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The Boo Radleys

The Boo Radleys, 1993
Background information
Origin Wallasey, Merseyside, England
Genres Alternative rock
Noise pop
Dream pop
Years active 1988 – 1999
Labels Creation
Rough Trade Records
Columbia Records (US)
Martin Carr
Timothy Brown
Steve Hewitt
Rob Cieka

The Boo Radleys were a British 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 singer/guitarist Sice, guitarist/songwriter Martin Carr, bassist Timothy Brown and drummer Steve Hewitt. Their name is taken from the character of Boo Radley in Harper Lee's 1960 novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Shortly after the release of their first album, Hewitt was replaced by Rob Cieka. The band split in 1999.



In 1990, the band's first album Ichabod and I was released on a small British indie label, Action Records. It was similar in style to much of the then-popular shoegazing sub-genre, and bore the influence of My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. 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.

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, which was the first step in a move away from the shoegazing sound. That development in their sound was to be fully realized on Giant Steps (1993). The album takes its title from a song by jazz musician John Coltrane, of whom Martin Carr is a fan. Carr said the album "was a step away from the MBV sound into using more instruments and less conventional arrangements." The record was well-received by critics, and was awarded 9/10 by the influential weekly music magazine NME, which wrote:

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.

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 later albums

Despite such critical acclaim and a large 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 summer of that year. It made the UK chart top 10, and has been used extensively as background music on television. 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.[1]

The follow-up release, "Find the Answer Within," was the band's only other single to chart for more than 2 weeks, staying in the top 75 for a total of 3 weeks.

Their fourth album Wake Up! (1995), from which both singles were taken, was close in tone to much of the catchy, melodic, Beatles inspired British pop of the time. That said, many tracks featured unusual arrangements and relatively complex songwriting, and the subject matter of the album was quite dark compared to the upbeat nature of the music. The group came to be seen as a Britpop band, which, like most bands at that time, they resented. Interviewed in 2005 by the BBC, Martin 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, Carr and the Boo Radleys released their fifth album C'mon Kids. This album was perceived as deliberate attempt by the band to sabotage their mainstream success, as it featured more experimental sounds and was far less successful than 'Wake Up!'. However, this was not the intention of the band as explained by Sice 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."[2]

The Boo Radleys' final album was 1998's Kingsize, which again was a critical rather than commercial success. The band returned somewhat to the more mainstream sound of 'Wake Up!' but also were influenced in places by soul music, hip hop and dance music. 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 not long before this was due for release.

A career-spanning compilation, Find The Way Out, was released in 2005 featuring songs chosen by the band and a further compilation 'The Best of the Boo Radleys' was released in 2007, this time without input from the band.


The Boo Radleys disbanded in early 1999. Bassist Timothy Brown can now be found teaching Information Technology (ICT) at St Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel, in Northern Ireland. Under the name Bravecaptain, Martin 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 and is available for free download from his website. 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 mid 2009. Drummer Rob Cieka had earlier studied at Drumtech in London. He is now a member of the band Domino Bones, alongside Mark "Bez" Berry, formerly of the Happy Mondays.

After a solo album in 1996 ("First Fruits") under the name Eggman while still a member of the Boo Radleys, Sice 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 has recently formed a new band called Paperlung. The new band features Sice on vocals, Simon Gardiner on bass, Ben Datlen on guitar and Guillaume Jambel of Transcargo on drums. They played their first gig on 10th November 2005 at The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, London. To date the band have released two singles, The Days That God Sold You and Do What Thou Will, and an album, Balance.

On October 26th 2009, following a listener poll, BFBS Radio launched its live Afghanistan studio output with the Boo Radley's track "Wake Up Boo" [1]



Studio albums

Title Release date Record label U.K. Albums Chart
Ichabod and I July 1990 Action -
Everything's Alright Forever March 1992 Creation 55
Giant Steps July 1993 Creation 17
Wake Up! March 1995 Creation 1
C'mon Kids September 1996 Creation 20
Kingsize October 1998 Creation 62

Compilation albums

Title Release date Record label U.K. Albums Chart
Learning To Walk 1992 Rough Trade -
Find the Way Out July 2005 Castle Music -
The Best of the Boo Radleys May 2007 Camden -

EPs and singles

Year Title Record label U.K. Singles Chart
1990 Kaleidoscope EP Rough Trade -
1991 Every Heaven EP Rough Trade -
Boo Up! EP Rough Trade -
1992 Adrenalin EP Creation -
Boo! Forever EP Creation 67
"Lazarus" Creation 76
1993 "I Hang Suspended" Creation 77
"Wish I Was Skinny" Creation 75
1994 "Barney (...And Me)" Creation 48
"Lazarus" (re-release) Creation 50
1995 "Wake Up Boo!" Creation 9
"Find The Answer Within" Creation 37
"It's Lulu" Creation 25
"From the Bench at Belvedere" Creation 24
1996 "What's In The Box (See Whatcha Got)" Creation 25
"C'mon Kids" Creation 18
1997 "Ride The Tiger" Creation 38
1998 "Free Huey" Creation 54
"Kingsize" (Cancelled) Creation -


External links


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