Review: The Lightning Seeds – Jollification
A rare classic pop album from Britpop shows why, 25 years on, we need Ian Broudie more than ever…
Considering its name, there weren’t exactly that many great pop acts operating in Britpop. True, the remarkable four-year period from Suede arriving in 1992 until the fame comedown in 1997 was a space race of incredible singles.
But it was the result of indie music smartening up and deciding to dominate the proper charts, in league with an already-thriving dance scene, not the traditional pop sector. The Lightning Seeds was a different prospect.
An artist who predated even the most flexible definition of Britpop’s existence, Ian Broudie had been producing great artists like Echo And The Bunnymen, Shack and The Pale Fountains for years, dabbling in performing with short-lived duo Care, whose 1983 single Flaming Sword is a buried gem.
Branching out properly as The Lightning Seeds, Broudie’s alias allowed him the flexibility to add band members if he wished. While Pure is a classic debut single and second album Sense is seriously undervalued, Jollification is where everything successfully coalesced for Broudie. With Britain now ready for great pop singles again, Ian was in his element. Alison Moyet is at her imperious best guesting on break-up drama My Best Day, yet it didn’t make the cut as one of Jollification’s five singles.
Terry Hall, whose debut solo album (Home) Broudie was producing at the same time, is on backing vocals along with Ocean Colour Scene’s Simon Fowler. Yet it’s Broudie’s wistful voice which makes the album. He rivals Neil Tennant and Mike Skinner for “Iffy singers who somehow sound amazing”, giving Lucky You and Marvellous swathes of melancholy.
There are funk touches in the shuffling Open Goals (with Moyet present again, on backing vocals), and a grandiose sweep to the closing Telling Tales. Mostly, though, for all the gloom cloaked in the lyrics, Jollification is where the 36-year-old Ian Broudie became a brilliant pop star. The 25th anniversary edition adds Marvellous’ atypically rocky B-side Lucifer Sam and an acoustic version of Perfect, on a 7″ with the vinyl version, which also features a strawberry-scented sleeve like the original CD, as well as strawberry-coloured vinyl.
In the album’s wake, the FA chose Broudie to write England’s theme song for Euro 96. We all know what happened next. To an extent, Broudie’s never recovered, starting to second-guess himself and not releasing an album since 2009. But he vows he’s nearly finished a new record, and festival shows over the past few years have seen him at his ease with his past at last.If he can make an album to rival Jollification, it’ll be jolly good news all round.
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