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Hailed as the first truly modern Welsh-language group, Datblygu's (Develop) influence on Welsh music is immeasurable. Often described as "the Welsh Fall" they were, along with Anhrefn, Y Cyrff, Fflaps, Llwybr Llaethog and Tynal Tywyll, at the forefront of the new wave of Welsh language underground bands that inspired a new generation of musicians in the mid 1980s.
Formed by schoolboys David R Edwards and T Wyn Davies in 1982, Datblygu were joined in 1985 by Patricia Morgan. By then four cassettes had been released by the group, Amheuon Corfforol (Body Doubts), Trosglwyddo'r Gwirionedd (Transferring The Truth), Fi Du (Me Black) and Caneuon Serch I Bobl Serchog (Love Songs For Lovers).
Datblygu's music was, as their name suggests, often experimental. In their time they played in such diverse styles as disco, country, nursery rhymes, rockabilly, crooning and just about anything else. The NME described them as "Kraftwerk with a hangover". Their debut EP Hwgr Grawth-Og was released in 1986 on Anhrefn. The following year they recorded the first of five John Peel sessions.
The band's attitude towards the artistic bourgeoisie and politicians in Wales liberated a whole generation of bands who certainly owe a debt to the pioneering work done by the band. They were, in their own words, "non conforming non-conformists".
Datblygu's first full album, Wyau (Eggs), was released in 1988, and was a forum for Edwards' poetic side to impress itself in a more throwaway rap style. Songs such as Mynwent (Graveyard) and 23 ("I was 23 Monday, I feel and look like Jock Stein… I realised too early, I was a clever little bastard, now I'm cold and uneasy and wish to make butter of my brain") were prime examples of the lyrical dexterity for which he was becoming renowned.
Wyau was followed by Pyst (Post) in 1990, an album which continued the tradition of sharp social comment ("socialising is a cattle market") on alternative, unconventional tunes such as Cymryd Mewn Sioe (Take In A Show) and Ugain i Un (Twenty To One). Musically accessible, it's come to be regarded as Datblygu's finest collection.
Blwch Tymer Tymor (Season Temperament Box) was released by Ankst in 1991. It was Datblygu's unique take on the festive season which included songs such as Ga I Fod Sion Corn (Can I Be Father Christmas), a devastating swipe at the capitalist ideal which treats people as commodities. Not surprisingly, Cliff Richard didn't see the album as a threat to his Christmas chart reign.
The Christmas album was followed by LL.LL v T.G. Mc DRE, a collaboration album which found Edwards collaborating with Ty Gwydr on one side of the album, and siding up with rap-dub pioneers Llwybr Llaethog on the flipside.
In 1992 the brilliant single Maes E was released, and also a compilation of Peel sessions - subtitled No Aids, No Salmonella And No War In The Gulf. Peel did his best to promote the band, in stark contrast to the Welsh media which mostly seemed to wilfully ignore the band.
By this time Edwards was drinking heavily (a recurrent theme in his life), and was working in a school as a Welsh teacher.
The public probably needed protection against some of Datblygu's revolutionary sentiments. Maes E popped up on the third Datblygu album Libertino in 1993, with other highlights including Gazpacho and Cân i Gymry (Song For The Welsh) on an exceptionally effective album.
Datblygu bid adieu in 1995 in magnificent style. The Putsch single, released by Ankst, contained Alcohol and the wondrous Amnesia, which summarised their doctrine perfectly and brought to an end to more than a decade of uncompromising, immense music. Genius.
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