Marsheaux – E-bay Queen

Marsheaux are, for me, fascinatingly enigmatic. They’re a Greek female duo, who I really know nothing about. Their debut E-bay Queen was released fifteen years ago this week, and it’s really hard to know what to make of it. It encourages you, somehow, to just close your eyes and enjoy it at face value – and that can only ever be a good thing.

It opens with M.A.R.S.H.E.A.U.X., the beautifully squawky band manifesto. Apart from the eponymous initials, it’s a thumping electro instrumental, with some great acid noises that appear halfway through. You would not, I think, buy an album just for this, and with that in mind, it’s confusing that anybody bought this in the first place, because there weren’t any singles either, but it’s definitely good.

It isn’t until Flash Lights that things really start to make sense. We know now, of course, that this isn’t Marsheaux‘s finest work, but it’s still enough to hook you in as a listener, and even if the “follow the tits” instruction in the lyrics is somewhat crass, there’s still plenty to enjoy here.

And it keeps getting better – for the first time, Shake Me is a track that quickly shows itself to be brilliant. With its catchy chorus and rippling synth lines, this nods sweetly to the past without actually being retro, and yet it isn’t exactly contemporary either. This is music for uncomfortable and awkward misfits, the world over. Which, by the way, is very definitely a good thing.

So wouldn’t it be really clever if Marsheaux threw something contemporary and familiar in at this point, just to subvert the pattern the have built already? Something like, say, the Lightning Seeds‘s lovely Pure? So that’s what we get – a great song, given new life with a female vocal and gloriously “pure and simple” synth lines, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s a fantastic rendition of the song, and really deserved to be a huge hit by itself. If only it had ever been released as a single.

Play Boy keeps the run of great tracks going. It’s slower, and perhaps also a little darker, insofar as darkness ever really shows up on this album. It’s hard to define in a way – this is really a pure pop album, but it’s also slightly challenging, subversive pop – something that only comes as an import from Greece. Who knew that Greece had a strong music scene with its own synthpop artists? And with budgets to release items with packaging as beautiful as this, too?

Computer Love is, of course, a bit of a nod to the track of the same name that Kraftwerk debuted in 1981. While there’s little direct homage in the lyrics or sounds, and I’ve never seen them talk about it particularly openly, a lot of the sounds on this album seem to take inspiration from the Düsseldorf quartet – the focus is on tight, clear sounds, not broad pads or sweet, mellow atmospheres. Yet despite that, there’s a certain soft charm.

Tonight is one of my less favourite tracks on here: somehow the synth line is a bit too manic; the hand claps a little too heavily distributed; and for the first time it feels as though you’ve heard this all already. This is a consistent album, certainly, but that comes at a price of some tracks being a little too similar to one another at times. Then, of course, Marsheaux subvert their own form by covering the vocals with some crazy and unusual effects, and you start to wonder whether anything really makes sense any more.

The Game quickly picks things up again, though, with a brilliantly odd blip that doesn’t quite ever seem to be hitting its beat. It’s a lovely song, and possibly for the first time uses softer pad sounds to change the mood somewhat. They aren’t prominent, by any means, but this is a great song. Then comes Analyse, somewhat less subversive but every bit as much fun.

Ola Girizhoun is next, the only track to be sung in Greek. That’s a bit of a shame, really – they’re singing in English in order to make themselves seem more accessible to global audiences, and that absolutely works in their favour, but not without anonymising one of the things that makes them special – they aren’t native English speakers, and hearing them singing in their own language is a treat. Which makes it all the more interesting that this is actually a Chris & Cosey song, where Marsheaux have added their own lyrics. Work that one out.

Hands on Me is a lively piece with resonating synth sounds, but honestly a bit less actual melody than some of the earlier tracks. Then we’re onto the final track already – another cover, this time of the eternal instrumental Popcorn. This was, apparently, a huge radio hit in Greece at the time, and it’s a worthy cover, somehow just managing to stay on the right side of being extremely cheesy. It’s great, but at the same time hard to take very seriously. Maybe that’s a good thing, though – while lovely, and occasionally a little subversive, this seems to have been a pretty serious album up to now.

Five or six albums on, Marsheaux remain enigmatic, always taking unexpected steps. E-bay Queen, with its odd name and entirely unpredictable packaging, is a great debut. It has its weaker moments, but nothing that you could actually call a flaw – which is a very impressive way to kick off your career. But will we ever see them gracing the charts? It seems unlikely, somehow.

Your best option for hearing E-bay Queen is to find the mp3 download.

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NME Award Winners 1994-2018 (Part One)

The final step we need to take with the NME Awards is to summarise all the winners in one single, easy-to-digest place. So, continuing with the part one of two-part NME Poll Winners 1952-1992, let’s do that!

Best and Worst Single, Video and Album Categories

Here are all the winners for specific singles, videos, albums, films, and books!

Best Single / Track

  • 1994 – Radiohead – Creep
  • 1995 – Oasis – Live Forever (Best Single), Blur – Girls and Boys (NME Single of the Year)
  • 1996 – Oasis – Wonderwall (Best Single), Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape (NME Single of the Year)
  • 1997 – Manic Street Preachers – A Design for Life (Best Single), Underworld – Born Slippy (NME Single of the Year)
  • 1998 – The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
  • 1999 – Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  • 2000 – Blur – Tender (Best Single), Aphex Twin – Windowlicker (NME Single of the Year)
  • 2001 – Coldplay – Yellow
  • 2002 – Ash – Burn Baby Burn
  • 2003 – The Vines – Get Free (Best Single), Doves – There Goes the Fear (NME Single of the Year)
  • 2004 – The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
  • 2005 – Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
  • 2006 – Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
  • 2007 – The View – Wasted Little DJs
  • 2008 – Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent
  • 2009 – MGMT – Time to Pretend
  • 2010 – The Big Pink – Dominos
  • 2011 – Foals – Spanish Sahara
  • 2012 – Florence + the Machine – Shake it Out
  • 2013 – Foals – Inhaler
  • 2014 – Disclosure – White Noise
  • 2015 – Jamie T – Zombie
  • 2016 – Wolf Alice – Giant Peach
  • 2017 – Christine and the Queens – Tilted
  • 2018 – Charli XCX – Boys

Best Single Ever

  • 2000 – Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

Best Dance Single / Dancefloor filler / Anthem

  • 1998 – The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up
  • 1999 – Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank
  • 2008 – The Wombats – Let’s Dance to Joy Division
  • 2009 – Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me
  • 2010 – La Roux – In for the Kill (Skream Remix)
  • 2011 – Professor Green – Jungle
  • 2012 – Katy B – Broken Record
  • 2013 – Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing
  • 2015 – Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX – Fancy

Worst Single

  • 1994 – Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)
  • 1995 – Whigfield – Saturday Night
  • 1996 – Robson Green and Jerome Flynn – I Believe
  • 1997 – Spice Girls – Wannabe
  • 1998 – Aqua – Barbie Girl
  • 1999 – Billie Piper – Because We Want To
  • 2000 – The Vengaboys – We’re Going to Ibiza
  • 2003 – Robbie Williams – Feel
  • 2004 – Fast Food Rockers – Fast Food Song

Best Music Video

  • 1995 – Blur – Parklife
  • 1996 – Pulp – Common People
  • 1997 – The Prodigy – Firestarter
  • 1998 – The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
  • 1999 – Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  • 2000 – Blur – Coffee and TV
  • 2002 – Radiohead – Pyramid Song
  • 2003 – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll (Punk Song)
  • 2004 – Radiohead – There There
  • 2005 – Green Day – American Idiot
  • 2006 – Oasis – The Importance of Being Idle
  • 2007 – The Killers – Bones
  • 2008 – Arctic Monkeys – Teddy Picker
  • 2009 – The Last Shadow Puppets – My Mistakes Were Made for You
  • 2010 – Biffy Clyro – The Captain
  • 2011 – My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
  • 2012 – Hurts – Sunday
  • 2013 – Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
  • 2014 – Eagulls – Nerve Endings
  • 2015 – Jamie T – Zombie
  • 2016 – Slaves – Cheer Up London
  • 2017 – Slaves – Consume or Be Consumed
  • 2018 – The Big Moon – Sucker

Best Album / LP

  • 1994 – The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps
  • 1995 – Blur – Parklife (Best Album), Oasis – Definitely Maybe (NME Album of the Year)
  • 1996 – Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (Best Album), Tricky – Maxinquaye (NME Album of the Year)
  • 1997 – Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go (Best Album), Beck – Odelay (NME Album of the Year)
  • 1998 – Radiohead – OK Computer
  • 1999 – Manic Street Preachers – This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours
  • 2000 – The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (Best Album and NME Album of the Year)
  • 2001 – Primal Scream – XTRMNTR
  • 2002 – The Strokes – This is It
  • 2003 – Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head (Best Album and NME Album of the Year)
  • 2004 – Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
  • 2005 – Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
  • 2006 – Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
  • 2007 – Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  • 2008 – Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future
  • 2009 – Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
  • 2010 – Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
  • 2011 – Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
  • 2012 – The Horrors – Skying
  • 2013 – The Maccabees – Given to the Wild
  • 2014 – Arctic Monkeys – AM
  • 2015 – Kasabian – 48:13
  • 2016 – Foals – What Went Down
  • 2017 – Bastille – Wild World
  • 2018 – J Hus – Common Sense

Best Album Ever

  • 2000 – The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

Worst Album

  • 2003 – Robbie Williams – Escapology
  • 2005 – Insane Clown Posse – Carnival of Carnage
  • 2006 – James Blunt – Back to Bedlam
  • 2007 – Robbie Williams – Rudebox
  • 2008 – Britney Spears – Blackout
  • 2009 – Jonas Brothers – A Little Bit Longer
  • 2010 – Jonas Brothers – Lines, Vines, and Trying Times
  • 2011 – Justin Bieber – My World
  • 2012 – Justin Bieber – Under the Mistletoe

Best Album Artwork

  • 2004 – Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
  • 2008 – The Good, The Bad & The Queen – The Good, The Bad & The Queen
  • 2009 – Muse – HAARP
  • 2010 – Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
  • 2011 – Klaxons – Surfing the Void
  • 2012 – Friendly Fires – Pala

Best Reissue

  • 2012 – The Smiths – The Complete Re-issues
  • 2013 – Blur – 21
  • 2014 – The Clash – Sound System
  • 2015 – Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
  • 2016 – David Bowie – Five Years (1969-1973)
  • 2017 – Oasis – Be Here Now
  • 2018 – Radiohead – OK NOT OK

Best DVD / Best Music DVD / Best Music Film

  • 2005 – Oasis – Definitely Maybe
  • 2006 – Various Artists – Live 8
  • 2007 – Arctic Monkeys – Scrummy Man
  • 2008 – Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York
  • 2009 – Arctic Monkeys – Live at the Apollo
  • 2010 – The Mighty Boosh Live – Future Sailors Tour
  • 2012 – Foo Fighters – Back and Forth
  • 2013 – The Rolling Stones – Crossfire Hurricane
  • 2014 – The Stone Roses – Made of Stone
  • 2015 – Pulp – A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets
  • 2016 – Blur – New World Towers
  • 2017 – Oasis – Supersonic
  • 2018 – Lady Gaga – Five Foot Two

Best Mixtape

  • 2018 – Avelino – No Bullshit

Best Book

  • 2011 – John Lydon – Mr. Rotten’s Scrapbook
  • 2012 – Noel Fielding – The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton
  • 2013 – Mike Skinner – The Story of the Streets
  • 2014 – Morrissey – Autobiography
  • 2015 – Viv Albertine – Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
  • 2016 – Patti Smith – M Train
  • 2017 – Johnny Marr – Set the Boy Free
  • 2018 – Wiley – Eskiboy

Media Categories

The group of media awards, for radio, TV, films, and venues.

Best Radio Show

  • 1994 – John Peel (BBC Radio 1)
  • 1996-1997 – The Evening Session (BBC Radio 1)
  • 1998-1999 – Mark and Lard (BBC Radio 1)
  • 2000-2002 – The Evening Session (BBC Radio 1)
  • 2003 – The Evening Session / Lamacq Live (BBC Radio 1)
  • 2005-2008 – Zane Lowe (BBC Radio 1)

