Since the early 1990's Terry's name has been increasingly linked
to the Lightning Seeds. Ian Broudie, the man behind the Lightning
Seeds, is a prolific producer and in 1985 he produced the
Colourfield's 'Things could be beautiful'. In 1992 Broudie released
his second Lightning Seeds album 'Sense' which featured Terry's
vocals and song writing talents. Terry co-wrote and performed on
three tracks - 'Sense', 'Where Flowers Fade' and 'A Small Slice of
Heaven'. 'Sense' was released as the second single off the album
(after 'Life of Riley') however it was only a minor hit. Terry
recorded his own version of the song a couple of years later on
'Home'. The other two album tracks stand out and without looking at
the sleeve notes it is easy to recognise they are written by Terry.
Terry sings the final lines of 'Where flowers fade';
"I hate liars, I hate cheats.
Waving flags and saving nations.
Goodbye love, Goodbye peace.
I hate war, it ruins conversation."
Terry also featured on the Lightning Seeds third album
'Jollification'. He co-wrote and appeared on the song 'Lucky you'
which was the first single released prior to the album. However the
single failed to make the Top 40. It is a great song however it does
need time to grow on you and therefore after the success of other
singles on the album, 'Lucky you' was re-released as the final single
off the album - to much greater success.
Terry's first solo album was perhaps somewhat unfortunately
released the same week as the Lightning Seeds 'Jollification'. Terry
was now on Dave Stewart's Anxious record label, part of East West.
The album was preceded by the single 'Forever J' named after his then
wife Jeanette. 'Forever J' is one of Terry's best songs with great
lyrics ("she kisses me through gritted teeth"). Many reviewers claim
it has a European feel. I couldn't imagine anyone else singing
'Forever J' and it signalled a great start to Terry's solo career.
Unfortunately it didn't get the airplay which would have made it a
huge hit if it had been given time to sink in. The single also
featured a longer, slightly eerier mix by Pulp and two other Terry
penned non album tunes. The first one being 'Suburban Cemetery' where
Terry mixes the reflectiveness of his recent lyrics to the more
political themes of earlier recordings. 'Guess it's not a great day
to be me' is an archetypal Terry Hall song full of lyrics about
mundane actions building up to a heap of misery. All three tracks
were co-written by Craig Cannon who has provided the musical backing
for a great deal of Terry's solo work.
The album 'Home' featured ten tracks including the single 'Forever
J' and Terry's version of 'Sense'. The album featured songwriting
contributions from Craig Gannon, Andy Partridge, Nick Heywood and Ian
Broudie (who also produced the whole album). Musicians on the album
included Craig Gannon, Les Pattinson, Simon Rodgers and Chris
Sharrock. Female backing vocals were largely supplied by new comer
Angie Pollock who has since become a member of the Lightning Seeds.
The album cover features a great photo of Terry huddled into the
corner of a white room. Promotional posters for the album stated a
quote from Arena magazine selected in a rather tongue in cheek manner
- "an album's worth of light and airy pop". Generally reviews for the
album were very positive often highlighting the increased quality of
Terry's vocals. The album features some of Terry's best lyrics as
well as using his distinctive vocals to stunning effect. I won't even
bother highlighting any lyrics because the whole albums bursts full
of gems. However a few times on the album Terry did return to his old
trick of cleverly twisting common phrases such as "I punched that
gift horse in the mouth" and "if if's and and's were pots and pans
you'd be a kitchen".
The second single released from 'Home' was Terry's version of
'Sense' which he co-wrote with Ian Broudie and was a minor hit for
the Lightning Seeds in 1992. I prefer Terry's version as it doesn't
have the harmonica which ruins the Seeds version and there also seems
more drama and purpose. Unfortunately the single release date kept
being pushed back. The single featured the album version of 'Sense'
together with two covers - The Beach Boys 'God Only Knows' and
Bacharach and David's 'This Guy's in Love with You'. The cover of the
single features a picture of Terry as a young child - Terry was
recently asked by Jack Doherty "Why the sad face?" and Terry replied
"I've had a long face since I was about four" - this picture proves
it. Despite being the most immediately catchy (but not the best) song
off the album it didn't gain much airplay and failed to chart. Terry
appeared on Jools Holland and performed 'Sense' and a great rendition
of 'No, No, No'.
On the back of Terry's emergence as a solo artist, a CD collection
of Fun Boy Three and
was released. This CD (released on the Connoisseur Collection label)
was a bonus for Terry's fans as many tracks appeared on CD for the
first time. Indeed it made the release of 'The Collection' in 1992
rather superfluous. The CD contained six Fun Boy Three singles
including the extended version of 'The More I See (The Less I
Believe)'. However strangely 'Our Lips are Sealed' was omitted in
favour of 'Funrama Theme (Extended version)'. The second part of the
CD contained the seven
including the 12" versions of 'The Colourfield' and 'Castles in the
Also released on CD was a 1983
Fun Boy Three
concert recorded for the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test. The twelve
track concert was supplemented by 'Well Fancy That' and 'Tunnel of
Love' recorded live from David Jensen's radio show.
