[sic] Magazine

The Boo Radleys – Wake Up!, Deluxe Edition

The Boo Radleys best known album was also my least favourite. But with the benefit of hindsight, (and this sweet Cherry Red re-issue), Wake Up is clearly less risible than my rather jaundiced memory would have me believe.

bq. What I used to think.

Wake Up! wasn’t half as good as its predecessor Giant Steps, simple as that. Then again, nothing possibly could have measured up and we were stupid to think so. We’d already heard the taster single ‘Wake Up Boo’, (there’s hardly a household in Britain which hasn’t heard that breezy, summery jaunt) and at the time the NME and its ilk promised us that Wake Up, the album, would be the Boos best. Well they always say that. I know that now. But back then, for these ears, Wake Up fell flat on its very first listen. Like many I quickly consigned it to the shelf.

bq. What I now believe.

Comparisons with greatness are silly. You’re setting yourself up for a fall. Okay, Wake Up! isn’t ‘better than’ Giant Steps. But worse than? You can think that way if you want. I prefer to say ‘different to’. As history would prove, each Boo Radleys album would turn out to be markedly different to the rest – unique, identifiable yet still intrinsically them .

Actually Wake Up! is the Boos warmest, most pastoral record. Maybe it’s their Surf’s Up . I always rated the laid back strum of second track, ‘Fairfax Scene’. Another highlight is the superlative ‘Reaching Out From Here’. Whenever I listen to this I can’t help thinking songwriter….songwriter… bloody hell, Martin Carr is good. Why don’t people mention Carr alongside the great British writers?
Lennon , Davies , Weller , Partridge , McAloon ….Carr?
I say, yes, yes, YES. He even does a turn as Burt Bacharach with the philosophical fan riposte ‘Find The Answer Within’.

And because I always remembered ‘It’s Lulu’ and ‘Stuck on Amber’, (further stabs at massivedom) I’d forgotten some of Wake Up’s hidden gems. ‘Joel’ is a wonderful cut befitting of Giant Steps, (sorry to harp on but it is fantastic) and closing track ‘Wilder’ is achingly beautiful.

As to the two Bonus discs, these wrap up all the b-sides, remixes and EP tracks from that period. The High Llamas get to work on a couple of mixes, Stereolab another but there are other riches to explore here. Two of my favourites are ‘Blues For George Michael’, which is beautifully absurd yet absurdly beautiful and ‘From The Bench At Belvedere’. Every great band has a legendary, non-album single. This is theirs.

Arriving at a time of great optimism, (New Labour etc) with its London references and positive vibe, Wake Up! would inevitably get the band bracketed with Britpop. The Boos didn’t like that, but it helped score them a UK number 1 album. Yet despite selling well at the time I think it confused and disappointed fans both old and new. Today it actually sounds surprisingly fresh.



Giant Steps Deluxe Edition