This is a British group who had various successes, before suddenly hitting the big time, with one hit that will always overshadow their others. By the time that The Lightning Seeds formed, frontman Ian Broudie had already been in the music business for several years. He had previously been in the group Big In Japan (and no, they never recorded a song called “Alphaville”, stop it), along with contributing to several albums (including the one by Bette “Mrs Suggs” Bright).
In July 1989, “Pure” was their first hit single, which reached no. 16, and this was also their first and only Top 40 hit in America. After a few flops in 1990, they returned in March 1992 with “The Life Of Riley”, which reached no. 20. This would eventually become better known as the theme to Goal Of The Month on Match Of The Day, and Danny Baker when he had a career said that he played an instrument on this, but then he once insisted that he was joining EastEnders as Alfie Moon’s brother, so I don’t really believe him.
There were further hits throughout the mid-90s, including “Sense”, “Lucky You” (which was also used as the theme to a game on Mark And Lard’s BBC Radio 1 show, and made the Top 40 at the second attempt), “Change”, “Marvellous” (which seemed to be used on a lot of adverts), “Perfect”, and “Ready Or Not”. But these were all fairly modest successes, plenty of them making the Top 20, but none the Top Ten. Then, in June 1996, Broudie was invented to perform the anthem for England at Euro ’96.
Also contributing would be Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, the hosts of BBC2’s Fantasy Football League. “Three Lions” turned out to be a big success, becoming an enduring chart-topper. Then there was a return to the smaller-sized hits with “What If” and “Sugar Coated Iceberg”. And then in April 1997, “You Showed Me” was released, a cover of a 60s song which had been a hit for Salt-N-Pepa earlier in the decade. This reached no. 8, to become their first and only non-“Three Lions” Top Ten hit. So it was a surprise that next single “What You Say” missed the Top 40.
But then something rather odd happened. In November 1999 “Life’s Too Short” was released, which launched a new sound for The Lightning Seeds, and a new image. This was in much more of a dance direction, and Broudie no longer wore glasses or had a beard, which people thought was rather weird. And they also wondered why Broudie, who was now in his 40s, suddenly wanted to make songs that sounded like Daft Punk and the like, when he was always going to come off second best.
In March 2000 “Sweet Soul Sensations” was released. This got nowhere near the Top 40, but this is redeemed by the fact that him who used to be in Hollyoaks appeared in the video, and anyone who gives him work has to be commended. Since then, Broudie has concentrated on his production work, and every couple of years, “Three Lions”, the song that must now be his pension, returns to the chart as anticipation for another football tournament increases.