Following several years in Throwing Muses, as well as a brief detour in the Breeders in 1990, Tanya Donelly formed her own band, Belly, in 1992. With Belly, Donelly expanded her dreamy pop hooks into more concise, catchy songs, as well as harder-edged rock. The band's 1993 debut, Star, became one of the first beneficiaries of the commercialization of alternative rock; it rode to gold status within its first year of release, as "Feed the Tree" made headway on mainstream pop radio. Despite their strong start, Belly never became genuine stars, and once their 1995 follow-up, King, bombed, Donelly disbanded the group.
Donelly (vocals, guitar) broke away from Throwing Muses in late 1991, forming Belly with fellow ex-Muse Fred Abong (bass), drummer Chris Gorman, and his guitarist brother Tom. Donelly hired Pixies producer Gil Norton to work on the group's debut EP, Slow Dust, which confirmed that her dream pop sensibilities had more hooks than many of her peers. Slow Dust reached number one on the British indie charts in early 1992, and two other EPs followed that year, generating strong word of mouth. Belly's debut album, Star, was released in February of 1993 to strong reviews, and its first single, "Feed the Tree," reached the U.K. Top 40, helping the album enter the British charts at number two. Shortly afterward, the single became a crossover hit in the U.S. The band added Gail Greenwood as bassist -- Abong left the band during the recording of Star -- that spring, and spent the remainder of 1993 on tour, helping send the album to gold status in America.
During 1994, Belly recorded their second album with classic rock producer Glyn Johns. The resulting record, King, was more rock-oriented than its predecessor, partially because of Johns' work and partially because of Greenwood, who was a harder rocker than Donelly. King was expected to be Belly's breakthrough into the mainstream, yet was greeted with mixed reviews upon its spring release and quickly fell off the charts. In the wake of its failure, Donelly disbanded Belly in 1996, releasing her first solo EP, Sliding and Diving, at the end of the year. Greenwood joined L7 by the end of the year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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