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Tuesday, June 8, 1999 Published at 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK


Cool Cerys comes top

Cerys Matthews and Catatonia: Spearheading 'Cool Cymru'

Forget Blur or Oasis - Catatonia singer Cerys Matthews is the coolest person in rock, according to a survey of music fans.

The frontwoman, famed for hits such as Mulder and Scully, is one of three Welsh stars in the top five of the poll compiled from the votes of Melody Maker readers.

Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire is at number two, while Stereophonics singer Kelly Jones is at number five.

But there is no sign of Oasis brothers Liam or Noel Gallagher in the top ten - and last year's winner, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, has slipped to a lowly number 15.

Former busker

[ image: All smiles: Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers came second]
All smiles: Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers came second
Other notable names in the list include former rock journalist Cliff Jones, now singer with much-hyped new band Gay Dad, at number 10. Chester band Mansun have two entries - Paul Draper and Dominic Chad - at numbers nine and four respectively.

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is at seven, while Placebo singer Brian Molko is third.

Cerys Matthews' success in the poll is further proof of the incredible popularity of the 30-year-old singer from Cardiff, who busked and cleaned rubbish from beaches before forming the group in 1993 with guitarist Mark Roberts.

The band's name - taken from a type of schizophrenia characterised by periodic states of stupor - came from Matthews' experiences working in a mental health institution.

Roberts brought in his ex-bandmate from Welsh punk act Y Cruff, Paul Jones, on bass. Later, guitarist Owen Powell and drummer Aled Richards completed the line-up.

Boozy performances

[ image:  ]
The band's debut single, For Tinkerbell, was an immediate favourite with the music press but it took the band three years to release their first album.

Way Beyond Blue helped endear the band to alternative rock fans, along with Matthews' legendary boozy performances on- and off-stage. Most famously, she caused uproar on Welsh TV channel S4C after making crude comments about a weather presenter's sex life on a live show.

1998 saw Matthews propelled to stardom, thanks to the single Mulder And Scully, the album International Velvet, and her duet with Space, The Ballad Of Tom Jones, which led to her performing with the man himself on a TV show.

Despite their massive mainstream success, Matthews is still not afraid to court controversy. Catatonia's third album, Equally Cursed And Blessed, contains the track Storm The Palace, a passionate diatribe against the monarchy.

Along with the Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics, Catatonia are among a clutch of bands frequently used to illustrate the revival of youth culture in Wales.

If the Melody Maker poll is anything to go by, those who became familiar with Matthews performing tiny gigs in foul-smelling pubs had better get used to the idea of the woman who once cleaned rubbish from South Wales beaches becoming a worldwide star.

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