The Lightning Seeds - Biography
The Lightning Seeds are a Liverpuddlian pop band formed by Ian Broudie. Though they specialize in lush, earnest, unabashedly pop neo-psychedelia, they’ve never been mere revivalists and almost always incorporated pronounced synthpop and dance undertones.
The Lightning Seeds’ main man is Ian Broudie, a singer, songwriter, musican and producer born in Liverpool in August 4th, 1958. He first appeared on the music scene as bard of Big In Japan. He later performed in Original Mirrors and Care as well as produced albums by Echo & the Bunnymen, The Fall, The Icicle Works, Wha!, Frazier Chorus and Shack. He began recording solo under the name Lightning Seeds in 1989 and almost immediately scored a hit with the song “Pure”, which appeared on his debut, Cloudcuckooland (1989 Ghetto) "Joy" and "All I Want" didn’t sell as well. The same year, Broudie re-joined his former bandmate from Care, Paul Simpson, and played on and produced his album, Spaceflower.
After Rough Trade (Ghetto’s distributor) collapsed, Lightning Seeds signed to Virgin, who released the album, Sense (1992 Virgin). The album marked the beginning of Broudie’s working relationship with Terry Hall, whom he’d first encountered in the latter’s days in Colourfield. For some reason, some of the songs recorded for the album were pulled. “It's Better This Way” only appeared on a Melody Maker compilation, Gigantic 2. “It's Better This Way” was included on pre-released acetates but not the final album. The end result was moderately successful, but not enough for Virgin, who dropped them.
Meanwhile, Epic was interested and signed Lightning Seeds on the condition that Broudie limit his outside production, focus on his band, and form a band to promote his releases with tours. Following his work on Alison Moyet's Essex and Terry Hall’s Home, Broudie recorded Jollification (1994 Epic) with contributions from Hall, Simon Rogers and Ian McNabb. In August, Broudie recruited guitarist Paul Hemmings (ex-The La’s), drummer Chris Sharrock (ex-The La’s, and Icicle Works), bassist Martyn Campbell (ex-Rain) and keyboardist Ali Kane and toured. "Change" provided Broudie with his second Top 20 hit.
The first recording by the band version of Lightning Seeds was the single, “Ready or Not.” They wrote and recorded a host of new material in Eel Pie Studios, which they purchased from Pete Townshend, but the rest were halted. Lightning Seeds didn’t return until 1996, when they commissioned to write theme music for the Euro '96 football tournament. Joined by comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, the resut was “Three Lions,” which became their first number one. A cover version of The Turtles’ (Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn composition) "You Showed Me" was another hit. When Dizzy Heights (1996 Epic) surfaced, it included some of their recordings from the sessions two years earlier. It reached number eleven and it spawned two more Top 20s, "What If..." and "Sugar Coated Iceberg." Between 1996 and 1997 the band's line-up changed. Sharrock left to join World Party and was replaced by Keith York and Mat Priest from Dodgy. Angie Pollock, (ex-Shakespears Sister), replaced Kane on keyboards.
Meanwhile, Virgin, who’d mishandled Lightning Seeds and unceremoniously dropped them, released a slipshod compilation to capitalize on their success called Pure Lightning Seeds, although they managed to misspell Broudie’s name. Epic released a more carefully compiled selection, Like You Do... (1997 Epic) this included two new songs, “What You Say” and “Brain Drain.” Midway through the suppor tour, Zak Starkey replaced Priest on drums.
The next album, Tilt (1999 Epic), was their danciest, with contributions from Steven Jones and Tim Simenon. "Life's Too Short" was a modest hit but “Sweetest Soul Sensations" fared poorly. After a performance with Space and Stereophonics at Cream 2000, Broudie confirmed in the Liverpool Echo that the Lightning Seeds would be going on hiatus. They played a farewell tour at Liverpool's L2 and at a small series of universities.
After ending Lightning Seeds, Broudie returned to production, working with The Coral and The Zutons before releasing a pared down, folk-rock solo album, Tales Told (2004 Deltasonic). In 2006, Broudie unveiled a new line-up of Lightning Seeds for a series of shows. A studio album Four Winds (2009 Universal), followed the dissolution of Broudie’s marriage, the death of his parents and sister and the suicide of his brother. It was, not surprisingly, the group’s most somber release. They spent 2010 touring, both as headliners and supporting Squeeze.