Albums Day has a 90s theme so, to celebrate, the Wales Arts Review team have dug out our parka coats and DMs and put together a playlist of some of our favourite Welsh albums from the decade.
Polythene by Feeder
Formed in Newport in the mid-1990s, Feeder were one of the breakaway Welsh music successes of the decade, achieving a string of top 20 albums and hit a singles throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Their first album, Polythene, met with critical acclaim and featured the band’s first UK top-25 hit, ‘High’.
Everything Must Go by the Manic Street Preachers (1996)
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of the Manic Street Preachers on the Welsh music scene in the 1990s, but their 1996 album Everything Must Go came at the height of the Britpop wave and secured a Brit Award for the band the following year. Named after a play by Patrick Jones (the brother of Nicky Wire), Everything Must Go was the band’s fourth studio album and took their sound in a more commercial direction. The album was also the first release since the disappearance of the band’s guitarist Richey Edwards and featured a number of lyrics written by Edwards before his departure.
Fuzzy Logic by Super Furry Animals
‘Something 4 the Weekend’
International Velvet by Catatonia
Despite being Catatonia’s second album, International Velvet was a breakthrough moment for the band fronted by Cerys Matthews. There was a more confident, rockier sound to the album which showcased Matthews’ distinctive vocals and unleashed tracks such as ‘Road Rage’ on the scene.
The Big 3 by 60ft Dolls (1996)
Formed in Newport in the early-1990s, the band quickly rose to prominence after a number of appearances supporting 90s’ Britpop stalwarts, including Oasis. The Big 3 was released during the band’s tumultuous lifespan and has been described as “a testament to what Britpop might have been had it not been so smug”.
Erotica by The Darling Buds (1992)
A band perhaps best known for a string of a hits in the late-1980s, The Darling Buds released their third, and final, studio album in 1992, featuring singles such as ‘Sure Thing’ and ‘Please Yourself’. The alt-rock sound is in full flow throughout the album, with Andrea Lewis taking charge both of the songwriting and the vocals for this final album. Not be confused with the Madonna album of the same title, released just a few weeks later.
Reload by Tom Jones
It’d be difficult to pick a recent decade that doesn’t feature an album from Tom Jones, but the 1990s saw a string of hits from the Welsh icon. We’ve chosen Reload for this list, a collection which featured Tom Jones in collaboration with a dizzying array of artists from the decade, including James Dean Bradfield, Robbie Williams, The Cardigans and Van Morrison. An album that provides the very definition of “something for everyone”.
Rumours and Curses by Melys (1998)
Rumours and Curses was the first full length album from billingual band Melys, formed by Andrea Parker and Paul Adams in the mid-1990s. The band quickly gained prominence after catching the attention of radio DJ John Peel, with their distinctive sound and blend of Welsh and English lyrics a standout feature of their first album.
Word Gets Around by the Stereophonics (1997)
No list of Welsh albums from the 1990s would be complete without the Stereophonics, featured here for their 1997 album Word Gets Around. Released via V2 Records, the album was the band’s first full length studio recording and featured tracks such as ‘More Life in a Tramp’s Vest’ and ‘A Thousand Trees’, signaling the band’s arrival on the Welsh music scene.
Pyst by Datblygu (1990)
Another entry to the 100 Greatest Welsh Albums of All Time, Pyst shone a light on class and generational divides among Welsh language speakers in the early part of the decade. Fronted by the late David R. Edwards, the band made enormous inroads into making Welsh language music more mainstream, with Pyst offering an epic collection of tracks which marked a moment of significant political change within Wales.
Second Toughest in the Infants by Underworld (1996)
Electronic band Underworld were actually formed in the late-80s in Cardiff and initially made their mark with their experimental sound and their rock/techno blend of music. Second Toughest in the Infants was the band’s second studio album and also featured in Wales Arts Review’s list of the 100 Greatest Welsh Albums of All Time.
Take a look at Wales Arts Review’s pick of 100 Greatest Welsh Albums of All Time.
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