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” (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.

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 pretty much over (at least from a popularity standpoint) and Brit-pop ruling the UK rock-charts, the band shed most of the noisy experimentation that defined their previous work, for a bright and sunny set of songs that were punchy and, more importantly, likable to people who found the band’s 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 with Wake Up!, but, truth be told, they wrote some damn good Brit-pop songs, and they still sound great fifteen years on. “Wake Up Boo!”, “It’s Lulu” and “Find The Answer Within” were all perfect 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 pretty good 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 spent the rest of their career trying to distance themselves from the pop image they fostered on Wake Up!

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) can’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