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Radiohead - Pablo Honey CD (album) cover

PABLO HONEY

Radiohead

Crossover Prog


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frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Radiohead began in excellent form, starting at the height of the grunge movement, this album sounds like a direct spin off of "nevermind" by nirvana and has grunge qualities. Radiohead appealed to the masses with their anthemic, "Creep" which still remains a damn good song and is one of the more Radiohead-esque pieces from this album. Thoms vocals are brilliant, daring and original and the bands guitar sound shows subtle hints of what they were to become as there is a sense of unease that suggest Radiohead are no ordinary band, and they are not.

This is the music i listened to when i was growing up as a child, introduced by my mum and at the time i would have thought this album would have deserved more than a 3 star rating but it has not aged well at all. With Radiohead continuing to expand their experimental sound, this album seems to get pushed back furthur to the bottom of the pile, when you do decide to revisit this debut it sounds amazing but compared to the newer works it is not something you always want to look back on. Why listen to Pablo Honey when you can put on one of the albums that followed this.

The album flows well with a strong first half yet after "ripcord" it seems to lose its impact. "Creep" is the only song on here that is still famous and is still great to listen to (if you can be bothered, it is played a lot in the UK). "Thinking about You" is one of the strongest and original tracks on the album, a bittersweet lovesick sing along in true radiohead depressing style. "Stop Whispering" and follow up single "Anyone Can Play Guitar" are standout tracks. "Lurgee" and "Blow Out" are some of the few tracks that the band still consider playing live.

There are absolutely no hints of prog here, but the band do start to hint to there unique experimental mainstream rock qualities that go well against the norm. This is a good start yet i recommend all the other studio albums above this one.

Report this review (#33905)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Alas, Radiohead's debut has not aged well at all in any way. Momentary flashes of the group's later brilliance pop up occasionally (most notably in the horrendously-overplayed (yet still high quality) "Creep" and the wonderful "Anyone Can Play Guitar"), but for the most part, it's a group trying to find its voice and failing miserably, as most of this album will be forgotten as soon as you're done listening to it.

Some would say that this album was ahead of its time when it came out. No it wasn't. Radiohead sounded like every other post-grunge outfit on the radio at that time. It can't really be "ahead of its time" if its sound can be classified by the time period it was released in.

Some would also say that you shouldn't come down so harshly on this album for being such an early release by the band, and this may be true. However, just going by the differences between Pablo Honey and The Bends (their second album), the jump in quality between the two is staggering. Even the difference in quality between Pablo Honey and the My Iron Lung EP (released the year after Pablo Honey) is pretty noticeable.

Overall, what we're left with are the very sketchy beginnings of one of the greatest bands in rock and roll. Some of you Radiohead fans might be tempted to buy it just to make your collection complete. Don't. You'll probably only listen to this album once and put it away on a shelf somewhere. Your money would be much better spent elsewhere. Also, those of you thinking about buying Pablo Honey as an intro to the group should think again. The Bends makes a much better introduction to the group's sound.

Report this review (#33906)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
theinfiltrate
2 stars I should give this one 3 stars but I don't think most people here will enjoy it. It's just a "nice" little "grunge" album. It has its moments, but there's nothing essential here. I kinda like "Blow Out", "Thinking About You", and a few others, but they are not great. I'm not attracted to the hit "Creep", and the weaker songs here are not as bad as some claim, but they are mediocre.
Report this review (#33907)
Posted Friday, January 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I mean, RADIOHEAD is not a prog band... is a band of musicians that like to make music, that's all. This record is the prefect example of grunge, proto-indie and post-rock. The classic overburned CREEP is part of the "rebel alliance" of the early nineties that set us free from the tacky 80's, and of course is a very bland record in terms of complexity and originality, however, these guys makes some history reating a unique sound and prescence in tv, videos and mostly the stage. So, this is a record for the "outsider" of prog, never try to understand it as is, leave it as pure and simple "brit-rock"
Report this review (#33909)
Posted Wednesday, March 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars not prog-rock album but good grunge album,mostly melancholy and they give same feeling to you...NO bad songs here!!if you like good songs and crunchy guitar,you must listen... its perfect tune...and they show : they are not one hit wonder group..

some hints there(little progressive)...stop whispering,lurgee,prove yourself,all of this has complex structres,short but good songs...also has good enstrumantel passages...

album's songs not as brit-pop grup...good guitar harmonies.. mostly 3 pieces guitar and orginal chord progressions,may be not long songs but really good and interesting structres...they say:we are going to progressive future!!

true master piece for grunge,may be little progressive movement on some songs,but it's not progressive album as the oter radiohead's albums...

i think radiohead is progressive/grunge band,the bends and ok computer are true neo- progressive album(as tool or a perfect circle)..kid a,amnsiac and hail to the thiefs are space/progressive/psychedelic albums...

