When talking about the band I have to confess I’m out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the ‘Talking Heads’ and their namesake song “Radio Head“. The band had been called ‘On a Friday’ but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album “Pablo Honey’ (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there’s the ‘sixth member’ producer Nigel Godrich who’s done all their albums since 1994. Their song “Creep” charted top 40 across the world and it’s depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melody borrows from “The Air that I Breathe” a song ‘The Hollies‘ successfully covered in 1974. A lawsuit was settled quite amicably and songwriter and original singer of “The Air that I Breathe” Albert Hammond and his collaborator Mike Hazlewood were paid royalties and added as co-writers. Also from the album is “Anyone Can Play Guitar” and “Stop Whispering” a tribute to another big influence, the ‘Pixies‘.
Their second album ‘The Bends’ (1995) a fitting precursor to their next masterpiece includes their top charting single “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” which reached #5. Since covered 17 times, instrumental and vocal most notably by Peter Gabriel (2010).
‘OK Computer’ (1997) is their third studio album and from what I understanding was a masterpiece and a groundbreaking achievement. I’ve read more than one comparison to The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ which is lofty praise indeed.
Full of futuristic, computer age techno references it’s singles released include; “Karma Police” covered at least 35 times both vocal and instrumental. I found this curious cover on Youtube, Shefita (2013), “Paranoid Android” covered over 30 times, Weezer (2011) and perhaps the most popular “No Surprises” covered over 40 times, I quite like Regina Spektor (2010), she donated all proceeds to Doctors Without Borders Emergency Relief Fund.
I referred to this article from Billboard Magazine for help on what other songs to talk about as I’ll not break down their next six albums. “Everything in Its Right Place” (2000) on the Album ‘Kid A’, “Pyramid Song” from the Album ‘Amnesiac’ (2001), “There There” from 2003’s ‘Hail to the Thief’, “Atoms for Peace” ‘The Eraser’ (2006), “15 Step” from ‘In Rainbows’ (2007), “Lotus Flower” (2011) ‘The King of Limbs’ and from the 2016 ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ the track “True Love Waits” which the band had been playing since 1995 but could not agree on a final studio arrangement until this album.
According to Secondhandsongs.com, 77 of the bands original songs have been covered by other artists, which in my estimation is very impressive. The same source shows only two songs being covered by Radiohead, “Ceremony” originally from the conjoined bands of Joy Division and New Order in 1981. And “Rhinestone Cowboy” written and originally performed by Larry Weiss (1974) and of course a huge hit for Glen Campbell (1975).
In 2017-18 there was apparently a spat with Lana Del Rey over her song “Get Free” for bearing a similarity to their 1993 breakthrough hit ‘Creep’, I’m not entirely sure what came of that but it seems odd since Radiohead settled over that song resembling “The Air that I Breathe” as I mentioned earlier. Here is a good demonstration of the similarities, and forgive the fact (as most do) he incorrectly references the song as ‘belonging’ to The Hollies.
Earlier this year on the Radiohead Facebook page they said that someone had stolen a MiniDisc archive belonging to frontman Thom Yorke and demanded $150,000 while threatening to release the material. “Instead of complaining much or ignoring it,” the band members decided to upload the tracks to https://bandcamp.com/, where they were accessible for the next 18 days.
They were inducted by David Byrne (Talking Heads) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 29 of this year. Byrne highly praised the band for their innovation and profound effect on the entire music business through their unique marketing and distribution. While the band is still together they are all working on solo projects and a reworking of songs from ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’.
(Hey O. how’d I do?)
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