The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps: Deluxe Edition (Cherry Red Records)


It’s easy to see why Giant Steps was lauded as a landmark when it was released back in 1993. The album uses the shoegaze sound of the first two Boo Radleys albums as a foundation for tangents into, well, just about everything. Reggae rhythms creep into “Upon 9th and Fairchild” and “Lazarus” (the band’s finest moment), “Wish I Was Skinny” was Orange Juice-influenced jangle-punk, “Rodney King (Song For Lenny Bruce)” incorporates rave-type beats, and “Butterfly McQueen” is probably the best (and only) mix of noise-pop, Spanish Flamenco, and a dub bass-line you’ll ever hear. Adventurous ideas were pouring out of the band, and they happily used them to break down sonic barriers, while still crafting music accessible enough that the album cracked the Top 20 in England, peaking at number 17. Genre-blending aside, Giant Steps is just a great rock album, with “Barney (And Me),” “I Hang Suspended,” and the aforementioned “Lazarus” among the great early-’90s British rock songs. The band would go on to make other great albums, but they never topped Giant Steps.

This new reissue has informative liner notes, but more importantly there’s two discs of B-sides and remixes dating from 1992-1994. OK, so nobody needs to hear all seven versions of “Lazarus,” but fans shouldn’t should miss killer B-sides like the Dinosaur Jr-meets-MBV of “Lazy Day,” “Peachy Keen,” and the absolutely stunning “Does This Hurt?” My only complaint is that despite remastering claims, the album sounds exactly like the original CD version. You’ll still need to turn the volume up, and even then you’ll struggle to hear the bass or even the bass drum.

The Boo Radleys – Wake Up: Deluxe Edition (Cherry Red Records)


Coming two years after Giants Steps, it’s hard not to hear Wake Up! as The Boo Radleys’ concession to popular tastes. With the shoegaze scene falling out of favor and Brit-pop ruling the UK rock-charts, the band shed their noisy experimentation for a bright and sunny set of songs that would be more likable to people who found their previous albums too obscure. That the chorus of the opening song, “Wake Up Boo!” goes “Wake up, it’s a beautiful morning” should give you a pretty good idea of the new shift toward accessibility. You could attack the band for trying to join the Oasis/Blur bandwagon, but, truth be told, they wrote some good Brit-pop songs which still sound great fifteen years on. “Wake Up Boo!,” “It’s Lulu,” and “Find The Answer Within” were all perfectly crafted singles, and all charted higher than any of the band’s previous efforts. Elsewhere, the album struggles to develop a cohesive personality; “Joel” is a decent baggy pastiche, “Fairfax Scene” is a stab at 1960’s sunshine pop, and “Charles Bukowski Is Dead” seems to be a send up of Blur. Wake Up! may be choppy, but that didn’t stop it from peaking at #1 in England. Oddly enough, The Boo Radleys would the rest of their career trying to distance themselves from the pop image Wake Up! fostered.

As with Cherry Red’s simultaneous reissue of Giant Steps, the Deluxe Edition of Wake Up! has two discs of outtakes, remixes and B-sides. It also claims to have remastered sound, although there’s little evidence of improvements over the original versions. A few of the B-sides are strong (“Friendship Song” and “Very Together” both rate a few spins), but many were rightfully left off the album proper, and the remixes (by Stereolab, High Llamas and Justin Warfield) don’t improve on the originals.

Tracklisting:

DISC 1:

Wake Up Boo

Fairfax Scene

It`s Lulu

Joel

Find The Answer Within

Reaching Out From Here

Martin Doom It`s Seven O`clock

Stuck On Amber

Charles Bukowski Is Dead

4am Conversation

Twinside

Wilder

DISC 2:

Janus

Blues For George Michael

Friendship Song

Wake Up Boo (Music For Astronauts)

And Tomorrow The World

History of Creation, Pts. 17 & 36, The

Find The Answer Within – (remix)

Only Word I Can Find, The

Very Together

Don`t Take Your Gun To Town – (mono)

Wall Paper

DISC 3:

This Is Not About Me – (remix)

Reaching Out From Here – (remix)

Martin Doom It`s Seven O`Clock – (remix)

Joel – (remix)

Tambo

Donkey

From The Bench At Belvedere

Hi Falutin`

Crushed

Almost Nearly There