Daffodil Rising

It was my national saint’s day on 1 March – St David’s day.  Now unlike certain other attention seeking Celtic nations I could mention, we Welsh folk don’t make a big fuss about it, you know parades, big foam hats in the shape of our national beverage*, that type of thing.  Nope, those of us who remember just wear a daffodil in our lapel and hum the tune to our national anthem** on the train ride into work, secure in the knowledge that we are the Chosen Ones and our rugby team is the greatest.  Do not worry, we understand your jealousy, we’ve been living with it for millennia now and we don’t blame you for it.

Now this got me thinking about some of my favourite Welsh artists, so I thought I’d unleash a couple of my favourites on y’all.  Hugely intelligent though I am^, I can’t detect any single thread running through them all, unless it is that by growing up in a side line away from the mainstream media centres^^ it can enable artists to follow their own muses a little more, be themselves a little more, occasionally be a little odder than they’d otherwise be.  Oh and there’s Tom Jones too.

In general Wales was always a huge heartland for metal, certainly in the 80’s.  What is possibly sociologically more interesting though is the effect that my parent’s generation and peers had, hippies moving into the countryside in search of self-sufficiency and a utopia born straight out of the works of William Morris.  Those tie dye roots definitely sent shoots through to the surface in the music of all manner of interesting whimsical types like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, who were from my home town.  Add in a punkier, meaner scene around some of the more industrial places like Newport and all life is here, but Welsher.

This is by no means a definitive list or any attempt to pull off anything as inherently and incipiently wanky as a ‘Best of Wales’, just some fun:

Welsh 01

Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood.  Stand aside for Big D.  This is the Richard Burton version from 1954, easily one of my most played LPs ever and if you can’t lose yourself in the sublimity of the opening few minutes then you have no poetry in your soul.  Sorry.  Gains bonus points for featuring ‘an all Welsh cast’ – oh yeah, we complete!  I can, if called upon when sufficiently in my cups, recite big chunks of Under Milk Wood, doing all the voices too.  True story.

Welsh 07

I Was A Teenage Gwent Boy*^.  I Inherited this beauty from my brother and I love every inch of it, from the angel on the cover^* to the picture of all the bands together on the back – Merseybeat style.  Here are 11 blasts of indie/punk/rock/weirdo tunes all united.  Only two bands here went on to do much else, Novocaine and 60ft Dolls and even then, not too much else.  There are a couple of really great moments here, my fave being Tearooms of Babylon ‘H.P Lovelace’ – which was just inspired oddness.  I own a good few Welsh compilations and this gets the nod over them all for its consistency.

Welsh 04

Budgie Best of Budgie.  Sheer, twisted excellence.  This is great, conventional power trio rock consistently approached from a very oblique angle indeed.  Burke Shelley really should be knighted – never mind his incredible riffs (Breadfan!!), this man gave us the titles ‘Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman’ and ‘In The Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand’.

Welsh 05 (2)

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci The Blue Trees.  Psychedelic, country, indie, pastoral excellence on a mini-LP.  I always loved the fact that Gorky’s were bilingual and would happily sing in either English or Welsh depending entirely on which sounded better for the song – something that they ran into trouble for with the Welsh language crowd at one point, screw ’em.  This is from 2000 and not their mad, shifting best, but possibly their most relaxed.

Welsh 06

Manic Street Preachers Gold Against The Soul.  Our biggest and best at the moment and a band I’ve grown up with, one gig of theirs being a very early date for Mrs 1537 and I.  I love their intelligence, irreverence, righteousness and dignity in the face of adversity.  Out of all their LPs, I picked this one because no-one else, band included, seem to like it much at all.  It isn’t all good but any LP that opens with the rock blast one-two combo of ‘Sleepflower’ and ‘From Despair to Where’ is a winner for me.  Huge bonus points are gained for calling a track ‘Nostalgic Pushead’ too.

Welsh 03

Super Furry Animals Radiator.  A great, strange and vastly inventive double LP, which seems to be worth quite a bit of cash these days.  Again, another defiantly bilingual band of cleverclogs, this was such a huge step up from their debut.  Real invention just drips from the grooves here, personal favourites being ‘Bass tuned to D.E.A.D’ and ‘Mountain People’.  I’ve been finding new things in this disc since 1997.

Welsh 02

Tom Jones Live At Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas.  Bought for the cover alone – this is precisely how I’m going to live once that lottery win is in the bag.  The chit-chat with the crowd is great, Tom is in full sex panther mode throughout.  What surprised me, in my ignorance, was just how great some of this music was.  Forget the Vegas schmaltz, this man had a VOICE.  Just stick ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’ on and marvel at the power.  Just try not to chuck your dinner up if you accidentally listen to ‘My Way’.  The man was our Elvis.

I’m sorry if you’re not Welsh too.  Try not to blame yourself, it’s probably not your fault.

638 Down (again!).

PS – I didn’t even mention a lot of other folk I own wax by such as Man, John Cale, Dub War, Catatonia, Bullet For My Valentine, 60ft Dolls, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Badfinger and Helen Love.

*possibly because, rather unusually, we don’t have one.  True story.

**Delilah by Tom Jones, since you ask.

^as well as easily being the modestest person in Europe.

^^back pre-internet, when such things were remotely relevant.

*^for all you foreign types, Gwent is a county of Wales.

^*an image stolen by the Stone Roses for the cover of Love Spreads Around (they were recording in Wales at the time this LP came out).  Oh, allegedly, or something.

