Lemon Jelly – Lost Horizons

Celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this week is Lemon Jelly‘s groundbreaking debut Lost Horizons. Following a number of early singles and the exemplary 2000 compilation Lemonjelly.ky, the first full album finally appeared in 2002, heralded by the brilliant single Space Walk.

As with the first album, the theme here is very much one of long, spacious, laid back music – there are just eight tracks in total, and two of them clock in at around nine minutes. One of those is the lovely Elements, a long and gentle piece built around a somewhat liberal list of elements. Eventually, it mixes into the glorious child-like chimes of Space Walk, which scraped into the lower reaches of the UK top 40 just before the album appeared. It’s not a likely hit, but it is a wonderful track.

I’ve commented before on the exquisite nature of Lemon Jelly‘s packaging – and it doesn’t just apply to the albums, as I can’t think of anyone else offhand who has packaged a single in denim. Lost Horizons is no exception – the cartoon landscape unfolds beautifully over the three-face gatefold sleeve.

There’s really nothing to fault on this album, but my favourite track is probably Ramblin’ Man, perhaps just because it resonates with my travels over the last few years. It arrives with the loud sound of a passing car, and continues in wonderful style, as actor John Standing (who also turned up as the voice of Elements) lists the places he has travelled in his lifetime. In a rather brilliant Easter Egg, one section halfway through the lyrics spells out “Bagpuss sees all things” if you take the first letter of each place name. Yes, really.

This mixes into the rhythmic Return to Patagonia, a nod to Homage to Patagonia, from the previous album. It’s still pretty relaxed, but a lot more manic than anything we have heard so far on this album, and the slightly menacing Soviet-style men’s choir that appears towards the end is a brilliant touch.

Nice Weather for Ducks was, of course, Lemon Jelly‘s big hit single, peaking at number 16 in February 2003. On the album, it appears as an extended version, and has a distinctly odd feel – you can immediately see why it was a hit, but at the same time it’s tempting to wonder why on earth what’s essentially a children’s song got quite so much radio airplay.

After a nice bit of noise from a vinyl repeating groove, we get the distinctly creepy Experiment Number 6, a slightly jazzy and very experimental piece which mixes into the drifting Closer. It’s hard to escape the feeling that on any other album these might be standout tracks, but the level of quality is so high here, that they seem to fade into the background slightly.

Finally, we reach the longest track on the album, The Curse of Ka’Zar. This is one of the more rhythmic pieces on here, but doesn’t rattle along at anywhere near the pace of some of the others. It’s a great, laid back closing track to a fantastic album.

After Lost HorizonsLemon Jelly reappeared a couple of years later with one last album, ’64-’95, before disappearing, seemingly for good. With the benefit of age, there’s a part of me that wishes that they don’t try to mount a comeback at some point in the future, as they really were so good while they were around, but then they also deserve to be much better known than they are. Maybe one day we’ll hear from them again.

You can still find Lost Horizons at all major retailers – try to find the gatefold version if you have the choice.

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Retro chart for stowaways – 26 February 2005

Here are the top ten albums from eleven years ago:

  1. Mylo – Destroy Rock & Roll
  2. Erasure – Nightbird
  3. Client – City
  4. The Chemical Brothers – Push the Button
  5. Bent – Ariels
  6. Lemon Jelly – ’64-’95
  7. Depeche Mode – The Remixes 81-04
  8. Kylie Minogue – Ultimate Kylie
  9. Girls Aloud – What Will the Neighbours Say?
  10. Dirty Vegas – One

Lemon Jelly – Lemonjelly.ky

Long before they were famous for Nice Weather for DucksLemon Jelly started their career with a series of 10″ singles, which, with some slight reworking, would ultimately become 2000’s Lemonjelly.ky. As with their other two albums, the original comes in impeccable packaging, so right from the start you’ll find it difficult not to be charmed.

Having finally opened the package, the album opens with the brilliant In the Bath, a lovely chilled out piece with just the occasional vocal interlude, enquiring “what do you do in the bath?” in various sampled forms. It’s followed by Nervous Tension, which uses a self-help tape as the backbone for an entirely pleasant relaxing piece of music.

The sound of the sea elephant (and he’s a big fellow, apparently) brings us to the curiously named A Tune for Jack, which with its rippling piano parts has to be one of the most iconic and memorable pieces on here. But they’re so relaxed that they can easily drift by, and His Majesty King Raam is upon you before you know it.

The Staunton Lick is next, as featured in Spaced. You would never necessarily know this when listening to the album, but we’re actually running through the three debut EPs in order here, and The Staunton Lick forms the centrepiece of the second, The Yellow EP. It’s difficult not to love this track – it could really fit anywhere. On Spaced it’s background music, albeit to a particularly key scene. As a listener, you could enjoy it as catchy pop music, or as simple ambient music.

That, I think, is the key to Lemon Jelly. Their curious blend of found sounds and catchy pop can be listened to pretty much anywhere, and essentially in any situation.

Homage to Catalonia is next, a gentler, more ambient piece, which one could easily accuse of going nowhere, but it’s also entirely enjoyable. When it breaks down to just the bass towards the end, it goes right through you, before passing the baton to Kneel Before Your God. Perhaps one of the less adventurous tracks on here, it burbles along nicely with the occasional interlude for sinister laughter, which finally takes over completely right at the end.

Page One could easily be missed by the inattentive as well, although the somewhat daft vocal samples help it stand out a little, and final track Come is laid back in the extreme. By the last couple of tracks, this album might have passed its best, but it still has a lovely atmosphere to offer.

I’ve mused before about how disappointing it is that Lemon Jelly appear to have cut their careers so short – after a couple of years’ build up, Lemonjelly.ky appeared in 2000, followed by their first studio album Lost Horizons in 2002, and the darkly intriguing ’64-’95 in 2005. But with that, they were gone, and that’s a great shame, as they were really rather good, and Lemonjelly.ky got them off to a great start.

You can still find Lemonjelly.ky all over the place, but you might struggle to find the original packaging. Do so if you can!

Greatest Hits – Volume 6

Time for a quick breather, and a chance to catch up on some of the previous posts that you might have missed. Remember these?

Music for the Masses 38 – 30 April 2005

The Live Bit, launched only the preceding week as a new feature, quickly turned out to be way too much trouble and was downsized to just one track, but the Electromix would continue for the rest of the show’s run, this week starring Leeds’s own Utah Saints as the centrepiece.

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Show 38: Sat 30 Apr 2005, from 6:00pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Apollo 440.

  • Moloko – The Time is Now
  • System F – Insolation
  • Faithless feat. Boy George – Why Go?
  • Röyksopp – Remind Me (Someone Else’s Remix)
  • Apollo 440 – Astral America
  • Mylo – In My Arms (Sharam Jey Remix)
  • The Clarke & Ware Experiment – Communication (from Music for Multiple Dimensions)
  • New Order feat. Ana Matronic – Jetstream (Richard X Remix)
  • LCD Soundsystem – Disco Infiltrator
  • Heaven 17 – Being Boiled (Live) [The Live Bit]
  • Amorphous Androgynous – The Mello Hippo Disco Show
  • Apollo 440 – Pain in Any Language
  • Moby – I Like It
  • M83 – Teen Angst (Montag Mix)
  • Lemon Jelly – Make Things Right
  • The Flirts – Passion
  • Apollo 440 – Heart Go Boom
  • Ladytron – Blue Jeans [Electromix]
  • Utah Saints – Love Song [Electromix]
  • Piney Gir – Girl [Electromix]
  • Jam & Spoon feat. Rea – Be Angeled

The Electromix feature from this show still exists, and will be included on a future Playlist for stowaways.

Music for the Masses 37 – 23 April 2005

The post-Easter run of shows introduced two new features, both pre-recorded mixes. The Live Bit consisted of ten minutes or so of live material, while the Electromix was a trio of dark electronic tracks mixed together. I had a lot of fun with this week’s by trying to censor My Robot Friend‘s track in creative ways.

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Show 37: Sat 23 Apr 2005, from 6:00pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Delerium.

  • Jakatta – American Dream
  • Björk – Army of Me
  • Lemon Jelly – Make Things Right
  • Faithless – Tarantula
  • Delerium – Daylight
  • Alpinestars – Burning Up
  • Portishead – Sour Times
  • Happy Mondays – Hallelujah
  • Groove Armada – At the River (Live) [The Live Bit]
  • Client – White Wedding (Live) [The Live Bit]
  • Erlend Øye – Sudden Rush
  • Paul Keating (Closer to Heaven Original Cast Recording) – Positive Role Model (The Almighty Definitive Mix)
  • Delerium – Fallen
  • Moby – Spiders
  • Everything But The Girl – Mirrorball (Jazzy Jeff Remix)
  • Ultravox – Vienna
  • Tiga & Zyntherius – Sunglasses at Night
  • Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence
  • Death in Vegas – Hands Around My Throat [Electromix]
  • My Robot Friend – Sex Machine [Electromix]
  • Leftfield – Phat Planet [Electromix]
  • Goldfrapp – Hairy Trees

The Live Bit and Electromix features from this show both still exist, and will appear in a future Playlist for stowaways.

Music for the Masses 36 – 16 March 2005

Show 36 was the last before the three week Easter break, and would see Music for the Masses in its springtime Wednesday slot for the last time. Actually, it could have even been the last outing of the show, as the post-holiday scheduling shakeup always meant a few shows dropped out. Fortunately – or unfortunately – it lived on to die another day, this week with New Order as the Artist of the Week.

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Show 36: Wed 16 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: New Order.

  • Chicane – No Ordinary Morning
  • Veto Silver – Neon Lites
  • Mory Kante – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)
  • Sylver – Who Am I?
  • Andy Pickford – Zweifarbig Bomber (Part 2)
  • Télépopmusik – Don’t Look Back
  • New Order – Blue Monday
  • Alizée – Moi… Lolita
  • Ladytron – Seventeen
  • Daft Punk – Robot Rock
  • Vic Twenty – I Sold Your Heart on eBay
  • Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life
  • Annie – Always Too Late
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Depeche Mode – Only When I Lose Myself
  • Dusted – Always Remember to Honour and Respect Your Mother (Part 2)
  • Basement Jaxx – Good Luck
  • Komputer – Looking Down on London
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android – Marvin
  • New Order – Krafty
  • Lemon Jelly – Come Down on Me
  • Lionrock – Rude Boy Rock