In the late 1990s a trio of 10-inch records by a little known London beat-based duo called Lemon Jelly hit the market. Each was limited to 1,000 copies, a percentage of which featured hand-printed sleeves. The three EPs were released on Impotent Fury, a small label born out of a nightclub of the same name. It was founded by Lemon Jelly’s Fred Deakin and jumped musical styles through an ingenious method: Genre-wise, each night’s DJ sets were chosen by spinning a wheel.
Lemon Jelly — Deakin and Nick Franglen — was lumped in with the so-called trip hop movement, but their music was cheekier, not so self-serious. Their first EP, called In the Bath, was driven by a sample of a woman asking the question, “What do you do … in the bath?”
Deakin and Franglen sold out of those three EPs and then compiled them for release as their debut album for XL Recordings, LemonJelly.ky. They also released this mesmerizing remix of Chicago’s soft-rock weeper, If You Leave Me Now.
All told, Lemon Jelly released three albums in its decade-long existence, one that never really ended but has been on hiatus since 2008. In the time since, the three 10-inch EPs have become collectors items, and the double-LP version of their XL debut fetches more than $350 on the market.
One main reason for this collectability? Franglen’s tracks featured on Sims 2: Nightlife, a collection of remixes available during gameplay. Tracks, part of a project that also includes reworkings by Junkie XL, Timo Maas, Adam Freeland and others, are typified by a strange combination of playfulness and melancholy.
The source material – composer Mark Mothersbaugh’s original Sims 2 score – is tailor-made for the Lemon Jelly vibe.
Franglen’s version taps a quick melodic sample to open, adds a little echo and then loops it until it becomes a kind of meditation. The louder you listen, the more this labyrinthine series of melodies becomes.
Lemon Jelly also released a trio of stunning mix CDs. The first, called Jelly Mixture, came out in 2001. It features an expansive tracklist highlighted by songs from the Kiki Dee Band, the soundtrack to Sesame Street, John Barry, Busta Rhymes, and more. You should listen to this in its entirety.
Andy Statman – Flatbush Waltz (Rounder) Grand Wizard Theodore & The Fantastic 5 – Can I Get A Soul Clap (Disco Wax) NT – Positive-ism (Underdog Remix) (NT) James Bond – Welcome (Bond) James Last – Feel Alright (Polydor) The Cadets – Love Bandit (Oldies) Tsunami One – No. 43 With Steamed Rice Please (Kickin/Fuel) Kiki Dee Band – I’ve Got The Music In Me (Rocket ) Sesame Street Original Cast – Number Five (Columbia) Freddie Fresh – C’Mon (Eye Q) Shirley Ellis – The Name Game (Congress) Lone Ranger – It’s Yours (Walis) Lemon Jelly – The Staunton Lick (Impotent Fury) Badfinger – Come & Get It (Apple) John Barry Seven & Orchestra – Cutty Sark (Columbia) Bernard Cribbins – My Resistance Is Low Donald Fagin – The New Frontier (MCA) Lyndon David Hall – Forgive Me (Artful Dodger Remix) Octave One – Point Blank (430 West) Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See (Electrica) Lemon Jelly – Page One (Impotent Fury) Ambassadors Of Funk feat. MC Mario – Super Mario Land (Living Beat) Cutty Ranks – The Stepper (Fashion) A.D.O.R. – Let It All Hangout (Uppercut) Martin – Tipper Gore (Under 5’s) The Presidents Of The United States Of America – Peaches (Columbia) Frank Sinatra – Vegas Monologue (Capitol) Sammy Davis Jnr. – I Want To Be You With You (Reprise) Lemon Jelly – His Majesty King Raam (Remix feat. M.C. Reba) (Impotent Fury) Soft Rock – Rock (Soft Rock).