Thursday, February 14, 2013


"Things that make you realise you're old", I wrote on that there Twitter, "Realising that my favourite album (Boo Radleys - Giant Steps) is 20 years old."

"What?" you ask, "aren't they those Wake Up Boo! people?"

Why, yes, that is the Boo Radley pension plan, but Giant Steps was the previous album, released at a time when the crueller writers in the UK music press were referring to the group as "The Do Badleys"*. Oh, japes. They had flickered the year before with Everything's Alright Forever, (and here's the lovely Memory Babe) but they needed something epic, and may the non-specific deity of your choice bless Creation Records for letting them do just that.

So, the band climbed inside a guitar amplifier, and emerged during 1993 - just as everybody else was enjoying the helter-skelter ride of the Shoegaze phenomenon - with lots of loud noises, some quieter noises, trumpets, keyboards, singing and the words "Faye Dunaway" all arranged in the right order, that being the secret of being really, really good at music.

Mr Vain by Culture Beat was the number one single, while some formulaic arse by UB40 was busy going double platinum at the top of the album charts. Britain - as a country - has never been that good at spotting a decent song when it hits them between the eyes.

I'm biased, because even after twenty years, I consider the play-out to 'Barney and Me' to be the finest piece of popular music every recorded to tape, disc or electronic format; and I'm still floored by the tidal wave of noise that takes over on 'Leaves and Sand'. And just when most albums are beginning to flag, there's the horn-driven shock-and-awe of 'Lazarus'. But then, I am biased.

NME and poor, dead Select magazine both named Giant Steps their album of the year, but you wouldn't understand the sheer magnificence of the piece from looking at the record's scandalously short Wikipedia page. As one commentator put it: For 68 minutes, they were the finest band on the planet. The cloth-eared bastard, they lasted much longer than that.

In 1995, Wake Up! came along. Everybody went mad for the title track. Which was fair enough. I bothered listening to it all the way through, grabbed Stuck on Amber and took it to my heart.

Let's hear it for the Boo Radleys! Even when they missed the target *cough* C'Mon Kids *cough*, they were still better than most of the other crap that was in the charts. Dammit, I even loved the break-up album.

Boo Radleys on Amazon HERE

* The excellent Mr Martin Carr tells me this morning that  the "Do Badleys" thing was something he said in an interview as a joke, an interview that has now become myth. Happy to put the record straight.

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