There can’t be many better examples than The Boo Radleys of a band being wrongly pigeonholed on the account of their one big hit.

Wake Up Boo! was everywhere in 1995.  And it deserved to be given it was such a magnificently piece of catchy and infectious pop that put a smile on your face every time you heard it.  The downside however, is that it emerged at the same time as a lot of other guitar-led music with an indie-bent that got lumped together under the Britpop umbrella, and the outcome was the band also got held up as being part of the genre.

It was something they hated.  They had been making critically acclaimed music since 1990 (initially lumped in with the ‘shoegazing’ fraternity) and indeed had, in 1993, released an album that has the critics swooning and proclaiming them as the best band in the country.

Giant Steps, which came out on Creation Records just before Oasis took that label into the stratosphere, was named as the 1993 record of the year by Select Magazine and #2 album of the year by the NME (behind Debut by Bjork). This was a remarkable achievement for an album that hadn’t spawned any hit singles nor sold in any great quantities and it was also against some incredible competition  – Suede, The Breeders, Blur, The The, Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Tindersticks and Radiohead were among those who released in 1993 what can now be seen as ‘classic’ albums.  But it was well-merited. However, there is no way that you could consider Giant Steps to be in any shape or form a Britpop album.

It is true that the album Wake Up! (on which the hit single featured) was a lighter and more catchy affair than its acclaimed predecessor and it did spend one week at #1 in the UK album charts (taking over from Celine Dion and being removed by Bruce Springsteen) and it did bring the band a whole new audience but not one they were ever entirely comfortable with, particularly in the live environment.  It was therefore hardly a surprise that the next album –  C’Mon Kids in 1996 – was a long way removed from the sound of The Boo Radleys circa 1995 and in commercial terms it bombed; but in comparison to the next and final album – Kingsize in 1998 – it could be regarded as a huge seller.

The Boo Radleys made some great music throughout the 90s but as I said are remembered chiefly for one song that is very unrepresentative of their sound.  I prefer to remember them by these flop 45s:-

mp3 : The Boo Radleys – Wish I Was Skinny
mp3 : The Boo Radleys – Barney (…and me)
mp3 : The Boo Radleys – From The Bench at Belvidere
mp3 : The Boo Radleys – What’s In The Box (See Watcha Got)

And from this rather brave and interesting cover:-

mp3 : The Boo Radleys – The Queen Is Dead




S-WC outlined all sorts of reasons why cover versions are recorded.  As he mentioned, sometimes it can be for a tribute album.  From wiki:-

The Smiths Is Dead is a tribute album to the 1980s’ English alternative rock band The Smiths, released in 1996. It was compiled by the French cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles and released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 1986’s The Queen Is Dead. The album was released at the height of the Britpop phenomenon and contained covers by many popular Britpop acts such as The Boo Radleys, Supergrass, Bis and Placebo.

It’s very much a mixed bag and I think it’s accurate to say that none of the covers improve at all on the originals, but that would have been a near impossibility to begin with. The other biggest problems are that too many of the tracks fail to digress all that much from how The Smiths themselves recorded the songs or that the band asked to do the cover do so in a way that even Morrissey’s backing band would have been embarassed by the efforts.  However, an honourable mention must go to Boo Radleys for what is a hugely different take on the title track…..one that too me many years to really appreciate but nowadays is the only one I have on the i-pod :-

mp3 : Boo Radleys – The Queen Is Dead
mp3 : The High Llamas – Frankly, Mr. Shankly
mp3 : The Trash Can Sinatras – I Know It’s Over
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Never Had No One Ever
mp3 : The Frank & Walters – Cemetry Gates
mp3  : Placebo – Bigmouth Strikes Again
mp3 : Bis – The Boy with the Thorn in His Side
mp3 : Therapy? – Vicar in a Tutu
mp3 : The Divine Comedy – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
mp3 : Supergrass – Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others