mind. That would be too much. Too weird. Too out there.
Even without any narcotic stimulant, The Boo Radleys’ Giant Steps is some trip. The vocals smell of blue, the guitars look like waterfalls, the trumpets look like guitars, the songs feel like cosmic carpets underfoot. Giant Steps is deep and dense, a seventeen-track, 64-minute double album saga wherein Sgt Pepper and Smile are found wanting in the ‘classic' drug-pop stakes. No lie.
The Boo Radleys used to be heads— down thrashers but it was just a phase they were going through. Now, their vision thing has come of age.
’lt takes time for a band to develop.‘ says Sice the singer, a man who oozes Liverpudlian affability. Even over the telephone. ‘We’ve been fairly lucky in that we haven't had the spotlight on us.
We wouldn’t have been able to make an
album like this if we’d been Ride or somebody. We’d have never dared because they’d have had the publisher down there listening to it, saying
“What the fuck are you doing, you can’t do this, give us another Nowhere”.’ We haven’t had anybody down our throats.
‘We haven’t had the success that some bands have had, but we’re in the good position that when we do get success it'll be because of the music and not because we’re a passing fad. As far as the vision’s concerned, we did always have it. It just takes time to come out. We used to sit there and think how we loved records with trumpets and orchestras, but it was only on this album that we realised what we could actually do.‘
The Boo Radleys' ﬁrst album, a mini affair called Ichabod And I was released in 1990 on a Preston-based indie. it was thick and heavy and blinkered in its Dinosaur Jr-style slosh. Heads down, thrash away. ‘That‘s the way we lived at that time. Ichabod And I was recorded in four days. it really wasjust a heads down. run in and do it. Now you can take a bit more time. Making an album in two months, everyone says that’s really quick. but that’s fucking luxury for us.‘
The Boo liadleys’ Giant Steps is some trip. The vocals smell of blue, the guitars look like waterfalls, the trumpets look like guitars, the songs feel like cosmic carpets underfoot.
Two months, that‘s how long it took The Boo Radleys to forge the multi— layered jewellery box that is their third album. it could have been longer. and the studio-hound Boo‘s, ever-dripping with song ideas and sound adventures and producing themselves. would happily have tarried a lot longer. Tarn'ed and wallowed, got mired in triple-album indulgence. Luckily Creation knew the dangers of letting
their acts cocoon themselves in isolated ~
rooms and isolating technology.
‘We're quite lucky that My Bloody Valentine did what they did on Creation before.’ What MBV did was spend months and a million recording I991 ‘s Loveless, nearly scuppering Creation in the process. This they did in the same studio that the 800‘s used for their album. ‘Some of the stories the
Did you SEE Hick Heyward on ‘The Beat’? There’s all these hip young dudes bouncing or sulking to their thoroughly modern soundtracks and
; the occasional codger-with-cred like , Iggy Pop, Cazza Crowley burbling with
verbosely-scripted enthusiasm about all and sundry - and then up pops that
i dimpled denizen of Poptabulousville, head honcho oi Haircut 100 and
: ‘Smash Hits’ regular Hick Heyward,
. grinning gooiily and strumming
subtley. Here was an opportunity for
twentysomethlngs to wallow in a
f nostalgia rivalled only by the recent return oi Duran Duran. To the
untutored observer, twinkle-eyes
: hadn’t changed a lot. I put it to you. Mr Heyward, that you were j cryogenically frozen in the mid-80s.
From their lair in lnverness the half rock band/half Highland traditional Wolfstone emerge for the six-date Scottish ‘Duming Horizons’ tour, and
i the release of the eponymous EP and
engineers tell you are just unbelievable. '
Nothing particularly outrageous, just them becoming very insular and spending a week getting like three notes with the perfect tone.‘
idealism thus tempered by pragmatism, Giant Steps is all the more convincing for it. Ditto the live Boo's: no more studious attempts to recreate the grind of their (previous) records, which meant ‘we were bollocks for ages, and that‘s where a lot of the “shoegazing” came in.’ Now the live Boo’s comes replete with keyboards and trumpets, a six-strong carnival of sorts, ’and we’re playing King Tut‘s and we're not even sure we can get the fucking gear on the stage!’ The Boo Radleys. Far-out visionaries fettered by earth-bound logistics. Spacemen taking Giant Steps against gravity’s pull. Sit back and enjoy the tussle. The Boo Radleys play King Tut is, Glasgow on Mon 4.
cassette single. Fiddler Duncan Chlsolm talks of the state of play after the tragic death early this year of their piper Hoddy McCourt.
‘It took a tair time to get over that. We didn’t play for quite a while and now we use a pool of pipers. All great players like Duncan McDilllvray, who
was with Battlefield Band, and
i Ceolbeg’s Cary West who played on
the single with us, and the one and only Cordon Duncan, who’ll be on the tour. But we’re not looking tor anyone to fill Hoddy’s boots.
‘There are actually no pipes on the ‘Durning Horizon’ track, but it's a three-track single and the other two leature the pipes, especially the re- recordlng we’ve done of what’s become our regular encore, ‘The Battle’. We first taped it way back when the band first started in the late 80s, and it’s developed a lot on stage over the years.
‘We use Palladium studio, south of Edinburgh. We’ve found that it’s a great place for us to work, and with Phil (Cunningham) as producer we’re getting a much heavier sound than
‘That’s cos you’re not seeing no close up,’ he maintains. ‘I look as though I’m in my early 50s really. I’m an old git.’
I don’t normally have a problem with pop stars ageing, as long as their muse doesn’t wither with their youthful thrust, but Hick Heyward was the archetypal boy-next-door, acne- free teenager with guitar. Haircut 100 were as lab as the adolescent pop perspective could get. ‘Favourlte Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’ was the ultimate document oi teen psychodrama. it was played at every school disco I ever attended, dammit. So anyway, it’s weird to see Heyward growing old gracefully.
‘I don’t get nostalgic about Haircut 100 as much as about being 19f20,’ he says. ‘But I really couldn’t wait to get older. i like the way you look physically when you’re older, I like the way you teel, the way you know more. I was a complete questioning-life teenager and I’m glad to be away from that now. It can be an horrendous time.’ ‘
How does he feel pop has fared in his absence?
‘Towards the end of the 80s was a grey time for pop. Humour had died with The Smiths; it was getting really pompous. How I naively assume bands like Pulp, Blur and Saint Etienne to be the massive pop bands and I’m quite confused when they’re not. How there’s not one pop wave; it’s fragmented.’ At least Heyward is equipped to pick his way through the pieces. (Fiona Shepherd)
Hick Heyward supports Squeeze at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on Fri 24 and the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow on Sun 26.
before, much closer to how we sound live.’
Over the summer the band prowled Europe, exciting crowds in Spain, Denmark and France, but especially Portugal, where the eight musicians played to their biggest audience yet.
‘There we were in lisbon. First time in a new country, a difterent culture. What’ll they make of it? Will we play all night? But it lust takes a few numbers and all hell bresz loose . . . 80,000 people, and there don’t seem to be any reservations about dancing to the music, they lust go for it. They want us back next year.’ (Honnan Chalmers)
Wolfstone play the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Sun 26.
The List 24 September—7 October l993 31