Wednesday 27 May 2020

The Lightning Seeds

Most Bands will have one major track that will be the default selection for general radio play.
The Lightning Seeds are one of those bands with TWO milestone (millstone?) tracks.  And both, coincidentally, Football related.
They are either known as:
  • "that band who did the Goal Of The Month tune"
  • "that band that did that "Three Lions" song
But is there more to the Lightning Seeds than those two tunes?
Of course, there is, or I wouldn't be writing this.

The Lightning Seeds started life as an Ian Broudie studio project.  Broudie had been in a couple of Liverpool bands with no real success.  One of these bans was the minimally successful, but influential and revered Big In Japan.  Other members included Bill Drummond, Dave Balfe, Holly Johnson and Clive Langer.
As Big In Japan dissolved and it's members went off to other pastures, Ian Broudie ensconced himself in the studio and began twiddling knobs for Echo and The Bunnymen, Colourfield, The Fall, The Icicle Works, and a fair few others who asked.

The Lightning Seeds were birthed in the studio as an outlet for his songwriting - their first album 'Cloudcuckooland' was written, performed, arranged, and produced by the man himself.
The album was released in 1990, and Broudie went back to his production day-job - seemingly with no intent of following it up, or putting a band together to further exploit his music and songs.
'Cloudcuckooland' was a one-off deal with Rough Trade - Virgin entered the picture and he signed a deal with them.  To flesh out the "band" he pulled in his co-producer Simon Rogers.  He also re-kindled a friendship with Terry Hall (from The Specials, and latterly in Colourfield) and together they wrote a cache of songs fro the new album.
'Sense' came in 1992, and included that song which would end up being played at least once a month on Saturday Night BBC.
Despite it's modest success (and no doubt bouyed by the constant attention given to "Life Of Riley"), a full band was assembled (primarily for touring purposes - the studio remained the domain of Broudie and Rogers for the moment) and 'Jollification' came in 1994.
There's joy and confidence in equal measure in these songs, and gives a home to some of their best singles, notably "Lucky You" and "Change".

After 'Jollification', and while recording next album 'Dizzy Heights', The Football Association came calling.  Ian Broudie's music was paired with the football fan lyrics of David Baddiel and Frank Skinner.
The resulting song - 'Three Lions' - captured the mood of Euro 96, and has subsequently been re-recorded and re-released in 1998 and 2010 (and is also re-heard and re-played every 2 years when a major Football championship happens (and it still hasn't come home).

They returned to the studio and completed 'Dizzy Heights' which is as strong as their previous records.  Their stock had never been higher and the first 3 singles lifted gave them their biggest chart placings.
The formula remains the same - bright melodies, and clean production - but 'Dizzy Heights' added an element of psychedelia and a more retro-ish sound into the mix (although I have to admit it is veering towards Oasis-lite in a couple of places).
The success of "Three Lions" and the (reflected?) success of The Lightning Seeds din't sit altogether comfortably with Ian Broudie - he returned to the studio with songwriting cohorts including Terry Hall and Steven Jones (Babybird).  The resultant album 'Tilt' (1999) was as much a product of the studio as it was a full band album.
If I'm honest, it's only in the last month I've heard this album, so probably too soon to give a critical review (or indeed any sort of review).  What I can say is it is a bit of a departure from the Bripop-ish Indie Guitar album one would be expecting.  The style is more focussed towards the dancefloor and electronica (although Broudie's vocals don't veer too much from the norm).
Despite this style change, under it all is still Lightning Seeds calling card - damn fine pop music.
After 'Tilt', The Lightning Seeds name was effectively retied, and Broudie was again returned to the Producers chair.
Now ... in a case of terrible research on my part, I haven't heard 2009s 'Four Winds' - the brief bits I have heard suggest the sound is still there, maybe a little more folk/blues infused than before, and maybe a little less sheen.

The Lightning Seeds will always be associated with these two Football related songs, but there is plenty more in their canon to keep the casual observer interested
(and present an old duffer with an 11 year old album that he hasn't heard yet, but feels he should explore more)


Life Of Riley


Sugar Coated Iceberg


  1. The two "football songs" are fine, but they did far better. For me Marvellous is one of the best pop songs of the 90s, although the album version takes ages to get going.

    1. Marvellous is properly marvellous - it was on my shortlist for "YouTube illustration"