56 thoughts on “Daffodil Rising

  1. Dylan Thomas, Richard Burton, Tom Jones, men with the voices of GIANTS. Never heard of the rest of these folks but I suspect none of them are Texans anyway! Richard Burton and Tom Jones were both born near Lufkin, their families moving on to Wales when they were still in diapers. Not so sure about Dylan Thomas but you can sure hear the East Texas twang in his live recordings.

    1. Nope this post is a Texan free zone, unfortunately. You could comfortably fit my country into Texas approximately 1.4m times and still have room left over for a whole bunch of steers, I reckon.

      1. You’re kidding me, 1537, Tom Jones and Dick Burton are not bloody Texans? Maybe not but I still like that Welsh singing! Here’s a scene from one of my favorite movies about Texans fighting Zulus at the Alamo.

  2. On Friday, a buddy named Colin came over for me to look at some records. Somebody was downsizing and needed to get rid of 5 full boxes of records. Colin wanted to know if there were any keepers.

    That Tom Jones was in there, among MANY Tom Jones. But I told him it was a keeper, just for the cover.

      1. That’s still a big weight of vinyl though …

        I wonder if the same thing will happen to mine in 40 years time? And some punk will diss it on his spaceblog and wonder why I don’t have any Nickelback and only two Tom Jones LPs.

  3. I’m not Welsh, but I identify as Welsh. Is that okay? There’s some Welsh blood on my father’s mother’s side of the family. Could I possibly be related to Christian Bale? Or Tom Jones?

    1. I suspect you’ll find out that you are in fact the true heir to the ancient kings of Wales and you’ll have to fight to liberate your subjects from the tyranny of English oppression. I’m sure there’s a film in there somewhere!

  4. Joe somehow I must have clicked something that ‘unfollowed’ your site, I was wondering where you’d been – it turns out it was I who was lost!
    Happy belated St. David’s Day, I quite enjoyed the MSP and SFA albums on the 1001 list, I’m pleased to hear the ones I’ve heard may not even be their career peaks!

    1. That has happened to me. For me it is a case of myself hitting the follow/unfollow with a combination of fat thumbs and smaller phone screen.
      I have gone on for days wondering where is this certain bloggers posts, but I was the cause of my own demise.

      1. Then I’m in good company!
        On my computer, a ‘follow/unfollow’ mouse-over icon occasionally pops up in the bottom right of my reader, I must have hit it accidentally when aiming for the scrolling down arrow.

    2. How dare you!! Go and never darken my doors again!!

      I must have done the same to Mike about 7 times, it’s easy to do with big clumsy fingers.

  5. A fine selection there. Have a few SFA albums on CD (a most awesome band) and like Gorky’s very much also.

    Manic Street Preachers never really hit me in a big way. My brother is / was a big fan and I saw them a few times live (they were tremendous), but never really enjoyed an album completely.

    That Tom Jones album is spectacular!

    1. It’s why Tom will always be the King of Wales.

      A lot of folk say that about the Manics, I’m not very objective with them though.

  6. I was Welsh by marriage for 13 years and my then wife always made cawl and Welsh cakes on the big day. Will you be doing the same? It was my son who introduced me to Budgie and I thank him for that.

  7. I have to tell you that daffodils remind me of the Canadian Cancer Society, not in any morbid way – every spring they have a daffodil drive. You donate, and get daffodil bulbs. It’s their symbol. Such a nice flower.

  8. This was fun. Got a few Budgie albums, keep meaning to get more but I think I’ve got the main ones anyway. Manics I’ve got a few and they’re… OK. Not really my thing but sometimes I get a notion for them. I’m racking my brain but I think that’s the extent of my Welsh connection!

  9. Well didn’t you put the V in Variety? All good clean fun of course (except Tom. But I’d buy it for the cover too).

    I’ve had the Big D for a couple of years now (same ed) but not listened to it. (Ducks for cover, waving his Welsh surname in desperate, pathetic defence).

    Finally, as you know I’m a big Gorky’s and SFA fan. One of my mates gave me an odd CD this week (perhaps subliminally for St D’s day). It’s called “Outspaced” and collects the B-sides… and comes in a thick black rubber cover that looks like the end of a huge giant condom. Over to you…

    1. No!!! Get it listened to this weekend Bruce, that’s your 1537 homework.

      Out spaced sounds great, I bought all the singles through to the third album but then money intervened. Radiator is worth around £145 these days … Wow!

  10. Aaah Budgie, the best of bands, I always remember them in conjunction with the Tygers of Pantang and Magnum, I have no idea why but they were the better of the three.

    1. There was a good dose of wit and strangeness in Budgie, along with the bits you could air guitar to. Plus Shelley was a really funny interviewee.

  11. The next time someone tells me how much they like Dropkick Murphy’s I’m just going to get all snooty and profess my love for Manic Street Preachers.
    I’ll see your Irish (by way of Boston) Rock and raise you a Welsh band.

  12. Happy St. David’s day to you! My colleague, Sue is from Wales, and Tuesday she was going around wishing everyone a happy St David’s day. She showed pics of a friend of hers that wore a big daffodil on her head to work. Lol

  13. Lots of great bands there, no doubt. I’m not sorry I’m not Welsh, though. Just you wait for Canada Day. We’ll list some bands that’ll knock yer socks off, eh!

    1. Don’t hate yourself for not being Welsh, there’s nothing you could have done about it. It’s just one of those great unfair things in life.

    1. So if the Walsh family is Welsh, then can I assume everyone in Wales grows long sideburns, drives old Porsche’s, and is 35 years old and still in High School.

  14. I love Budgie. I really like Badfinger too.
    I need to do posts on those bands.
    I know some of the others, but some are new to me. Time to investigate.

    I’m sure Tom Jones inspected more breasts than Colonel Sanders.

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