“How f***ed up was the war on drugs? In Los Angeles, 1993, a few weeks before Christmas, a few weeks after River Phoenix had died on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room, a gram or two of heroin cost less than a gram or two of proper skunk weed due mainly to who and what had been getting busted of late. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if we weren’t day drinking, and feeling that something else was needed in the mix, and Gus from Idaho, being cheap, showed up with some heroin instead of the expected bud. And the thing is, none of us are that cool. We’ve never done heroin, but suddenly there it is getting laid out in narrow brownish lines on the coffee table, and yeah, we’re all just drunk enough to be stupid enough to not give a f***, even if you can die just snorting the stuff, particularly if you’re not used to it, if your body hasn’t built up a decent tolerance, this being common knowledge to anyone who’s seen Pulp Fiction. But then just as Greg from Osoyoos is rolling up a dollar bill, Slayer comes crashing in, full roar on the stereo. It’s Smith from Nelson, calling bullshit, enlisting no lesser ally than Lucifer himself, the Morning Star from his haunt way down south of heaven, demanding we see things at least slightly straight. Long story/short, we Just Said No to the heroin, went out for cheap tacos instead, ended up watching I Love Lucy reruns on some lost cable channel. And Slayer will forever have a place in my heart and soul, somewhere in the paradox file.” (Philip Random)
“Lazarus eventually showed up in truncated form on the Boo Radleys‘ third album Giant Steps, arguably the greatest album ever that hardly anyone’s ever heard (except a bunch of Brits in 1993 or thereabouts), but the version you need to hear is the original 12-inch single mix with the extended and ultimately profound lead-in. Over a minute before there’s a discernible beat, almost three before the trumpets of heaven properly unleash like the Lord’s own light shining through, turning confusion to epiphany, sorrow to joy, undeath to everlasting life (there is a difference). I may not believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, but I do believe in this song.” (Philip Random)
The Boo Radleys didn’t get much notice at the time (certainly over here in the Americas), and what notice they did get tended to be for the wrongstuff), but if you were in the right place in 1991-92-93, tuned to the right frequencies, you were lucky enough to know a godlike, noisy and powerful pop that could cause actual changes in the weather. Maybe if they’d bothered to put something as gobsmackingly ascendant as At The Sound of Speed on an actual album as opposed to burying it on the b-side of an EP, things might have played out a little differently.
The Boo Radleys are one of those bands whose relative lack of fame remains a profound mystery. Maybe they weren’t pretty enough, or maybe folks just get too weirded out by music that takes them to that strange and giddy realm where unbounded joy crashes into the reality of gravity, and profound dimensions of what can only be called beauty get unleashed – Barney (and Me) being a prime example of all that. Found on 1993’s Giant Steps, which remains (arguably) the greatest album you probably haven’t heard.