Best TV Show

  • 1995 – Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge
  • 1996-1998 – Shooting Stars
  • 1999 – South Park
  • 2000 – The Royle Family
  • 2001 – The League of Gentlemen
  • 2002 – The Office
  • 2003 – The Osbournes
  • 2004 – The Office
  • 2005 – Little Britain
  • 2006 – Gonzo
  • 2007-2009 – The Mighty Boosh
  • 2010 – The Inbetweeners
  • 2011 – Skins
  • 2012-2013 – Fresh Meat
  • 2014 – Breaking Bad
  • 2015 – Game of Thrones
  • 2016 – This is England ’90
  • 2017 – Fleabag
  • 2018 – Stranger Things

Worst TV Show

  • 2009 – Big Brother

Best Film

  • 1994 – Reservoir Dogs
  • 1995 – Pulp Fiction
  • 1996 – The Usual Suspects
  • 1997 – Trainspotting
  • 1998 – The Full Monty
  • 1999 – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • 2000 – The Blair Witch Project
  • 2001 – Gladiator
  • 2002 – Moulin Rouge
  • 2004 – The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King
  • 2005 – Shaun of the Dead
  • 2006 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • 2007 – Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest
  • 2008 – Control
  • 2010 – Inglourious Basterds
  • 2011 – Inception
  • 2012 – Submarine
  • 2013 – The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey
  • 2015 – Northern Soul
  • 2016 – Beasts of No Nation
  • 2017 – My Scientology Movie
  • 2018 – Baby Driver

Best Website

  • 2000 – NME
  • 2003 – NME
  • 2004 – NME
  • 2005 – NME
  • 2006 – NME
  • 2007 – YouTube
  • 2008 – Facebook
  • 2009 – YouTube
  • 2010 – Muse

Best Band Blog / Twitter / Social Media

  • 2008 – The Modern Age (Best Music Blog), Radiohead (Best Band Blog)
  • 2009 – Noel Gallagher / Oasis
  • 2010 – Radiohead
  • 2011 – Hayley Williams
  • 2012 – Lady Gaga
  • 2013 – Alana Haim
  • 2014 – Alana Haim
  • 2015 – Liam Gallagher

People Categories

Continuing the odd and eclectic categories from 1954-1992, the NME Awards still give slightly odd awards out to individuals.

Genius/HERO of the Year

  • 2000 – Ali G
  • 2001 – Liam Gallagher
  • 2003 – Ozzy Osbourne
  • 2004 – Pete Doherty
  • 2005 – John Peel
  • 2006 – Bob Geldof
  • 2007 – Gerard Way
  • 2008 – Pete Doherty
  • 2009 – Barack Obama
  • 2010 – Rage Against the Machine
  • 2011 – Lady Gaga
  • 2012 – Matt Bellamy
  • 2013 – Barack Obama
  • 2014-2015 – Alex Turner
  • 2016 – Dave Grohl
  • 2017 – Beyoncé
  • 2018 – Ariana Grande

Bastard/Git/Arse/Dickhead/Waster/Villain of the Year

  • 1994 – John Major
  • 1996 – Damon Albarn
  • 1997-1999 – Liam Gallagher
  • 2000, 2001, 2003 – Robbie Williams
  • 2004 – George W. Bush, (Villain of the Year), Pete Doherty (Waster of the Year)
  • 2005-2009 – George W. Bush
  • 2010 – Kanye West
  • 2011 – David Cameron
  • 2012 – Justin Bieber
  • 2013-2014 – Harry Styles
  • 2015 – Nigel Farage
  • 2016 – Donald Trump
  • 2017 – Nigel Farage
  • 2018 – Piers Morgan

Best Dressed / Most Stylish

  • 1996 – Jarvis Cocker
  • 2003 – The Hives
  • 2005 – Brandon Flowers
  • 2006 – Ricky Wilson
  • 2007 – Faris Rotter
  • 2008 – Noel Fielding
  • 2009 – Alexa Chung
  • 2010 – Lady Gaga
  • 2011 – Brandon Flowers

Worst Dressed / Least Stylish

  • 1996 – Jarvis Cocker
  • 1997 – Liam Gallagher
  • 2003 – Christina Aguilera
  • 2005 – Jonathan Ross
  • 2006 – Justin Hawkins
  • 2007 – Jonathan Ross
  • 2008-2009 – Amy Winehouse
  • 2010 – Lady Gaga
  • 2011 – Justin Bieber

Best Comedian

  • 1995-1996 – Steve Coogan

Political and Real World Categories

Continuing some of the odder categories from the earlier NME Polls. For clarity, I’ve separated the “live” events from the other “musical” events, although I think the award category was sometimes the same.

