Rise of the Super Furry Animals: Ric Rawlins

When I was a teenager, my life basically revolved around two things. One, the All Whites (Swansea rugby team, not some horrible Neo-Nazi set up) and two, what is/was known as indie or Britpop music. I’d spend my meagre pocket money on the NME and Melody Maker, 99p cassette singles and if I’d really saved enough the odd album. Me and my friends swapped albums and made copies on our tape to tape stereos and recorded the Evening Session with Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley or Mark and Lard on Radio 1, then listened to it sharing a ‘bud’ each of our walkman earphones on the field at lunchtime. I was fully invested in the battle for Roll With It or Country House to become number 1 even though I liked both Blur and Oasis. My favourite band were The Bluetones, I just loved their jingly jangly melodies, catchy lyrics and cute lead singer (Mark Morris, swoon). Whilst this was all part of Cool Britannia, it was also, for the first time since the shaggy haired success of our 1970s rugby players like JPR and JJ Williams, cool to be Welsh. Bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Gorky’z Zygotic Mynci, Stereophonics, 60ft Dolls were not only from round here but they sang about it, sometimes in Welsh too, and played gigs on our doorstep! Amongst these local heroes, one of the best was the Super Furry Animals. Uplifting and quite frankly, mental, SFA were great fun and put on one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, in Port Talbot Afan Lido in 1998. Their high energy tunes and witty words combined with brilliant album artwork and cool image gained them a cult following around the world until they faded slightly from view, pursuing solo careers and other projects.

I’d seen that this book was to come out so jumped at the chance to request it from Harper Collins UK on NetGalley (thanks for the ebook). Ric Rawlins’ affection for the band is evident throughout as he charts their “rise and perch” (in his words) from mid-Wales schoolboys to Sony-signed megastars and beyond. Clearly SFA have some great ideas and a great knack for songwriting but I was expecting their story to be a lot more entertaining. There are a few amusing anecdotes but even to a mega-fan I don’t think there’s a lot to get particularly excited about here. Reading it was a diverting nod to my youth but I wouldn’t recommend it, sadly.

2.5 stars

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