Report this review (#33912)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
smelliottheat
3 stars A deceptive debut!!

You wudn't have listened to this in 1993 and imagined that just 4 yrs later, radiohead wud release the greatest album of the 90's (in many ppls opinion) and one of the greatest albums ever (in my opinion) and you certainly wudnt have expected them to release an album lyk 'kid A', just 7 yrs later!!

it's not a patch on their later work, it's far more teenagery than 'the bends' and it doesn't in any way foreshadow 'OK computer'

the track which made the album for many was 'creep' which is considered to be radiohead's equivilent of 'smells like teen spirit' however the stand out track for me is the powerful 'stop whispering'!!

there r some good tracks in the album, and some pretty lame tracks aswell (i wont name any names) and in true radiohead fashion, the album opens (you) and closes (blow out) very well, the opening and closing songs are definately 'stand-out tracks'!!

it's a good album on it's own, but it isn't great, it suffers from being too 'teen-angst ridden' and is trying to sound to much lyk a 'grunge album', it doesn't stand up at all well to their later work, and isn't a patch on even 'the bends'!!

3 stars - 6.5 out of 10!!

Report this review (#33914)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Who needs a review of this album? Certainly few of the people who look to a progressive rock site for info will appreciate this least of the band's albums- least progressive, least experimental, least distinctive. In the hindsight of musical history, it seems almost deliberately generic; the early 90s airwaves were awash with pop songs dressed in heavier, sloppier sounds that appeared to look towards Seattle for inspiration. Had the band despaired, this album would have been remembered only for a one-hit wonder and RADIOHEAD would have been forgotten in the dull realm somewhere between BUSH's grunge parody and OASIS' britpop whining. Those who have a soft spot for either band might well enjoy "Pablo Honey" on its own terms, but I suspect this doesn't apply to the bulk of progressive fans.

Like several million other people, I bought "Pablo Honey" purely for "Creep". Right around the same time, I bought "Undertow" because of "Sober". I suppose it is worth saying that my girlfriend loved both songs- but, to be fair, I enjoyed them well enough myself. Neither album proceeded to blow me away as a whole; both struck me as a slightly more mainstream-friendly take on various sounds that had been kicking around underground for some time. "Anyone Can Play Guitar" was fun, and the other songs often rocked or complained appropriately. Yorke's petulant insouciance and dark humor peeks out from time to time, though it seldom seems more than the typical alternative songwriter's post-teenage angst. "Blow Out" was a tantalizing left turn at the close of the disc...I can't say I love it, but it hints at other inspirations lurking beneath the rest of the album's pleasant but unimpressive college-radio alt-rock themes. I tried to make the most of what seemed increasingly to be an impulse purchase, but it was a losing battle. Whatever the case, at no point did the word 'progressive' enter my mind.

Of course, time has changed all that; both TOOL and RADIOHEAD have since proved they have much more to offer than these pale debuts. This is not without precedent in the prog world- think of "Rush", for instance, or GENESIS' pre-"Trespass" attempts. These are all albums that even hardcore fans may struggle to enjoy, and hardcore proggers will want to reserve their time for more challenging fare. Yet all of these have their own occasional, idiosyncratic value (as well as historical worth), so you probably won't regret listening- as long as you don't expect to hear the band at anywhere near their best.