The outstanding album track 'No, No, No' was going to be released
as a single - indeed Terry promoted the song on a number of TV
programmes however only a limited number of promo copies surfaced.
The promo CD single features a version of 'No, No, No' with a
different female vocal (neither better or worse in my opinion). Also
on the single were three live tracks that would later appear on the
'Rainbows EP'. The cover of the promo single features a photo of
Terry by Dave Stewart.
In 1995 Terry released a new EP called 'Rainbows'. This was
released on two CD singles. The first single featured the main track
'Chasing a Rainbow' which was co-written by Blur's Damon Albarn. The
second track, 'Mistakes', was co-written by Ian Broudie (Lightning
Seeds) who also produced the first two tracks. The third track was a
live recording of 'See no evil' taken from a 1994 Manchester
University gig. This recording together with two live recordings on
the second CD single also appeared on the promo version of the
unreleased single 'No, No, No'. The final track of the first CD
single was a live recording of the Specials 'Ghost Town' performed
with Tricky during a 1995 gig. The second CD single also featured
'Chasing a Rainbow' and 'Ghost Town' but with two live versions of
Terry's best remembered songs - The Fun Boy Three's 'Our Lips are
Sealed' and the Colourfield's 'Thinking of You'. A promo video for
the single was produced featuring Terry with a bevy of female
musicians. Both Damon Albarn and Tricky had cited Terry as a major
influence in their own careers.
'Home' was re-released the week after 'Rainbows' in new packaging
with the addition of 'Chasing a Rainbow'. The excellent original
cover was replaced with a straight forward picture of Terry's head
and one shoulder. Unfortunately the single did not get much airplay
and failed to make the Top 40 thereby not promoting the album
Also in 1995 Terry dueted with Marijine (from the pop band Salad)
on 'Help' the War Child album to raise money and awareness for the
plight of children in the former Yugoslavia. They covered the Mama
and Papas song 'Dream a little dream'. It's likely that Terry was
introduced to Salad by Ian Broudie who had produced some of their
records. Later Terry worked with Salad's Paul Kennedy on the track
'Bang went forever'. The 20 track album was recorded, mixed and
released within record time - the final track listing was not even
available to be printed on the CD sleeve. The album featured a range
of artists including Oasis, Blur, Suede, the Charlatans, Sinead
O'Connor and Neneh Cherry. An accompanying TV programme was also
produced showing Terry and Marijine in the studio recording the song.
In 1996 Terry appeared along with a number of other artists on
Tricky's 'Nearly God' project. Tricky had a made a name for himself
with the album 'Maxinique' and a string of hit singles including an
imaginative version of Public Enemy's 'Black steel'. The 'Nearly God'
album featured 10 tracks of which Terry co-wrote and sang on two.
Other collaborators on the album with Tricky included Bjork, Alison
Moyet and Neneh Cherry. The aim of 'Nearly God' was to produce a raw,
unpolished album with tracks laid down quickly. There were numerous
rumours around that Damon Albarn refused to allow the track he
recorded with Tricky to be used because he felt it was not polished
enough. The album was preceded by the sole single released from the
album - 'Poems'. 'Poems' featured three introspective monologues in
sequence by Tricky, Terry and Martina Topley Bird tied together by
the phrase "you promised me poems". The contrasting vocals and
lyrical concerns over the linear musical backing make the song highly
impressive and a lot more penetrable than some of Tricky's recent
Terry, Tricky and Martina appeared on a number of TV programmes
performing the single. One appearance was on the now sadly defunct
'White Room' where Terry and Tricky also performed a version of
the Specials 'Ghost
Town'. The second track on the 'Nearly God' album that Terry co-wrote
and appeared on was 'Bubbles' with the line "if I wasn't a genius I'd
lose my temper". The Nearly God album received numerous good reviews
with many reviewers highlighting Terry's crucial contribution.
'Poems' was often cited as the standout track.
In 1996 Terry's fans could also look towards the Lightning Seeds
for the release of new songs. The single 'What if...' was released to
significant chart success. The single was co-written by Terry.
Shortly after 'What if...' came the fourth Lightning Seeds album
'Dizzy Heights'. Along with 'What if...', Terry co-wrote two other
album highlights - the deliciously cynical, 'Imaginary friends' and
the sublime 'Like you do' which would have made a great single -
indeed the title was used for the Seeds' Greatest Hits collection.
Terry reappeared again in his solo capacity in 1997 with a new
record label - South Sea Bubble company with distribution through
Telstar. The first release through South Sea Bubble is what I believe
to be Terry's best ever single - 'Ballad of a Landlord'. The single
was released on two CD singles and a 7" all of which included
exclusive tracks. The 7" featured the single together with a short
interview taken from a Radio 1 interview with Mary Ann Hobbs and a
new track 'Bang went forever'. This great track was co-written by
Paul Kennedy from the group Salad..
