The legacy of Britpop's great Welsh hopes Catatonia.
Blanco Y Negro: 2 September 2002
Last updated: 20 November 2008
Few bands had it all and threw it away like Catatonia. For a time they were on top of the world, on top of the charts, and seemingly permanently on Top Of The Pops. But internal ructions in the band caused problems they were simply unable to overcome, no matter how they tried to stay together for the sake of the music.
- Mulder And Scully
- The Ballad Of Tom Jones
- Strange Glue
- Road Rage
- Stone By Stone
- Game On
- Dead From The Waist Down
- You've Got A Lot To Answer For
- Karaoke Queen
- Lost Cat
- I Am The Mob
- Sweet Catatonia
The music, though, was frequently peerless. From their early, burningly energetic songs like Sweet Catatonia and Bleed, Catatonia were the perfect post Britpop band. Main songwriter Mark Roberts had a natural way with melody, and Cerys Matthews' 60-a-day voice defied convention.
Greatest Hits, a non-chronological run through their singles, is for the most part a cracking ride. Road Rage and Mulder And Scully sound as fresh today as they first did on the radio, and You've Got A Lot To Answer For was a perfect realisation of the terrors of home pregnancy testing.
The collection's notably heavy on songs from International Velvet, with five of the 15 tracks taken from the album. The fourth and final album, the underrated Paper Scissors Stone, is represented just once, by the rabble rousing Stone By Stone. By that time, the band was collapsing internally amid nervous breakdowns and failed relationships.
Curiously, there's also the inclusion of two non-Catatonia songs - Cerys Matthews' collaborations with Space's The Ballad Of Tom Jones, and Cerys duet with the man himself on Baby, It's Cold Outside. The latter, particularly, sits uneasily in the collection, being a breathy lounge act excursion in which Cerys and Tom attempt to outflirt each other.
With a couple more duff tracks on the way (who'd want to listen again to the wretched Karaoke Queen or the filler Game On?), Catatonia's Greatest Hits is a curate's egg. But when they were on form, Catatonia truly held greatness in their hands. Remember them this way.
Words: Joe Goodden