James Kirk's long overdue debut solo album was finally released in 2003, and the guitarist finally displayed the frontman flare that eluded him for the early parts of his musical career. As a founding member of Orange Juice, Kirk had already cemented his name into rock history, but with You Can Make It if You Boogie, he clearly shines in the limelight on his own. Having left Orange Juice after the band's stunning debut, You Can't Hide Your Love Forever, in 1982, Kirk's solo debut came as a surprise to many, as his musical output since then was sporadic. "Get on Board" opens the disc with a bright, orchestral sound, while Kirk slows down the pace on the folksy "Nilsson." The album's diversity continues with the lush grooves of "Rehab," the sly coolness of "Cardboard Castles," and the subdued art rock of "Outre." By this time, Kirk has already made a noteworthy impression, and the disc isn't even half over. The clean, jangly guitars stand out on each track, while Kirk's vocals are as crisp as ever on songs like "Krach Auf Wiedersehen." "Houston, Texas" includes a mini-rap by Kirk, while "Liggin' Round Again" might be the grooviest track of the disc, and "Fruitier Than Thou," like much of the disc, seems to flow out of Kirk with a simple and graceful ease. A new, relaxed version of the Orange Juice classic "Felicity" is featured, and includes a new bridge with the title line prominently featured. The restrained coolness of "Western Pier" rounds out the 13-track disc. Guest musicians on the disc include Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, Aztec Camera's Campbell Owens, and guitarist Mick Slaven. In the end, with You Can Make It if You Boogie, Kirk extended his already far-reaching influence even further. It's an impressive effort for old and new fans alike. Produced by Mick Slaven at Glasgow's Riverside Studios, Germany's Marina Records released the disc in August 2003.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer