Ben’s Brilliant Best Albums of the 1990s. No. 87. The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps

It’s that trumpet bit on Lazarus, isn’t it? Duuh d-d-d duu-duu du-du du-d-d-d. I saw them live once and they looped it for what felt like ten minutes at the end of the song and every single second of it was wonderful. You know that Smoke on the Water riff? Blau Blau Blau, Blau-Blau Blau-Blau, Blau Blau Blau, Blau Blau? Well, if you spent at least part of the 1990s with a fringe past your eyes and Slowdive playing on your walkman, then Duuh d-d-d duu-duu du-du du-d-d-d is your Blau Blau Blau, Blau-Blau Blau-Blau, Blau Blau Blau, Blau Blau. If you didn’t, there is a good chance this paragraph is mostly gibberish. Sorry about that. I’ll start again.

Boo Radleys are mostly remembered for being one of the bands that surfed the Britpop wave caused by Oasis (despite the fact their debut album came out a year before Oasis even formed). Their most famous song is Wake Up Boo!, which is far better than you remember it being. (It did tend to get overplayed by breakfast djs at the time though. I’ll give you that.)

But before Wake Up! there was Giant Steps, the sound of a bunch of kids from the Wirral noticing that the world was full of bands that ‘wrote songs for ourselves and if anyone else likes them it’s a bonus’ and thinking, ‘you know what, maybe we should just try to make the greatest album ever recorded instead? What if we mixed every song style we can think of together to make something fragile and beautiful and bold and proud and then give it the same name as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time? How would that sound?’

Of course, Giant Steps isn’t, and never was, the greatest album ever recorded. That’s not really the point. Better to aim for the stars and miss than never try at all is the point. Giant Steps aims somewhere past the stars, somewhere new and unexplored, and of course it misses, of course it does, but the journey is a blast, and when they get close, like with that trumpet bit, Giant Steps really sings.

Duuh d-d-d duu-duu du-du du-d-d-d.

1 Comment

  1. Very much here for this one – NME told me it was the album of the year in 1993(?) and they were right. Also: their earlier cover of True Faith, Boo Faith, is a stunner.

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