The CD singles unfortunately did not include any other self-penned
tracks only an acoustic version of the single, a live version of
Lennon's 'Working Class Hero' and two other studio covers. The song
'Ballad of a landlord' did not get much airplay and like many of
Terry's songs it takes a number of listens before its greatness hits
you. The song concerns the return of a lover reopening old wounds and
manages to encompass pain, anger, bitterness and sarcasm in one
sublime rollercoaster. It builds on from the
with much of the barbed humour replaced by emotion. Many reviewers
could not get to grips with it, indeed Martin Fry (of ABC) and Billy
Bragg reviewing the single for Radio 1 generally gave positive
comments but couldn't understand the title. In an interview Terry
stated that 'Ballad...' was number 1 in South Korea for two months
and said "I couldn't get my head round that. I mean, people in the
Midlands didn't get that song". Many reviewers raised the influence
of Jacques Brel, whose mixture of tragedy and barbed humour certainly
appears to match Terry's approach.
A second single was meant to be released before the album in order
to promote it, however in the end the single was actually given a
very low key release after the album. It was unfortunate because
there was a significant amount of publicity with key TV appearances
at the time the single should have been released. This second single
was 'I saw the light' a rather straightforward cover of Todd
Rundgren's biggest hit. Rundgren's career has also been long and
varied however considerably more patchy than Terry's. Why a cover
version was released when Terry writes such good songs I don't know.
The single featured two additional tracks - an acoustic version of
the great album track 'Love to see you' and 'Anywhere'. This latter
track was taken from the BBC drama 'The Lakes' and can also be found
on 'The Lakes' soundtrack.
'Laugh' was a Terry Hall album title just waiting to happen. It
was released in the Autumn of 1997 and features a picture of Terry in
America laughing behind a cigarette-holding hand. The album features
ten tracks including the two singles. The album was produced by Terry
himself along with Cenzo Townshend and Craig Gannon. It appears that
the track listing was rearranged from the promo copies - and I think
the final track listing was the superior order. The album features a
number of collaborations including two with Blur's Damon Albarn, one
with Stephen Duffy, one with the High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan and the
rest with Craig Gannon. Surprisingly Ian Broudie did not feature on
the album at all, however many other members of the Lightning Seeds
did. Nick Heyward also appeared credited with backing vocals.
'Roomful of Nothing' an interesting track co-written with Damon
Albarn was featured over the closing credits of a made for TV drama
shown many months before the album was released.
The album received nearly unanimous praise with most reviewers
citing Terry's marriage break-up as the basis of the album. The
musical backing to Terry's vocals inevitably varies due to the range
of collaborators yet the album retains a strong sense of
cohesiveness. Terry's vocals were better than ever showing real
emotion with less of the deadpan delivery he is often cited as being
constrained by. 'Happy Go Lucky' is absolutely superb and moving as
is 'Love to see you' with the line "Am I so devoid of charm?" starkly
following a sweeping orchestral chorus. 'Summer follows Spring' also
features an unexpected lyrical twist with "Last night you kept me to
yourself. Last night you slept with someone else".
Ready for the 1997 Christmas market, the Lightning Seeds released
a Greatest hits collection which featured nearly ¼ of the tracks
co-written by Terry. The only new one being 'What you say' - a single
where Terry's backing vocals (along with the vocals of Angie Pollack)
are integral. The song is darker and more reflective than most
Lightning Seeds songs. The single unfortunately failed to hit the Top
40 probably largely due to the great success of the Greatest Hits
album. In a recent interview Terry explained why he likes working
with Ian, "I get to do what I love doing, which is writing songs, but
then hand the responsibility of promoting it to someone else". Terry
often performs on stage with Ian and they once appeared on TFI Friday
performing 'Sense' together.
In 1998 Terry dueted with Sinead O'Connor on a cover of Dana's
'All Kinds of Everything' for an album of Eurovision covers. The
project was tied in with Channel 4's Eurotrash programme with a
special programme showing promo videos for most of the album tracks.
The album sleeve notes suggest Terry had a organisation role in the
album as well. He gave a short interview to 'The Times' promoting the
album as well as going to Japan to promote it. The album features a
number of artists including Kenickie, Dubstar, Edwyn Collins, St
Etienne and a special one-off reformation of the original Bananarama
line up. No singles were released from the album. On the Eurotrash
programme Terry was shown claiming that if the lyrics to 'All Kinds
of Everything' were copyrighted Leonard Cohen they would be seen as a
work of genius, as opposed to being denigrated and overlooked due to
the Eurovision connection. Viewers of the Eurotrash programme were
asked to phone in and vote for their favourite track off the album
and Terry and Sinead came second behind Bananarama. Terry had
performed with Sinead before on a version of Terry's 'Monkey in
winter' which was on the 12" version of the Colourfield single 'She'
although that was not strictly a duet as Terry performed backing
At the moment Terry is writing songs for his next album. There
have been a number of suggestions about collaborators and many of the
usual suspects' names have appeared. It is very unlikely anything
will be released this year. In a recent TV interview where Terry went
back to Coventry (not that his current address of Leamington Spa is
that far away), he said "I want to build up a body of work until I'm
sixty or something. Its the only way I can judge what I've done. I've
done 11 albums but I want to do twenty or something." We wait with
Biography by: David Harley
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