Ffa Coffi Pawb
fa Coffi Pawb are surprisingly uncontroversial and inoffensive for a band whose welsh name phonetically translates as “Fuck off Everybody”. Knowing that the band featured a pre Super Furry Animals Gruff and Dafydd from should clear up any quizzical thoughts on how the welding together of an off kilter sense of humour, individualism and a huge bucket of melodies worked so well.
The Seventeen songs here definitely show the budding roots of the sound that SFA have become known for, albeit with a heavier reliance on fully formed songs as opposed to experimentalism or sonic spanners in the works. There are flashes and toes dipped into odd mixing tricks like the wobbly underwater bonus track “Tocyn” but this collection is mostly informed by pop/rock and those hoping for unnecessary weird will inevitably be bummed out by Am Byth. There are heavy doses here of sixties pop, Donovan style folk and more explicit influences like Happy Mondays, the Glitter band and T-Rex and a dab of Jesus and Mary Chain (see the 42 second long “Llosgi ‘N Nhy I Lawr”).
Whether you understand what Gruff is singing about on a track like “Breichiau Hir” or not is missing the whole point (there are translated sleeve notes to help if you simply must know), these are great songs in any language. The lack of comprehension should never get in the way of love. If it was not for the fact the UK music buying public are pretty much (with a few exceptions; Mwng and “Joe Le taxi”) totally notoriously distrustful of any songs sung in anything other than English, they would have been huge, at least on the indie circuit as opposed to being an SFA discography footnote.
On the barely perceptible downside there is the issue of sound quality that the band happily discusses in the collections sleeve notes. If you don’t care for hums, crackles and are the sort of person who despises 160 k bits mp3s or vinyl because of minute losses in quality then audiophile beware! Some of Am Byth is mastered directly from the only remaining sources of these records i.e. cassettes and other dubious / rare sources. But where the band’s legacy will always miss out on awards for professionalism or pristine remastered quality they made up for it with tunes, simple but effective musical ideas and an ethic (that lived on with SFA) that clever and pop can go hand in hand.
If you like Super Furry Animals then you need to get this compilation immediately to complete the early years gaping in your collection. If you don’t like Super Furry Animals…are you serious?