Going For A Song: ‘Four Saints’


Boo Radleys – Four Saints

The eagle eared of you will have picked up on the allusion to The Boo Radleys at the end of my last post on Kevin Morby (‘I hang suspended’, anyone?). The Boo Radleys are maybe now best known, if they are known at all, for their song ‘Wake up Boo!’. A song so ubiquitous on morning radio shows in the mid-nineties, that Capital FM would probably balk at playing it now for the worry of seeming too obvious.

The simplistic view as usual though obscures the actuality. For The Boo Radleys were a deeply experimental pop group. They also, like another band around this time – Manic Street Preachers – opened up, through references, and by including quotes on their inner record sleeves, literature to a generation. But while the Manics are recognised as doing as much, and accredited with disrupting the common narrative of Britpop bandied about, the Boos are not. Why? I’m not sure. It is maybe that unlike the Manics, who for their defining album The Holy Bible drew on post-punk (a genre feted now, but not then in ’94 I’d argue), the Boos drew on pop music and the sound recording techniques of the era. This is why listening to some of their songs now, they in parts can sound ‘dated’. But experimental pop bands have always known to take risks is maybe to sound silly in time.

This is why I’ve chosen the song ‘Four Saints’ off their C’mon Kids album. I could have chosen a better song off it, or off Giant Steps, or Wake Up!, or King Size. But ‘Four Saints’ is the best demonstration of The Boo Radleys’ willingness to experiment, fail, whilst simultaneously producing great moments, all within one song. And maybe the choice of it is a problem if I want you to go and listen to The Boo Radleys, but it’s worth the sacrifice to try to make my point. But believe me, The Boo Radleys got it very, very right many times on those albums I just mentioned; and they deserve the same, if not more praise, for their willingness to make mistakes, than any of the other more plodding of their contemporaries who have reformed and surfed a nostalgic need of a certain generation.

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