The British band the Lightning Seeds is noted for crafting intelligent, hummable pop tunes in a style reminiscent of—and incorporating elements of—the Smiths, the Bee Gees, the Searchers, the Sweet, the Hermits, XTC, the Pet Shop Boys, and World Party. Immensely popular in Britain, where leader Ian Broudie wrote hit songs for television shows and soccer teams, the band was poised for a niche success in the United States in 1997. Rick Shefchikof the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted, “The Lightning Seeds are too musical for alternative rock formats, too soft for heavy metal, too new for AOR, and not dancy enough for Top 40… nearly every song [on Dizzy Heights] sounds like a single, if only singles sounded like this anymore.”
When Jollification was released in September of 1994, the band consisted only of Ian Broudie of Liverpool; more than 600,000 copies of the album were sold in the U.K. alone and it earned double-platinum selling status. Broudie decided to form a band three months after Jollification’s release in order to perform his songs live. In 1994 he formed a full-time band with bass player Martyn Cambell (ex-Rain member), guitarist Paul Hemmings (ex-The La’s member), and drummer Chris Sharrock (formerly with the Icicle Works). The singles “Lucky You,” “Change,” and “Marvellous,” attracted new listeners and avid fans, and being able to tour throughout the U.K. and Europe garnered needed publicity and generated favorable reviews for the band.
In 1995 four singles from Jollification reached the Top 30 on the U.K. charts; “Change” was their biggest hit, followed by “Marvellous,” “Perfect,” and the re-released “Lucky You.” The band toured Europe with Dodgy, performed at Glastonbury, and appeared on the television shows Top of the Pops and MTV’s Most Wanted in 1995. Broudie also produced the Sleeper’s debut album, Smart and Salad’s single, “Granite Statue,” in addition to appearing on Terry Hall’s Rainbow album in 1995.
The Lightning Seeds were nominated, along with the (winning) band Oasis, for the 1996 Brit Award for Best British Band. They released Dizzy Heights in 1996, which reached #11 on the U.K. charts, and the band the Scanners released a dance cover of the Lightning Seeds single “Pure.” Contributing to the band’s higher profile in the U.S. was the inclusion of their single “You Showed Me,” (a Turtles classic), from their Dizzy Heights album in the blockbuster Mike Myers comedy, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Broudie, born in Liverpool in 1959, became a member of the Liverpool-based punk band Big In Japan in 1977. His band members included Holly Johnson, Bill Drummond, and Budgie, later founders of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The KLF, and Siouxsie & the Banshees respectively. The band stayed together for only a year, and Broudie then joined the Original Mirrors. In 1980 and 1981 Broudie produced the first two Echo & the Bunnymen albums, Crocodiles and Heaven up Here. He also produced at least three releases by The Fall: Wahl, Northside, and The Primitives.
In 1983 Broudie and Paul Simpson, formerly of the Wild Swans, founded the duo Care and were signed to the independent label Ghetto. They released two singles, “Flaming Sword,” and “My Boyish Days,” but met with no commercial success. In 1984 Care released their final single, “Whatever Possessed You,” and parted ways. Three years later Broudie produced The Icicle Works’ strongest album, If You Want to Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Song, and also produced the first and only album released by The Bodines, Played.
Broudie founded the Lightning Seeds in 1989 as the band’s sole member, using temporary musical help from time to time. He released the singles “Joy” and “Pure” the same year; “Pure” reached #16 on the U.K. charts and eventually became a hit in the United States as well. A year later Broudie released the album Cloud-cuckooland on the Ghetto label, with Paul Simpson,
For the Record…
Band members include Ian Broudie (born 1959, Liverpool, UK, 1959), producer, singer, songwriter, guitarist; Martyn Campbell (formerly with Rain), bassist; Paul Hemmings (formerly with The La’s), guitarist; Chris Sharrock (formerly with Icicle Works), drummer.
Band formed, 1989; released Cloudcuckooland, 1990, Sense, 1992, Jollification, 1994, and Dizzy Heights, 1996; Jollification was released with Ian Broudie as the sole member of the band; more than 600,000 copies of the album were sold in the UK and it earned double-platinum selling status; four singles from Jollification reached the Top 30 on the UK charts, band appeared on the television shows Top of the Pops and MTV’s Most Wanted, 1995; “You Showed Me,” (a Turtles classic) from Dizzy Heights was included in the film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, 1997.
Chris Sharrock, and Ian McNabb as Lightning Seed members. Broudie also produced and played lead guitar on the final Wild Swans album, Spaceflower in 1990.
In 1991 Broudie produced Ray for Frazier Chorus and co-produced Jolie for Bill Pritchard. The Lightning Seeds released Sense on the Ghetto/Virgin label in 1992; two of the albums’ singles, “Life of Riley” (inspired by Broudie’s son), and “Sense” reached the Top 30 on the U.K. charts. “The Life of Riley” soundtracks the goals on the popular U.K. soccer television show, Match of the Day, which further ingratiated the band with their U.K. fans. In 1992 Broudie also produced the Dodgy debut release The Dodgy Album and the Pop-pinjays’ Flying Down to Mono Valey (sic), as well as tracks for Wedding Present’s Hit Parade. A year later, he produced the debut album by The Frank and Walters, Trains, Boats, and Planes, and co-produced Alison Moyet’s Essex release.
In 1994 the Lightning seeds were signed by Epic Records and the band released its third album, Jollification, preceded by the “Lucky You” single. Their subsequent Dizzy Heights release in 1996 was lauded in Britain, but American tastes in pop rock didn’t always seem to run as sweet. A review of the album in the Baton Rouge Advocate declared, “Superbly crafted though it is, the Lightning Seeds’ Brit pop may be a bit fluffy for American listeners accustomed to rougher edges.” Mark Jenkins of Time Out New York wrote, “the album takes honey-glazed melody as its basic concept; a song like ‘Sugar Coated Iceberg’ is ‘Sugar Sugar’ gone to college… At its most cogent, Dizzy Heights is all spun-sugar ornament; substance can only spoil the recipe.” However, John Kappes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer dubbed the Lightning Seeds “New Order without Angst, with considerable sparkle” and Tony Mastrianni of The Messenger wrote of Dizzy Heights, “A Smashing U.S. release [that] may out pop Oasis for the current classiest British pop band of late.”
With their inclusion on the Austin Powers soundtrack, their high profile popularity in the U.K., and Broudie’s 20 years musical artistry working on their behalf, the Lightning Seeds are poised to invade the American charts. As the band’s past experience indicates, it’s only a matter of time before the public catches up to them.
Cloudcuckooland, Ghetto Records, 1990.
Sense, Ghetto/Virgin Records, 1992.
Jollification, Epic records, 1994.
Dizzy Heights, Epic Records, 1996.
(Contributor) Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (soundtrack), Hollywood Records, 1997.
Baton Rouge Advocate, June 13, 1997.
Break, June 18-24, 1997.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 27, 1997.
The Messenger, June 17, 1997.
St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 8, 1997.
Time Out New York, July 3-10, 1997.
—B. Kimberly Taylor
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