lunedì 24 agosto 2009
The Boo Radleys "C'mon Kids"
E poi uno va a dire che i Boo sono commerciali!! I Boo sono geniali. In pieno brit pop ti sfornano l'album delle meraviglie con Wake Up Boo e sono tutti in ginocchio e poi continuano su questa onda? Eh no, qui abbiamo Mr Martin Carr che cambia le carte in tavola e invece che adagiarsi sulla melodia realizza 1 album sonico, tosto, e non certo così immediato come il precedente. Ma è una scelta consapevole, è la voglia di cambiare, di stupire, di prendere la materia pop e plasmarla come vogliono e quindi ecco canzoni assurde, sbilenche, celestiali e infernali, melodie che partono e poi cambiano, chitarre ora tranquille ora distorte....e i Boo questo lo sanno fare alla grande! Un disco perfetto. (1996 Creation)
In an episode of The Simpsons entitled Bart of Darkness, when his new outdoor swimming pool attracts the local children in their dozens, Martin Prince can be heard to exclaim “More! More I say! Hang those who talk of less”.
Much the same image comes to mind when trying to imagine what his forenamesake Carr and his pals would have been like in the studio recording C’Mon Kids, The Boo Radleys’ sixth album (and fourth on Creation). Tapestries of counterpointing vocal lines, layer upon layer of guitars, effects, noises, beats, feedback, electronics and acoustics, spoken word, horns, and much, much more coalesce to produce an album which is the perfect distillation of the Boos’ love of My Bloody Valentine and The Beatles.
Along with many ‘indie’ acts after the explosion of Britpop, they were at the time seen by some as a chart act, singularly due to the recently established summer ubiquity of the hit single Wake Up Boo. Pity the poor folk who bought this album’s lead single on the basis of liking ‘that wake up song’. What’s in the Box was the perfect introduction to one of the main pillars of the album - guitars. Loud ones. Loud ones riding in on the back of pummelling drums exhorting them to get louder, eschewing chart-friendly middle eights or guitar solos for more pounding and screaming. The album then delivered the perfect riposte to those hoping they would react against their outsider heritage and embrace their new found radio friendly unit shifting status.
Guitars do everything on this record – they scream and roar, they fuzz and whirl, they drone and whine, they wah-wah and then for good measure wah some more, and blister the ears with a fantastic abandon. Even a quieter, almost relatively pastoral track like the wistfully evocative New Brighton Promenade finds time after the second chorus to fill a balloon with fuzztones, let go of the end, and let it jag and dart around until the song comes back to rest with a final chorus.
Most bands will describe an album as ‘some fast ones, a couple of slower ones, and one or two in the middle’. This would barely be adequate to describe individual songs on C’Mon Kids – this record has more ideas packed in to it than some bands come up with in their entire career. Songs stop and start, fade in and out, move and shift, never allowing you to settle, which makes the whole seem like a new adventure on every subsequent listen. Vocals are treated, sped up, slowed, screamed, inverted, whispered, spat; bass parts bounce and jump, slide up and down, drive and restrain, and again all of these sometimes within the same song.
Melodies For The Deaf, Bullfrog Green, Four Saints and Ride The Tiger each contain multiple sections all differentiated by tempo, rhythm, melody and vocal style. The title track is another raw stomper like the single, the guitar coming on like a crazed carousel tune, whilst Fortunate Sons takes you into another of The Boos’ regular forays into dub territory with its huge, woozy beats, almost somnambulist snare snaps and lugubrious bass; Melodies… mixes the shrapnel guitars with theremin, whilst Get On The Bus simply declares all the guitars to this point have been TOO LIGHTWEIGHT BY FAR, and yet still decides to settle matters by ending with an almost hymnal reverie.
Lyrically, Carr is no poet, but his words have an integrity and an honesty which manage to imbue his most personal feelings with an everyman sense of familiarity. The themes are recurrent from previous Boos albums within this one. Essentially, the individual is great, and individuals together are great, but the man isn’t. Live life to the fullest, and “Fuck the ones who tell you that life is merely a time before dying” (C’Mon Kids)
Martin thinks he’s a bit crap – “all is sad and you’re the proof” he opines on Everything is Sorrow but he understands what made him that way, so he knows love will win the day, and wouldn’t have it any other way:
“There are three saints who shaped my life
Alban, Bede and Mary
I’ve nothing but disrespect for them
And what they almost made me…..
Those who taught taught what they were taught
Not what they had learned
Sister I can’t feel what you feel let me try….
I believe in love
Laugh if you want, I don’t care
Because I don’t dare”
The penultimate track, Ride the Tiger, encapsulates the album in six minutes. It opens with feedback, then two verses of soft, plaintive acoustic guitar and doleful vocal, intertwined with looping arcs of THAT guitar again, moving into two organ driven choruses that make clear Carr’s vision of the way life should be lived –
“I don t want to miss a thing
Don’t wanna regret anything
I wanna stand next to the fire
Make it higher, ride the tiger”.
Then the song moves into what appears to be a simple mixing of the lead guitar part over the chorus melody, and yet the layers pile on, and on, until the music reaches a crescendo and collapses into a blissful piece of drone-rock. Not finished there, however, as a tribal rhythm takes over, birdsong and poetry mix over flourishes of organ and a muted, jazzy trumpet…..oh , and there’s some backwards vocals as well, before the whole thing drifts back, almost exhausted, into the acoustic verse pattern to finish. Astounding.
The decision to not follow the hit making pathway ultimately meant the Boos would be no more less than 3 years after this record, despite following it with another great set, adding Jimmy Webb obsessions to their musical brew with Kingsize. However, C’Mon Kids ensured that they remained one of the few indie-crossover bands of 1994-5 to make better music after that period than they did before. For that we must be thankful. A true classic. (Graham Quinn - http://www.twistedear.com)
- C'mon Kids
- Meltin's Worm
- Melodies for the Deaf (Colours for the Blind)
- Get on the Bus
- Everything Is Sorrow
- Bullfrog Green
- What's in the Box? (See Whatcha Got)
- Four Saints
- New Brighton Promenade
- Fortunate Sons
- Ride the Tiger
- One Last Hurrah
THE BOO RADLEYS