07.30.2015 — “Rodney King (Song For Lenny Bruce)” by The Boo Radleys

The Boo Radleys

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)” by The Boo Radleys (1993, from the album Giant Steps).

This song has been running through my head for about two days,and it’s been a long time since I’ve written about anything from the 1990s, so I’m doing something a little different tonight.

The Boo Radleys was an alternative rock band from a small town in northwestern England. Obviously, they took their name from the character in To Kill a Mockingbird and the title of this album from the John Coltrane album of the same name. They were active between 1988 and 1999, releasing six albums in that span. They started their career as a shoegaze/psychedelic band, but by the end of their career, they did what so many other bands did and abandoned their vision for something that sold records: Britpop. I never even heard their last album Kingsize(1998), but a fair portion of their 1996 album C’Mon Kids is straight Britpop. The title track is a fantastic song, but it doesn’t even sound like The Boo Radleys. It sounds exactly like Oasis.

The story I’ve heard a couple of times is that everyone in the band kind of wanted it to end after C’Mon Kids, but nobody took the initiative to start that conversation. They made that last record even though nobody really wanted to. I don’t think they toured in support of that last record. They just released it and pulled the plug. This isn’t about that though.

The band’s shift to Britpop notwithstanding, they’re a band that I really should have been a huge fan of. I’m a massive fan of tonight’s song, but not much else from their oeuvre. There’s a very good reason that I’m a huge fan of this song. Meriel Barham from Pale Saints does the vocals. Most of my favorite Pale Saints songs are the early stuff with Ian Masters doing all of the vocals, but that’s a different story for a different day.

There’s quite a lot of electronic/synthetic stuff going on here, but there’s also some really great shoegazey guitar stuff. And of course Meriel Barham’s angelic voice.

“Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce” by The Boo Radleys

Again and again:

Do You know my name
Before you tear me apart?
Do you care who I am?

I don’t think this has anything to do with the Rodney King incident, and I don’t think it has anything to do with Lenny Bruce. The first time through, there’s another vocal track after it, and I’ve never been able to understand what’s going on. For a long time, I thought that those vocals were a backwards loop, but I’m not sure of that anymore. No matter how hard I try (and I don’t have any way to isolate that or run it backwards) I just can’t figure it out. It doesn’t matter, though, because Meriel Barham crushed those 16 words.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

One response to “07.30.2015 — “Rodney King (Song For Lenny Bruce)” by The Boo Radleys

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