Giant Steps may have won The Boo Radleys critical acclaim, and Wake Up! may have thrust them into the highest reaches of the charts, but to get the whole Boo Radleys picture, you need to go back to 1992, and the relase of Everything's Alright Forever.
After the limited edition release of Ichabod & I on Action Records, and a couple of singles, this was their long play release at their new home, Creation Records. It's a great but overlooked shoegazing-era classic, and holds a special place in my collection, marking my first tentative steps
towards true indieness.
Produced by The Boo Radleys themselves, Everything's Alright Forever is awash with feedback, distortion,
vocals thrown back into the mix, buzz-saw basslines thrown forward into the mix, lyrics you want to sing without
thinking what they mean, heroic guitar solos, two-minute post-punk thrashes, delicious melodies, and some
avant garde noodling thrown in for good measure. At this stage in his creative career, Martin Carr was
experimenting wildly, striving for originality in every song, believing it would have been wrong to repeat any
idea in the same album. (By the time Giant Steps appeared a year later, he had developed this into the idea of
not repeating an idea within a song, which explains some of that album's more, ahem, esoteric moments.)
If you like your dials turned up to 12, never mind 11, pawn your copy of Wake
up! today, go out and find a copy of Everything's Alright Forever in your favourite
second-hand music store, dim the lights, slip on your most comfortable set of cans, and listen to
- Spaniard (4:01)
The most un-Boo Radleys of all songs opens the album, with a Boo! trumpet debut, and the first sign of the
shimmering reverb sound that underlies much of the album. Closes with a young boy shouting excitedly "Boo up! Boo
- Towards The Light (1:41)
If they'd been around, would have been straight onto the next passing double CD indie guitar compilation. A
gloriously straightforward romp with oh, at least 20 seconds of vocals. If you can fit it in under two minutes,
why waste time repeating yourself?
- Losing It (Song For Abigail) (4:02)
Until I bought the CD, I had no idea where the divide fell between the this and the tracks either side. The
dream sequence that starts "Losing It...", with undecipherable backgroung mutterings, makes way for
over-distortion of vocals and guitars, and a guitar that's playing in a key all of its own. Lyrics are hard to
make out, but possibly "Now it's coming down / faster than glue". I'm not totally sure on the glue bit,
- Memory Babe (3:19)
Zipping along on a wave of acoustic chords, feedback laden guitars crunch into the choruses, before turning in
on itself in a maelstrom finale. Giant Steps' Barney and Me's less flabby relative.
- Skyscraper (4:46)
A hook to snare Ahab with, Sice's voice floats over a grunged out rhythm guitar, which fades in and out to the
bridge, lead guitar nips in on top of the whole lot, before exploding into Martin Carr's two minute solo
tour-de-force closes the song out. J. Mascis would have been proud.
- I Feel Nothing (3:06)
Someone's turned the dial up too much, till the distortion fades into acoustic chords pinched from "Spaniard"
and "Skyscraper" and fused at high temperature. Delicate verses entwine with yet more feedback, wah-wah, and indie
noodling verses. A lot seems to have happened in just three minutes.
- Room At The Top (5:05)
Five minutes of tripped out psychedlia, stealing a blueprint from The Beta Band, and closing out the first
half with it.
- Does This Hurt? (3:56)
The most simple and affecting of the fuzzed-up electrics on the album, and a-side on the Boo Forever! EP. The
usual wall of fuzzed up sound creeps into the melody, only this time Sice's fragile vocals are given breathing
space nearer the front. Drifts perfectly into:
- Sparrow (1:51)
The devil may have all the best tunes, but only angels could sing this melody. It's hard to be precise about
the lyrics - I've had at least three variations for each line - but the perfect mesh of four-chord progression and
beat is honey in a jar.
- Smile Fades Fast (3:13)
Back to the heavy stuff, Dinosaur Jr. territory again, and a soundscape sibling to Skyscraper, minus the epic
- Firesky (5:05)
Not straying far from the "Smile Fades Fast" blueprint, but slower and subtler, the feedback comes and goes,
it's hard to tell exactly where the sound is coming from. The opening chord sequence to the verse is tantalisingly
only played twice, before you're launched into another two minute noodle and wig-out zone.
- Song For The Morning To Sing (2:30)
Where's the feedback gone? They've gone and slipped in what passes for a ballad in shoegazing territory. Sounds
for all the world like it was recorded during the Wake Up! sessions several years later.
- Lazy Day (1:34)
Brilliantly released as a single by Creation, for your money, you got a brief two chord intro, some fuzzy
vocals, the intro again, another 10 second verse, no choruses. The end. Brilliant. Perfect for when you've got
94 seconds to spare.
Where "Lazy Day" flies in and out, "Paradise" meanders its course. Presumably written after listening to a mix
of My Bloody Valentine and something that sounds nothing like My Bloody Valentine, it's a song lazing around
instrumentally in the sun with no particular place to go, until someone finds the trumpet, and then all that's
left is finely crafted feedback.
The album spawned the following EPs: