International Velvet (album)

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International Velvet
Studio album by Catatonia
Released 2 February 1998
Recorded 1997–1998
Genre Alternative rock
Length 44:56
Label Blanco y Negro
Producer Tommy D, Catatonia
Catatonia chronology
Way Beyond Blue
(1996)
International Velvet
(1998)
Equally Cursed and Blessed
(1999)
Singles from International Velvet
  1. "I am the Mob"
    Released: 18 October 1997
  2. "Mulder and Scully"
    Released: 31 January 1998
  3. "Road Rage"
    Released: 2 May 1998
  4. "Strange Glue"
    Released: 1 August 1998
  5. "Game On"
    Released: 7 November 1998

International Velvet is the second album by Welsh band Catatonia. It was the band's breakthrough album, reaching number 1 in the UK Albums Chart, spawning two Top 10 singles, "Mulder and Scully" and "Road Rage", three other Top 40 singles, "I am the Mob", "Game On" and "Strange Glue", and catapulted the band and lead singer Cerys Matthews into the spotlight. Album sales reached 900,000, as it became one of the biggest selling albums of 1998 in the United Kingdom. The album was also nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

Background[edit]

Catatonia were originally formed in 1992 with Mark Roberts and singer Cerys Matthews being part of the band that released the critically acclaimed EP "For Tinkerbell" in 1993. Drummer Aled Richards and guitarist Owen Powell joined prior to the release of their first album Way Beyond Blue and the line-up remained the same for International Velvet.[1][2] Warner Bros. Records had intended to release "Lost Cat" from Way Beyond Blue in the United States in 1996, but due to problems at the record label the band had never released anything in the US until International Velvet.[3]

Release[edit]

International Velvet was released in the United Kingdom on 2 February 1998, following the earlier releases of both "I am the Mob" the previous October and "Mulder and Scully" a few days earlier. It was awarded 3x Platinum status by the British Phonographic Industry on 12 November 1999,[4] meaning that in 22 months it had sold over 900,000 copies.[5] The album was Catatonia's released in the United States by the Vapor label owned by Neil Young, but it did not chart and according The Washington Post was "overlooked".[6] It was Catatonia's first album release in the United States.[7] The success of the album was seen as launching the band into the public spotlight.[8]

Five singles were released from the album. "I am the Mob" was released on 18 October 2007, and became the first single to reach the top 40 in the United Kingdom having reached number 40 in the chart.[9] "Mulder and Scully" became their breakout hit, reaching number three in the charts and subsequent single "Road Rage" reaching number five. The final two singles did not reach the top ten, with "Strange Glue" getting to number 11 and "Game On" only reaching number 33.[9] As part of the opening ceremony for the 1999 Rugby World Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Catatonia performed the title track from the album.[10] That track had become an unofficial Welsh anthem due in part to the chorus "Every day when I wake up I thank the Lord I'm Welsh".[11] To promote the album, the band undertook its biggest tour to date.[8]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[12]
NME (6/10)[13]
Pitchfork Media (7.8/10)[14]
Select 4/5 stars[15]
The Independent 3/5 stars[16]

The review of NME said that International Velvet showed Catatonia "to be more versatile than you ever thought possible for such a white-bread guitar group".[13] It was said that while "I Am The Mob" and "Road Rage" were "out-and-out pop songs",[13] "My Selfish Gene" was a "masterstroke".[13] However, the review said that where Catatonia performed "typical guitar pop" they lacked excitement.[13] In his review for AllMusic, Steve Thomas Erlewine thought that the album failed "as often as it succeeds" in changing the band's sound from a late-80's indie pop to something more akin to hard rock.[12] He thought that "I am the Mob" and "Mulder and Scully" had good hooks but were gimmicky and found it hard to understand all the pop culture references. Overall, he felt that the previous album, Way Beyond Blue delivered a better experience.[12] The Washington Post review thought that International Velvet wasn't as consistent as it's predecessor but included it in a list of the best albums of 1998.[17]

The album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize 1998,[18] which was awarded to Gomez for Bring It On.[19] DJ Steve Lamacq hosted a special on International Velvet on his BBC Radio 6 Music series Classic Albums of the 90s in 2010.[20]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Mulder and Scully"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 4:11
2. "Game On"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 2:51
3. "I am the Mob"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 3:09
4. "Road Rage"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 5:09
5. "Johnny Come Lately"   Billy Strayhorn, Catatonia 4:36
6. "Goldfish And Paracetamol"   Cerys Mattews, Paul Jones 3:50
7. "International Velvet"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 4:23
8. "Why I Can't Stand One Night Stands"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 2:40
9. "Part of the Furniture"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 4:08
10. "Don't Need the Sunshine"   Catatonia, Owen Jones 3:49
11. "Strange Glue"   Catatonia, Owen Jones 3:44
12. "My Selfish Gene"   Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts 2:27
Total length:
44:56

Personnel[edit]

  • Cerys Matthews – vocals
  • Mark Roberts – guitar
  • Paul Jones – bass
  • Owen Powell – guitar
  • Aled Richards – drums
  • Tommy D - producer, mixing
  • Joe Gibb - engineer, mixing
  • Jason Harris - assistant engineer
  • Paul Read - engineering on "Game On"
  • Greg Haver - engineering on "Johnny Come Lately"
  • Roland Herrington - mixing on "Mulder and Scully", "Game On", "Road Rage" and "Strange Glue"
  • Dave Bascombe - mixing on "I am the Mob"
  • Joseph Cultice - photography
  • Nigel Schermuly - photography

Charts and certifications[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Song Peak positions
AUS[21]
IRE[23]
UK[9]
1997 "I am the Mob" 40
1998 "Mulder and Scully" 17 3
"Road Rage" 40 29 5
"Strange Glue" 11
"Game On" 33
  • An en-dash (–) denotes countries in which the singles were not released or did not chart.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Troubled Catatonia split up". BBC News. 21 September 2001. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Cool Cerys comes top". BBC News. 8 June 1999. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Label misses chance to distribute hit song". The New York Times. 14 August 1998. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Gold/Platinum Certifications for BPI". BPI. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Certified Awards – Certification Levels". BPI. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Jenkins, Mark (29 March 2000). "Catatonia: Time to wake America". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Jenkins, Mark (9 August 1998). "Welsh Band Catatonia: Internationalists Abroad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Cerys in Control". The Daily Telegraph. 25 March 1999. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Catatonia". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "World Cup Kicks off in Style". BBC News. 1 October 1999. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Bourton, Tim (17 July 2004). "Cerys makes festival return". BBC News. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review: International Velvet – Catatonia". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Review: International Velvet". NME. 23 January 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Pitchfork Media review
  15. ^ Wilkinson, Roy. "Review: Catatonia – International Velvet, Blanco Y Negro". Select (EMAP Metro) (March 1998): 85. 
  16. ^ Lewis, Angela (7 February 1998). "Review: Catatonia: International Velvet (WEA)". Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  17. ^ "The Best of 1998: Music". The Washington Post. 1 January 1999. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  18. ^ "Albums of the Year: 1998". Mercury Prize. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "Mercury Rising: Gomez Win '98 Album Prize". NME. 17 August 1998. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "Classic Albums of the 90s: Catatonia – International Velvet". BBC Radio 6 Music. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Catatonia – International Velvet". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Steffen Hung. "Catatonia – International Velvet". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "Search the Charts". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mezzanine by Massive Attack
UK number one album
16 May 1998 – 22 May 1998
Succeeded by
Version 2.0 by Garbage