The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps - Review
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critics' view

If ever a group were deserving of rehabilitation, it is the Boo Radleys. In that grim time when if you didn't like grunge, all you had was Suede or Cud, they synthesised the many factors that had made the Liverpudlian musical past so great. Mixed with a huge dose of the American sunshine psych-rock so beloved on Merseyside, the Boos acted as a bridge between The La's and The Coral. And Giant Steps was their crowning glory, lofty in ambition, widescreen in its production. It is hard to believe that it is now 14 years old, and at the time it topped the NME Reader's Poll and was Select's album of the year.

Giant Steps is still, as the Virgin Encyclopaedia Of Popular Music heralds “dripping with poise, attitude and melody.” Leader Martin Carr's ear for a tune is unimpeachable – the indie chime of "I Hang Suspended", the bright "Wish I Was Skinny"; there is feedback (“Leaves and Sand”); funky undercurrents (“Upon 7th and Fairchild”, “Lazarus”); humour; synthesizers, touching interludes and lots of big, big noise.

It was extremely unfortunate that they were sunk, like many before and since by their big hit (in their case “Wake Up Boo!” in 1995) and soon they were pushed back into oblivion by Britpop. Carr's refusal to play ball with the media-generated movement meant their final two albums languished in semi-obscurity. It's hard to comprehend why Giant Steps is so currently forgotten, while people randomly cite, say, Screamadelica as one of the best ever. It, like the Boos themselves, are all but gone from pop history – although the album’s place in the recent book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die suggests their may be a quiet move for Giant Steps to reclaim its place at pop’s top table.

Daryl Easlea
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