The Boo Radleys... Riding invisible tigers
11 Martin Carr Songs to Soundtrack Your Summer! – part 1
Published on July 3rd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
So stoked are we to bring you our interview with Martin Carr that we went scurrying back through the great man’s works to bring you 11 songs he’s responsible for to soundtrack your summer with, whatever the weather. First, though, check out his brand new double A-side single “Sailor”/”I Will Build a Road”, available at sonnyboy.bandcamp.com…
Now on with the show…
1. “Kaleidoscope” – The Boo Radleys (from Ichabod and I, 1990)
A blaring blast of Jesus and Mary Chain distortion gives way to a stomping beat that doesn’t let up for even a moment as more and more majesty gets piled on in the form of an ethereal Sice vocal, layers of Carr guitar and an all-round air of the ‘ascending heavenwards’. Not just an early indicator of The Boos’ knack for the epic but one of the finest examples of it altogether.
2. “Memory Babe” – The Boo Radleys (from Everything’s Alright Forever, 1992)
Perhaps the most exhilarating head-rush on an album flush with it. Carr has gone on record as saying that Everything’s Alright Forever was not produced in the way he’d have liked but its shimmering, watery textures make for a lovely gateway into the sensory overload of the following year’s Giant Steps LP.
3. “Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)” – The Boo Radleys (from Giant Steps, 1993)
Perhaps the most My Bloody Valentine-y The Boos ever sounded, this swaggering beast of a tune is also smothered in the kind of acid sunshine that arguably got a bit lost in the maelstrom conjured by Kevin Shields and co. It’s not the stand-out song on Giant Steps, but it’s certainly one to crank up loud when Mr Blue Sky decides to show his face again. Oh, and then there’s this Saint Etienne remix to get stuck into. (Click here to read our recent interview with Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley!)
4. “From the Bench at Belvidere” – The Boo Radleys (standalone single, 1995)
Following in the footsteps of The Boo Radleys’ biggest hit/albatross “Wake Up, Boo!” and its more-cleanly-produced-yet-still-dazzling-in-scope parent album Wake Up!, this softly psychedelic remembrance of childhood days could be seen as Carr’s “Penny Lane”, albeit it errs more towards the reflective than the jollity of said Beatles classic. Fluttery flute, deliciously milky vocal, decorative electric guitar trills…there’s just so much to love here, as there is on its kind-of-predecessor “Barney (…And Me)” from Giant Steps.
5. “Wallpaper” – The Boo Radleys (B-side to “Find the Answer Within” from Wake Up!, 1995)
One for those occasional summer moments of drunken wistfulness/melancholy/what have you, this gradually building piece of hymnal splendour is but one exhibit of the strong case for The Boo Radleys being one of the great B-sides (Boo sides?) groups. The Wake Up!-era B-sides were particularly strong – check out the breezy pop meets sound collage of “Blues for George Michael”, the tangential songwriting master class of “Friendship Song” and sludge-pop bliss of “Don’t Take Your Gun to Town” to name but three stellar examples – but those orbiting Giant Steps and C’mon Kids are loaded with bona fide gems as well. As for “Wallpaper”? Lie back, immerse yourself in it, make peace with the world.
6. “Bullfrog Green” – The Boo Radleys (from C’mon Kids, 1996)
Giant Steps may take the plaudits, but C’mon Kids makes a compelling case for being The Boos’ true masterpiece. Nicky Wire claimed to have listened to little else for a year, while Radiohead and Spiritualized are amongst the others to have expressed their admiration. Somewhere around the middle of this sprawling noise-pop adventure lies “Bullfrog Green”, which starts as a cheerful jaunt through Toytown, gets hijacked by an Empire State Building-scaling lead guitar riff and ends up as a pupils-dilated paean to the gods of psychedelia. “And the sky was bullfrog green / Man you would have been amazed” – you’re darn tootin’.