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” (perhaps the band’s finest moment), “Wish I Was Skinny” was Orange Juice-influenced jangle-punk, “Rodney King (Song For Lenny Bruce)” shows that the band had been to raves, 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 around this time, which they used to break down sonic barriers, while still crafting catchy and accessible songs (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” all among the best that British rock from the early 90’s had to offer. The band would make other great albums, but they never topped Giant Steps.
This new reissue has informative liner notes, but more importantly there are a full two discs of B-sides and remixes dating from 1992-1994. OK, so nobody needs to hear all seven versions of “Lazarus” on the final disc, but fans shouldn’t should miss out on killer B-sides like the Dinosaur Jr-meets-MBV of “Lazy Day” (which could have been a hit), “Peachy Keen” and the absolutely stunning “Does This Hurt?” My only complaint is that despite claims that the sound has been remastered, the album sounds exactly like the original CD version. It’s still low enough that you’ll need to turn the volume up, and trebley enough that you’ll struggle to hear the bass or even the bass drum.