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.