12 September 2005

the boo radleys - "lazarus (12" version)" (from the find the way out: the anthology lp, available for purchase as an import here.)

in brief : king tubby meets britpoppers in london town. a bassline that would wake the dead (but not radio 1 listeners.)

"britpoppers" isn't quite the term, nor is "shoegazers" or "baggy," though at one time or another they've been all of these things. that they couldn't be pigeonholed may explain what was to follow ...

not too long ago, vh1 had a countdown of the greatest one-hit wonder songs of all time. near the very top of the list--in the top three, if memory serves--were "come on eileen" and "tainted love." it's a shame that dexys and soft cell are remembered in this way (though it is nice to be remembered) but this isn't so surprising for british bands in america. but what must it be like, even w/ an estimable back catalog, but, alas, a top ten hit used on the morning shows that pissed off even the faithful, to be remembered this way in your own home country? such is the fate of the boo radleys.

"lazarus" is from giant steps, their breakthrough, which predated wake up! by two years. the version here is the 12" remix, which is the only way to hear it. "lazarus" begins like some primordial soup, elements enter, cross stereo channels, and whir out in an instant. it's as inconceivable as the opening of "california girls" must have seemed in 1965 or "how soon is now?" in 1985. it is a great gulf that separates this introduction and the song that follows; organization begins w/ the throbbing of a bassline. it is a bassline enough to wake all sleepers--and might've made for a better morning than "wake up, boo!"--and it points the way to an organ trill that crashes into horns and guitars like a wave beating the shore.

like jesus, the radleys could bring "lazarus" to life but they couldn't save their career. in the face of such a body of work, one has to believe that there are greater forces at play, that, by fading into near-obscurity, the boos were fulfilling some prophecy. in time, we may all know better, but for now, i advise you: don't sleep.

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