While the members of On A Friday, the band that later became Radiohead, were on a break as they attended college, Thom Yorke was a member of a band called Headless Chickens. This is a video of a circa-1989 performance by the band of "High and Dry", a song that later on Radiohead's second album, The Bends, released in 1995.
Technically this photo was taken several years (probably in 1986 or 1987) before Radiohead officially came to be, but it features four out of the five members, back when the group was called On a Friday.
From left to right, Thom Yorke, Phil Selway, Ed O'Brien, and Colin Greenwood. This occasion marked one of the last times that Yorke smiled for a photo. (via buzzfeed)
Still, I think music fans and cultural observers need to grapple with this a little: Radiohead's first album, Pablo Honey, came out 18 years ago. Here's another way to think about it: when that album came out, I was 13; now I'm 31. And from at least The Bends to the present, they've commanded the attention of the musical press and the rock audience as one of the top ten -- or higher -- bands at any given moment. You might have loved Radiohead, you might have been bored by them, you might have wished they'd gone back to an earlier style you liked better, but you always had to pay attention to them, and know where you stood. For 18 years. That's an astonishing achievement.
As Anil has his hands busy with a new baby, I'll wade in here and point out that Tim's examples don't include any pop, rap, R&B, or hip hop. Jay-Z hasn't been around as long as Radiohead, but he's getting there. The Beastie Boys had at least 15 years. Madonna and Michael Jackson each had 20 culturally relevant years, more or less. I'm probably forgetting a few, but yeah, that's still not a long list.
It's called 01 and 10...ok, it's not really a lost album. But apparently if you take the first five songs from OK Computer (from 1997) and the first five songs from In Rainbows (from 2007) and alternate them, the songs fit together musically and lyrically to form a coherent album.
Consider that In Rainbows was meant to complement OK Computer, musically, lyrically, and in structure. We found that the two albums can be knit together beautifully. By combining the tracks to form one playlist, 01 and 10, we have a remarkable listening experience. The transitions between the songs are astounding, and it appears that this was done purposefully.
The lyrics also seem to complement each other. There appears to be a concept flowing through the 01 and 10 playlist. Ideas in one song is picked up by the next, such as "Pull me out of the aircrash," and "When I'm at the pearly gates, this will be my videotape."
We had a few complaints that the MP3s of our last record wasn't encoded at a high enough rate. Some even suggested we should have used FLACs, but if you even know what one of those is, and have strong opinions on them, you're already lost to the world of high fidelity and have probably spent far too much money on your speaker-stands.
This conversation with Greenwood is part of a new series by Sasha Frere-Jones' on the sound quality of recorded music.
"None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again," he said. "Not straight off ... It worked with In Rainbows because we had a real fixed idea about where we were going. But we've all said that we can't possibly dive into that again. It'll kill us."
An inventive cover version of Radiohead's Nude played by the following instruments: Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer, Epson dot matrix printer, HP Scanjet scanner, and an array of hard drives. Skip ahead to 1:08 if you can't wait through the opening. This isn't the correct technological time period to be steampunk. Bitpunk anyone? (via waxy)
Pitchfork: The Pitchfork review of Hail to the Thief put forth the idea that "anything Radiohead does from here on out will sound like Radiohead"...
CG: That's like a late-night stoner comment. At about three in the morning -- after you've put on Captain Beefheart and you put the red scarf over the light bulb -- it makes a lot of sense. But the next morning you're like, "I don't know, maybe the world is fucked and we didn't solve it." So I don't know about that.
Sounds like he's got Pitchfork figured out. And as your musical sommelier, I'd recommend the 2007 In Rainbows with this interview.
Marginal Revolution and CNN (and New York magazine and Reddit and etc.) asked their respective readers: how much did you pay for In Rainbows, Radiohead's new album which is only available as a pay-what-you-want download. I paid around £8.50 (~ US$17), which splits the difference between a typical album price in the UK and the US. (Actually, what I did was download it from elsewhere because Radiohead's online store was down yesterday morning and then went back to pay for it just now.)
