Somewhere on my hard drive there’s a track which mashes this song into Girls Aloud’s “Sound Of The Underground”. Like a lot of bootlegs it works as an act of criticism as well as a song: “These Boots” is indeed the knowing mid-00s pop aesthetic, almost forty years ahead of schedule. Take one celebrity starlet and one cynical songwriter, add sass and venom and a lucky bag of tricks, twists and gaps in the arrangement, and release. The opening bassline is heels down a spiral staircase, the final horn kicks are a nervous rush to obey, but really what’s being fetishised here is the single. Like “Good Vibrations” nine months later, “Boots” feels conceived and crafted not as a record of an ideal performance, but as a pop event, something unforgettable that sounds only like itself.
The ingredients might just about be familiar – a cruel but funny showtune sensibility (“truthin'”!); the dangerous bassy glamour of Kim Fowley’s teen dramas; the Brit girls’ amused detachment – but they haven’t been combined like this before, and no shopping list can capture the impact of “Boots”. That’s mostly down to Nancy Sinatra, who hardly has to sing the song, just act it. The band, and producer Lee Hazlewood, are canny enough to make the record move, so it doesn’t just become an icy exercise in snark. But still, half of what I love about pop seems to spring from her curled-lip “you” or her single, world-ending “Hah.” So here’s (yet) another definition of a great record: one that you can’t listen to without wanting to live it.