Jill Tunstall talks to 4 Real Producer and Director, Dafydd Wyn, who has put the focus on Welsh pop music over the last 40 years… (Daily Post Dec 18th 1999)

It's not unusual to find a Welsh band at the top of the charts these days. 40 years after the record with that title became Wales' first number one, Welsh music is still making it's mark in the music world.

When Welsh rocker Tom Jones stormed to the top of the charts in the 1960's with 'It's not Unusual' it was very unusual.

And then it seemed to go quiet until the 1990's when a huge resurgence of Welsh national pride found it's voice in bands such as Catatonia and The Manic Street Preachers.

What people don't realise, says Dafydd Wyn, who has just produced and directed '4 Real – Four Decades of Welsh Pop', is that there were many Welsh bands around in between – but not everybody knew where they came from.

"There's a general lack of knowlege about the Welsh pop history. Everybody knows about Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey but there were a lot of Welsh bands that people didn't know were Welsh", says Dafydd.

"In the 1960's you had Tom Jones doing the pop star bit, Dave Edmunds doing the rock guitar and John Cale in New York doing Avant Garde with the Velvet Underground, they were the Holy Trinity, if you like."

Those were the instantly recogniseable but bands like Man, Budgie and Amen Corner were also Welsh as were artists like Tony Atoria in the 1970s, Steve Strange of Visage and Shakin' Stevens and Bonnie Tyler in the 1980s.

"The first programme takes us up to Mike Peters and The Alarm who were the first 'Welsh band' who stood up and said
'we are welsh', recording half their final album in Welsh which is very 'now', says Dafydd. "The Alarm represented a watershed for Welsh bands."

The second programme looks at how bands such as The Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, The Super Furry Animals and The Stereophonics built on that new spirit of Welsh pop.

It was at that time that The Manic's lead singer Richey Edwards carved '4 Real' into his forearm with a knife in response to Radio One DJ Steve Lamacq's questioning of the band's authenticity.

"The second programme looks at the Welsh language scene and the present day with huge stadium gigs tied in with nationalism," says Dafydd.

There's also a look at the Newport scene. In the early 90's, music critics labelled Newport, the 'New Seattle'. TJ's Club in the town was a prominent launch pad for new talent and was regularly visited by spotters from the top record companies.

As for the future Dafyyd's own prediction is that Big Leaves and Murray The Hump are the bands to put your money on.

He also likes to see an extended version of this two part series� – which features many interviews with the bands in their formative years.

"Itr should be eight one hour progrqammes instead of two half hours ," he said. "Hopefully, someone will let me do that next."

(* 4 Real: Sounds good: Wales has produced some great bands and singers including Mike Peters from The Alarm, Catatonia, the Manic Street Preachers and, of course, Tom Jones… HTV/Tuesday/5.30pm/21st December 1999)

Publication::Publication:Daily Post
Author::Jill Tunstall