Radiohead has a new album coming out called In Rainbows. It's only available from their site for now, either as a download (released Oct 10) or as a "discbox" that includes the CD, a bonus CD, two records, and assorted photos, books, etc. (released Dec 3). (via rex)
Update: Also, Radiohead is letting the buyer choose his/own price for the online album. This has been done before, notably by Magnatune, who offers albums for between $5 and $18 with a recommended price of $8...and people often pay more than the recommended. (thx, greg)
Spin magazine's recent list of the best albums from the last twenty years (as well as MSNBC's alternate list) got me thinking about what my favorites list from that era might look like. Since I'm not Spin and my musical opinion doesn't carry any weight, I felt free to list what I like, influenced me, continue to find enjoyable, and will still listen to in the future instead of what's actually good...whatever good means.
In rough chronological order and briefly annotated:
Nevermind, Nirvana - As I've mentioned before, I was a late bloomer musically. Nothing outside of Casey Kasem and his Top 40 countdown existed for me when I was a kid. And when you're listening to music like that, it's hard to get excited about music in general...I was pretty much apathetic about the whole thing. My freshman year in college, a guy on my floor got a nice stereo system for Christmas and when he threw on Smells Like Teen Spirit, that was it. I'm sure the bands and songs that opened your mind to the possibilities of music and life were a lot better, but you can't really choose how/why/when/where that happens.
Rave 'Til Dawn, Various - This is the worst album on the list but may be the most influential in terms of my future listening habits. For a kid who grew up in the country and went to college in a small Iowa city, hearing rave music for the first time was a complete revelation for me. I had no idea people were making music like this, so fast, so joyous, so unlike anything that anyone I knew would enjoy listening to. I loved it immediately and have been a huge fan of electronica ever since.
The Chronic, Dr. Dre - Introducing Snoop Doggy Dogg, probably my favorite rapper. So smooth. And Dre's beats are among the best in the business.
Siamese Dream, Smashing Pumpkins - College junior, couldn't get laid...isn't this what I was supposed to be listening to?
The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails - I still tell anyone who will listen that Closer is one of the best pop songs ever made. Pretty Hate Machine was probably the better album, but I fell in like with this one first.
Entroducing..., DJ Shadow - One of the most solid debut albums in the past 20 years.
Orblivion, The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds is my favorite song from The Orb, but Orblivion is the album I'll never get tired of. Saw them spin/play live in Minneapolis once and when Toxygene came on, it was almost religion.
Homework, Daft Punk - Around the World is my answer to the question, "if you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one song with you, what would it be?" I've probably listened to it about a thousand times in the past 8 years and I'm still not sick of it.
OK Computer, Radiohead - Somehow it wasn't until mid-2000 that I heard this album (old habits die hard), but it didn't take long to become a favorite. Still their best...although I haven't given their earlier stuff the attention everyone I know says it deserves. Radiohead = favorite band.
Bedrock, John Digweed - Cheesy trance music, but I love it. This album reminds me of my (then) new Jetta and fine times in Minneapolis.
Agaetis Byrjun, Sigur Ros - I found Sigur Ros while poking around on Napster looking for an advanced copy of Radiohead's Amnesiac. Boy, I thought, this Amnesiac album is going to be fantastic, but what happened to the vocals? Oh, heh.
Boards of Canada, Geogaddi - I can't remember how I found out about Boards of Canada. Online somewhere probably, downloading mp3s off of Limewire or something. After hearing a few songs, I immediately procured Geogaddi and Music Has The Right To Children from my nearest CD shop. Fantastic stuff...they make me wish I could make music.
Give Up, The Postal Service - Might be too early to tell, but I think this is a classic.
Conclusions: I seem to like all sorts of music, but the common thread is the mainstream-ness of these albums; they're typically the most popular examples of a particular genre, style, or time period. Gangsta rap wasn't that mainstream at the time, but The Chronic went multi-platinum. Nevermind was grunge for the mainstream, and The Downward Spiral was one of the few industrial albums to make it big. The same for Rave 'Til Dawn, Daft Punk, DJ Shadow, Smashing Pumpkins, and Sigur Ros, if to a lesser extent.