#MindTheBand: “I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio” – Word Gets Around

Word Gets Around

Performance (& Cocktails)
Release date: 25 August 1997
UK chart peak: #6
Running time: 42:02
Singles: Looks Like Chaplin, Local Boy in the Photograph (original release – #51, re-issue – #14), More Life in a Tramp’s Vest (#33), A Thousand Trees (#22), Traffic (#20)

Though Word Gets Around ended up performing incredibly well in the UK, eventually going 3x platinum, it didn’t receive a wide global release. The album did reach the top 40 in France (#35), New Zealand (#8), Ireland (#29), and Scotland (#17), however.

Stereophonics burst onto the scene as the Britpop era was on the wane, though didn’t fully conform to that style themselves – instead veering on the slightly heavier side early in their career. In the weeks around the release of Word Gets Around, albums by Texas (White On Blonde), Prodigy (The Fat of the Land), and Oasis (Be Here Now) topped the charts, with Radiohead’s OK Computer and Backstreet’s Back by Backstreet Boys also frequenting the top ten. In the UK singles chart, you could find Will Smith’s Men In Black, and Puff Daddy & Faith Evans’ I’ll Be Missing You at number one, with Bitch by Meredith Brooks, Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, and Jon Bon Jovi’s Queen of New Orleans all featuring in the top ten.

This being the band’s debut album, it features songs about life in a Welsh mining village (Kelly Jones, Stuart Cable & Richard Jones all grew up in Cwmaman) – all songs were written by Kelly Jones.

A Thousand Trees

To me, it speaks volumes that at least three or four songs from this album consistently make it onto the band’s set lists 25 years down the line; though Kelly Jones has undoubtedly evolved as a songwriter (and a prolific one at that), you can’t look past these classics.

The subtlety is saved for later, as the album opens with A Thousand Trees (its quickfire lyrics you either know or you don’t) before heading into possibly the heaviest track of the lot (and one of my favourites), Looks Like Chaplin, and then careening into More Life in a Tramp’s Vest and Local Boy in the Photograph. Though it isn’t his sole songwriting style, it’s songs like these which cemented Jones’ reputation as a narrative-driven lyricist – he has the ability to take the listener on a journey, or engage them in even the most mundane, everyday story.

Traffic is probably the standout track on the record, despite the fact that it’s simply a deep-dive into one person’s imagination as they’re stuck in traffic – the classic people-watcher inventing backstories for everyone around them. Memories of it being performed live also come into play as you listen, thinking back to the big singalong (conducted by Kelly) in the final verse and the feeling of unity as you’re stood or sat watching.

Other highlights of mine are Not Up To YouLast of the Big Time Drinkers (please get this back in the set list!), and Billy Davey’s Daughter; the latter’s simplicity harks back to a folk music style of storytelling – a haunting ballad to end the album.

Roll Up and Shine
The band toured extensively in the year following the album’s release, playing 50 dates across the UK, USA, France, Germany & several other locations – UK dates included sets at the V Festival, and venues such as Portsmouth Pyramids Centre, Assembly Rooms (Derby & Edinburgh), and Hereford Leisure Centre.

Featured image credit: Martyn Goodacre / Getty Images

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Design credit: www.designevo.com

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