The Boo Radleys
|The Boo Radleys|
The Boo Radleys, 1993
|Origin||Wallasey, Merseyside, England|
|Genres||Alternative rock, shoegazing, noise pop, dream pop, Britpop|
Rough Trade Records
Columbia Records (US)
The Boo Radleys were an English alternative rock band of the 1990s who were associated with the shoegazing and Britpop movements. They were formed in Wallasey, Merseyside, England in 1988, with Rob Harrison on drums, singer/guitarist Sice Rowbottom, guitarist/songwriter Martin Carr, bassist Timothy Brown. Their name is taken from the character Boo Radley in Harper Lee's 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Shortly after the release of their first album, Hewitt replaced Rob Harrison on drums and he was in turn replaced by Rob Cieka. The band split up in 1999. In their decade long career, the band had one top ten single; the 1995 single "Wake Up Boo!", which charted at no. 9.
In 1990, the band's first album Ichabod and I was released on a small British indie label, Action Records. Although not a commercial success, this release brought the band to the attention of Rough Trade Records, to whom they signed. Around this time, Hewitt was replaced on drums by Rob Cieka. He then went on to drum for Placebo until 2007.
Almost immediately after the release of the Every Heaven EP in 1991, Rough Trade collapsed and the Boo Radleys were signed by Alan McGee's Creation Records. Their first for Creation was Everything's Alright Forever in 1992, and Giant Steps (1993) followed. Giant Steps was awarded 9/10 by the UK music magazine NME, which stated, "It's an intentional masterpiece, a throw-everything-at-the-wall bric-a-brac of sounds, colours and stolen ideas. That The Boo Radleys (of all people!) have decided to accept their own challenge and create a record as diverse and boundary-bending as this is, at first glance, staggering. Isn't this the job of the U2s and the leisured idols of rock, unable to do anything without the tacit approval of history? Fortunately not. The Boo Radleys are sifting through time (the mid-'60s, mostly) and conjuring up something that's as cut-up and ambitious as anything you'd care to mention". Reviewing the album's re-release in 2008, Sic Magazine wrote, "For 64 minutes they were the greatest band on the planet."
Giant Steps placed second to Debut by Björk in the 1993 NME album of the year list, voted by the paper's contributors, although it came in first place in the subsequent NME readers' poll. The now-defunct Select magazine declared Giant Steps their album of the year for 1993".
Wake Up! and beyond
Despite critical acclaim and a cult fanbase, the Boo Radleys were still largely unknown to the general public by the time the Britpop phenomenon broke into the mainstream in 1995. This changed when the band released the upbeat single "Wake Up Boo!" in the spring of that year. It made the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number 9. The single remained on the chart for two months, by far the band's longest run for any of its singles; later, on 26 October 2009, BFBS Forces Radio launched its live Afghanistan studio output with the track after it topped a listeners poll seeking a suitable first track. Carr describes writing the song watching The Big Breakfast after a night on acid. The follow-up release, "Find the Answer Within," was the band's only other single to chart for more than two weeks. Their fourth album Wake Up! (1995), was their commercial peak. Interviewed in 2005 by the BBC, Carr said: "I tried to have nothing to do with what was being called Britpop. Our whole career was spent trying not to 'fit in'. We just carried on doing what we had been doing. I didn't like most of the new bands or the flag-waving. I didn't like New Labour or idolise Paul Weller and I hated media-generated movements within music".
In 1996, the Boo Radleys released their fifth album C'mon Kids. As explained by Rowbottom in an interview in 2005: "We didn't want to scare away the hit-kids, we wanted to take them with us to somewhere that we'd not been before. All we wanted to do was make a different type of album than Wake Up... All we wanted to do was try something new - to keep ourselves fresh and interested. We were very surprised to find that it was seen as a deliberate attempt to scare away newly created fans. That would have been an extremely foolish thing to do."
The Boo Radleys' final album was 1998's Kingsize. One single was released from the album, "Free Huey!". The title track was due to have been released as a second single, but the band decided to split up. Sice later told Time Out magazine: "It was such a relief when Martin phoned me and said he didn't want to make any more records. We’d been wanting it to stop for quite a long time, but I couldn't do it – I didn't want to leave. I wanted the band to end and only Martin could have done that. There was always the fear if I left, that they would just get another singer in and I didn't want that. Never mind not having the heart to tour – I barely had the heart to go down to the studio while we were making Kingsize."
A compilation album, Find The Way Out, was released in 2005, and a further compilation The Best of the Boo Radleys appeared in 2007.
The Boo Radleys disbanded in early 1999. Brown built a popular recording studio before going on to John Moores University for teacher training. He progressed on to teaching information technology at St Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, and also taught at Park High School in Birkenhead.
Under the name Bravecaptain, Carr has since released six albums, including The Fingertip Saint Sessions Volume 1, Go With Yourself, Advertisements for Myself (2002) and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2004). His most recent album was titled Distractions. Carr has since announced that he will be retiring the Bravecaptain name to work on new projects, but these will not include reforming the Boo Radleys. His first solo album Ye Gods (And Little Fishes) was released in mid 2009. Cieka is now a member of the band Domino Bones, alongside Mark "Bez" Berry, formerly of Happy Mondays.
After an album in 1996 (First Fruits) under the name Eggman, while still a member of the Boo Radleys, Rowbottom walked away from music for several years after the split. Then, following a guest vocal on Bravecaptain's, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, and also two songs with the Japanese musician Ryo Matsui's solo project, Meister, he formed Paperlung. The band featured Rowbottom on vocals, Simon Gardiner on bass, Ben Datlen on guitar and Guillaume Jambel of Transcargo on drums. They released two singles, "The Days That God Sold You" and "Do What Thou Will", and an album, Balance.
|UK Albums Chart|
|1990||Ichabod and I
|1992||Everything's Alright Forever
|UK Albums Chart|
|1992||Learning to Walk
|2005||Find the Way Out
|2007||The Best of the Boo Radleys
|UK Singles Chart|
|Does This Hurt / Boo! Forever
|UK Singles Chart||IRL||N.Z.||US Alt|
|1993||"I Hang Suspended"||-||–||–||–|
|"Wish I Was Skinny"||75||–||–||–|
|1994||"Barney (...and Me)"||48||–||–||30|
|1995||"Wake Up Boo!"||Wake Up!||9||25||35||–|
|"Find the Answer Within"||37||–||–||–|
|"From the Bench at Belvidere"||—||24||–||–||–|
|1996||"What's in the Box (See Whatcha Got)"||C'mon Kids||25||–||–||–|
|1997||"Ride the Tiger"||38||–||–||–|
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 106–107. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- "Artist Chart History - Boo Radleys". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- Moody, Paul. "The Next Big Thing". NME. Boo Radleys Official. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps, Deluxe Edition". [sic] Magazine. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- Maconie, Stuart (19 January 1993). "Album of the Year". Select Magazine. Boo Radleys Official. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "Retrochart for March 1995". everyHit.com. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Live From Afghanistan". www.bfbs-radio.com. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
- "Wake Up Boo!". Boo Radleys. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- Dowling, Stephen (18 August 2005). "I survived Britpop". BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "interview with Sice (ex. Boo Radleys, now PAPERLUNG)". Eardrums Music. 8 May 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Sice interview, Time Out Abu Dhabi, April 2006
- Bosman, Julie (24 May 2010). "A Classic Turns 50, and Parties Are Planned". The New York Times.
- Rees, Paul, ed. (December 2003). "Where Are They Now?". Q (Bauer Media Group) (210): 42.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 70. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.