International Velvet

How Wales Conquered the '90s Charts

Author(s) Neil Collins

Language: English

Genre(s): Art and Music, Welsh Interest

  • July 2024 · 256 pages ·216x135mm

  • · Hardback - 9781915279309
  • · eBook - epub - 9781915279323
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781915279330

About The Book

If the story of Wales in the 1990s was a movie plot, it would all seem so far-fetched. Thankfully, it was all true.

The 1970s and ‘80s were a bleak time for much of Wales: the closure of steel works and coal mines led to mass unemployment while the country’s culture and language was disregarded by politicians and the music industry alike. Some bands even travelled across the Severn Bridge to make sure their records arrived at the London offices sporting an English postmark.

The 1990s changed everything. While Wales was already known for Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Male Voices Choirs, but bands such as Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics and Super Furry Animals exploded into the charts and showed the UK population the breadth of what this small but inherently musical nation could offer. Meanwhile, S4C – the Welsh-language television channel – became increasingly prominent and a new Welsh Assembly was on the horizon…

Featuring fresh analysis and new interviews, International Velvet charts the UK in a decade in which ‘Cool Cymru’ won over the masses and shows how it inspired the still-vibrant Welsh music scene into the 21st century and beyond.


‘A fascinating book that documents a magical time. This is one for those that were there, wearing the t-shirts, in the gigs, singing along, and an important record of why this period was so exciting for music coming from Wales.’
Huw Stephens, BBC Radio Wales / BBC Radio 6 Music

‘Neil Collins has nailed it. This is the history of a revolution that went right.'
Huw Williams, The Pooh Sticks / Swansea Sound

“To re-engage with the 1990s Welsh music scene via Neil Collins’ excellent “International Velvet” book has been a joy. It was such a formative time of my life and career due to having the privilege of recording with many incredible artists.
‘However, it was the friendships, the sense of camaraderie, the late night discussions in Clwb Ifor Bach, or wandering home to Canton after experiencing another great new artist inspired by the Welsh musicians around them that brings back the most inspiring memories of that era.’
Greg Haver, producer and musician

'A sonic A470. Joining the dots in this pulsating cynefin. Meticulously researched and artfully executed. Reminds us where the beat came from. We forget what a dizzying plethora of voices we have in this tiny massive country at our peril. A Cymru Lipstick Traces.'
Patrick Jones, writer

‘International Velvet looks beyond the Cool Cymru clichés and puts the music, excesses, successes and failures in context.’
Paul Jones, Y Cyrff / Catatonia

'If you grew up in Wales in the ’70s, rocked Bogiez nightclub in the ’80s, fell apart in the ’90s, then got back together in the noughties, then Neil Collins’ International Velvet will take you on a wonderful romantic trip through your musical past. A fab read!'
Jay Pepper, Tigertailz

‘Neil perfectly captures an important time in the history of Welsh music. Written with intelligence, clarity and great insight, it cast me back to those exciting, heady times.’
Andrea Adams, Melys

‘I was sceptical International Velvet would be a light read about the usual suspects riding on the Cool Cymru south Wales coach to London. I was wrong. ‘This is a comprehensive deep dive into Welsh music, the unsung heroes, the history and politics of the time. This really is an excellent book.’
Helen Love


Content Notes
Foreword by Rhys Mwyn
A Musical Backwater: The Welsh Scene Pre-1990s
Year Zero: Introducing the Welsh-Language Music
Building Bridges, Not Walls: Venturing into Bilingualism
The Kinnock Factor: The Manics and Anti-Welshness
‘Million Sellers’: Exploring the Welsh Indie Scene
The New Seattle: Revisiting Newport’s Explosive
Underground Scene
Land of My Mothers: Alternative Takes on Welsh-
Language Music in the Mid-90s
Britpop vs Cool Cymru: Two Movements Go Head-to-Head
A Very Good Morning in Wales: Welsh Devolution in 1997
Every Day When I Wake Up, I Thank the Lord I’m Welsh!
The Nation’s Embracing of Welshness
Leaving the Twentieth Century: Wales at the Dawn
of the New Millennium
A New Wave of Confidence: Welsh-Language Music
in the Year 2000

About the Author(s)


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