Thursday, 10 March 2016

Oliver: Datblygu - Sdim Eisiau Esgus (18 January 1992)

I'm going to Wales this weekend, so a track from a Welsh language group seems particularly appropriate at this time.

Several Hogmanys ago, I was watching Jools Holland's annual end of year bag of shite - which is at least on that edition enlivened by the possibility of seeing something unexpected - Kylie Minogue singing a piano torch song version of I Should Be So Lucky, discovering Adam Ant has turned into a pirate captain version of Action Man or Sylvester McCoy funking around to Aloe Blacc like it was still 1973 - Kate Nash was on singing Pumpkin Soup or as I remembered it before doing the research, I Just Want Your Kiss, Boy.  I hated it, I thought it was so lame and empty, and I found myself wondering how on earth she could sit there and sing something so manifestly second rate.  And then it struck me.  She may realise that she's singing an annoying piece of filler, but regardless of whether the song could be better or not, it was on my television and in people's record collections because she was singing it with CONVICTION.  Art, in any field, which the creator shows they think is crap is doomed.  Art, in any field, which the creator puts forward with belief or the strong appearance of belief has a fighting chance.  I told myself I would hold to this if I had doubts when re-starting work on writing my play.  I'm still holding to it even though I've done no work on it even since then.

The CONVICTION feeling is important when reviewing Welsh rap.  It's a hard sell, because the flow at the start very rarely draws the listener in, sounding awkward and off-key.  Rather like trying to quote Hamlet in Mauritian.  There are also to my ears, two male Welsh rap voices:
1) Paul Gascoigne on helium - which is the case here.
2) Bernard Bresslaw on mogadon - see Y Diwigiad

But regardless of who they are or what they are singing, they go for it and what usually happens, as it did on so many Peel shows, is that you find yourself going with it, until yourself and the band are in sync and suddenly Welsh language rap makes perfect sense.
Datblygu (pronounced as Dat-bluggy) and which translates as develop or developing were celebrating their 10th anniversary in 1992 and Peel had been playing them since 1987 at least.  They were as prominent on the Welsh cassette scene as Wckr Spgt were in the US, fusing together the lyrics of David R. Edwards over a predominantly electro background.  This track finds them moving more explicitly in a dance direction and given that the only two words obvious to non-Welsh speakers are "Solpadine" and "Paracetemol" it could be thought that the track is offering advice to clubbers over how to avoid hangovers.  Given that the title of the track translates as There's No Excuse Wanted, this isn't wholly far-fetched.
Musically it's a little dated, the sound of a million early 90s corporate training videos, but it's that rap which clinches its place on the mixtape.

Datblygu's website is worth a look if you speak Welsh.  I liked the English? page which tells anyone who doesn't read Welsh to use Google Translate.

Just to prove I don't have a total downer on Kate Nash:

Videos courtesy of Peter Davies (Datblygu) and KateNashVEVO.

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