Musical Moment / Event of the Year

  • 1996 – Skinner, Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions
  • 2012 – The Stone Roses reunite
  • 2013 – Olympics opening ceremony
  • 2014 – Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn come together for Teenage Cancer Trust
  • 2015 – Jamie T’s comeback
  • 2016 – The Libertines’ secret Glastonbury set
  • 2017 – Coldplay’s Viola Beach tribute at Glastonbury
  • 2018 – One Love Manchester

Greatest Musical Event Ever

  • 2000 – Woodstock

Non-Musical Event of the Year

  • 1994 – Unity March
  • 1995 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 1996 – French Nuclear Testing

Bummer / Disappointment

  • 1995 – Kurt Cobain’s Suicide
  • 1997 – The Stone Roses breaking up

Hype of the Year

  • 1994 – Jurassic Park

Object of Desire / Most Desirable / Hottest / Sexiest Woman

  • 1994 – Björk (Object of Desire)
  • 1995 – Kylie Minogue (Object of Desire)
  • 1997 – Louise (Most Desirable Human Being)
  • 1998 – Louise (Most Desirable Human Being)
  • 1999 – Natalie Imbruglia (Most Desirable Human Being)
  • 2003 – Avril Lavigne
  • 2004 – Brody Dalle
  • 2005 – Barbara Knox
  • 2006 – Madonna
  • 2007 – Kate Moss
  • 2008 – Kylie Minogue
  • 2009 – Hayley Williams
  • 2010 – Karen O
  • 2011 – Alison Mosshart
  • 2012 – Hayley Williams
  • 2013 – Amy Lee

Most Desirable / Hottest / Sexiest Man

  • 1996 – Liam Gallagher (Most Desirable Human Being)
  • 2003 – Chris Martin
  • 2004 – Har Mar Superstar
  • 2005 – Brandon Flowers
  • 2006 – Pete Doherty
  • 2007 – Matt Bellamy
  • 2008 – Noel Fielding
  • 2009-2011 – Matt Bellamy
  • 2012 – Jared Leto
  • 2013 – Matt Bellamy

Best Haircut

  • 2003 – Liam Gallagher
  • 2004 – Caleb Followill

Worst Haircut

  • 2003 – Jack Osbourne

Join us again next week, when we’ll finish this list off!

Chart for stowaways – 21 July 2018

These are the top singles this week:

  1. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  2. The Radiophonic Workshop – Burials in Several Earths
  3. Ladytron – The Animals
  4. Tiefschwarz – Never
  5. Tiësto / Dzeko / Preme / Post Malone – Jackie Chan
  6. Erasure – Still It’s Not Over
  7. The Radiophonic Workshop – Things Buried in Water
  8. The Future Sound of London – Collapsed Structures
  9. Tracey Thorn – Dancefloor
  10. Baddiel / Skinner / Lightning Seeds – 3 Lions

Chart for stowaways – 7 July 2018

Here are the top singles this week!

  1. The Radiophonic Workshop – Burials in Several Earths
  2. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom
  3. Ladytron – The Animals
  4. Tracey Thorn – Dancefloor
  5. Erasure – Still It’s Not Over
  6. Tiësto / Dzeko / Preme / Post Malone – Jackie Chan
  7. Tiefschwarz – Never
  8. The Radiophonic Workshop – Things Buried in Water
  9.  Baddiel / Skinner / Lightning Seeds – Three Lions
  10. Simon Mills – Poke EP

Beginner’s guide to Dubstar

If you were listening to pop music in the 1990s, you should probably have come across Dubstar. Their discography may not have turned out to be quite as extensive as it ought to have been, but there were plenty of good hits along the way.

Key moments

The string of singles which started with Stars, Anywhere, and Not So Manic Now back in 1995-1996, and never really stopped until their split five years later.

Where to start

Start with the 2004 compilation Stars – The Best of Dubstar, which gets you a whole load of highlights from all three albums plus a couple of acoustic versions and a demo.

What to buy

All three albums are worth tracking down in their own way. Disgraceful (1995) is pure pop genius; Goodbye (1997) has too many tracks, but plenty of good ones among them; and finally Make it Better (2000) is darker, but still has things worth hearing.

Don’t bother with

Most of the remixes, apart from the Disgraceful bonus disc (1996).

Hidden treasure

There are heaps of singles with hidden goodies on them, such as the first disc of No More Talk, or the EP that was led by The Self Same Thing, which includes collaborations with Gary Numan and Ian Broudie of Lightning Seeds.

For stowaways

Looking back at 2014

Well, way back at the start of 2014, we tried to predict what might be coming up this year. Let’s see how accurate those predictions were!

January

With a lot of care, we made our way into a brand new year by officially getting very excited about Awards season!

February

We went all out on investigating the history of the BRIT Awards, as well as covering the Grammys and – exclusively – our own Stowaway Awards!

March

Launching “exciting” new features in March seems to have become traditional on this blog, and sure enough, March 2014 saw the start of the hugely successful Beginner’s guide series. Which, incidentally, will be back very soon…

April

We celebrated the 30th anniversary of West End Girls, the 20th anniversary of Liberation, the 10th anniversary of Flamboyant, and the 5th anniversary of Yes, all in one action-packed Week of Pet Shop Boys.

May

In May, as every year, we celebrated the latest Eurovision Song Contest.

June

The middle month of the year saw us running the last series of reviews of early demos from Joy Division, New OrderDepeche Mode, and The Beloved.

July

In the height of summer (in the northern hemisphere), we celebrated our second anniversary, celebrated the addition of streaming to the UK chart, and looked at new releases from Sébastien Tellier and Andy Bell from Erasure.

August

In August, we ran a series of movie reviews, including Tomb RaiderThe Beach, and Sparks‘ wonderfully obscure movie-to-be about Ingmar Bergman.

September

We held our second annual Week of oldies, with reviews of great and not-so-great albums from Lightning SeedsEverything But The GirlYazoo, and others.

October

We posted our 808th post, and rolled back to see the finest singles of 2003 and 2004, as well as celebrating the 2014 Q Awards!

November

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of Kraftwerk‘s Autobahn by reviewing a selection of their fantastic back catalogue.

December

… brings us to the end of 2014! Happy new year!

Lightning Seeds – Jollification

Two decades old this week is the Lightning Seeds album Jollification. You know, the one with all the hits on it! In an extended chart run it rumbled all over the place, eventually peaking at number 12, and showing itself to be a great example of the mid-nineties pop album.

Opening the album is what became the final single Perfect, one of three top twenty hits from this album. It perhaps isn’t the best song ever, but it’s got the sort of strong pop melody that you should probably associate with Ian Broudie.

That’s followed by the brilliant first single Lucky You, which you would be hard pushed not to remember. Listening to it now, two decades on, it’s difficult to put your finger on quite what’s so special about it. Perhaps it just captured a moment two decades ago, and has long since had its time. Or maybe this really is a great song? I suspect the Lightning Seeds‘ impact on pop music is now largely limited to Three Lions and Three Lions ’98, but this album does prove that they had other strings to their bow.

Open Goals is nothing special though, and so it isn’t until third single Change that we’re reminded what we’ve been missing for the last couple of decades. And it’s good, but it does sound very old now. I suppose you have to just try to enjoy it for what it is, and forget that it was twenty years ago already.

Side A closes with Why Why Why, which does have a chord change, but what it doesn’t have is any kind of memorable melody. There’s definitely some filler on this album, but fortunately there are enough hits to make up for the shortcomings of the other tracks.

Marvellous, starting the second half, is another hit, and although its swirly introduction is a little over the top, it does build its way up to become a great pop song, even though surprisingly it was the smallest hit from the album.

It’s downhill from there though. For Feeling Lazy we seemingly take a trip back to the 1960s, and My Best Day is a worthy attempt at a catchy song which somehow just doesn’t quite work. Punch and Judy is pretty poor, too. The final track Telling Tales does pick things up a bit, but by this stage it feels a bit like too little, too late.

So I think it’s fair to conclude that Jollification is a patchy album. But if nothing else, the aural journey back to 1994 is worthwhile, and when it’s good, it is very good.

You can find Jollification at Amazon and all major retailers.