Report this review (#44049)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
davidlevinson
2 stars On a mainstream level, this is a great Album. It came out at when grunge/alt. started to flourish. On a Prog-level, I can't recccomend it. It's not up there with the likes of O.K Computer or Kid A. The thing is, they began as pure Allt-rock, then eased into the prog-genre, and albums such as this and the bends are on the site. It is not my intention to downgrade P.H, but it is not true prog, therefore, can't reccomend it to prog-rock purists. If this happend to be a pure alt rock site, this album would be highly reccomended!
Report this review (#61556)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
internetsafet
3 stars Pablo Homey is an O.K. album, some songs are great, some aren't so great. But I think the main reason this or Drill haven't had good ratings is because they aren't really Prog albums, this is Radiohead's first studio album, this is before they started experimenting and producing such masterpieces like The Bends, OK Computer and Kid A. I think that should be taken into account. THIS IS A ROCK/POP ALBUM, NOT PROG! Still alright though :P
Report this review (#69465)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Radiohead is not a "complete" "convincent" prog rock band, so if this album were a masterpiece, i cannot give it 5 stars because this isnot a prog album so, lets start:

As we know, Radiohead is one of the most well known bands around the world, well i think that, and their first bomb was that song Creep, a love song a pain song i dont know, but that is included in this album, i think the most of the people who bought this album, was because of only that song, but anyway, this is their debut album, and it sounds too simple, with guitars, in every song we can find similar chords and always the same time signature. You is i think their first single, a good song, all Radiohead fans (like me) enjoy it for sure, then the song Creep. their most overrated song, then How do You, Stop Whispering, another two songs, nothing in special, but then here comes one of the best songs here, Thinking About You, it is the acoustic version, because the fast version is horrible, this is beautiful, excellent lyric and for me the music is quite simple but sounds good, then Anyone can Play Guitar which talk aa bit about Jim Morrison, then Ripcord, next Vegetable, i dont know really what is the beauty of this song, but i really love it, next Prove Yourself, I Cant, Lurgee, three simple songs ... and for me the best track of this album is the last one Blow Out, it has a very good sound, distorted guitars and great composition, of course this is heir first and worst album, but it was the beggining of a great band, Thom Yorke`s voice is great like always, but this album is not so good, so for progressive fans im sure it is horrible, for me its not horrible but i will give it only 2 stars.

Report this review (#74597)
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am gonna be sincere with you all but i just cant understand why people excessively are rating this album so low. For me there is something very mysterious in Pablo Honey, it's depressing but hopeful at the same time, the melodies are intricate and beautiful . The guitar work is extremely sensitive and absorbing, the poetic lyrics by Thom Yorke are perfect " You are the sun and moon and stars, are you and i could never run away from you." In a way this isn't something essencial for progressive rock fans, but for those who want to know how Radiohead develop their style and maturity. An amazing debut album. 4.5 *
Report this review (#104566)
Posted Tuesday, December 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The alternating bars of 12/8 and 11/8 that drive "Pablo Honey's" opening track, "You," should have given some indication to the masses that Radiohead would not be forever content to dwell in indie rock's lo-fi world. Though a solid debut effort, "Pablo Honey" gives little indication that Radiohead would go on to influence an entire generation of bands (Coldplay, Travis, Doves, Keane, et al).

"Pablo Honey" is most famous for the hit single "Creep," a simple post-grunge pop song completely atypical of the Oxford quintet's style. In fact, the song was never originally intended for the album. As the story goes, Thom Yorke had written it years before and was strumming it in the studio, when a passing record exec heard it and insisted on including it on the record. The rest is history, as they say. Though "Creep" ranks among Radiohead's least distinctive songs, it did put them on the music world's map, for which we should be eternally thankful.

Beyond "Creep," only a few songs stand out: "You" with its driving odd meters; the heartfelt ballad "Thinking About You;" the energetic "Ripcord;" and the dynamic "Stop Whispering," which starts as a catchy pop tune but builds to a ferocious crescendo that foreshadows Radiohead's evolution towards more complex arrangements. "Pablo Honey's" performances and production values are solid but lackluster, and may disappoint those expecting the studio wizardry and technical virtuosity Radiohead would go on to achieve on "The Bends," "OK Computer," and "Kid A."

All in all, "Pablo Honey" is a decent record, far overrated by the indie mavens who disowned Radiohead after they went "art rock," and unlikely to satisfy those more familiar with their later, more progressive work. It's a worthwhile debut, but remains a curio in Radiohead's increasingly impressive and accomplished oeuvre.

Report this review (#108267)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclipse
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This is very far away from what RADIOHEAD would become. The most impressive thing is that they envolved pretty well to The Bends, though i still am not a fan of that particular one either. There are no highlights on this album, perhaps the famous "Creep" is a nice tune, but they are so near and so far away at the same time of creating masterpieces like "Fake Plastic Trees", "Nice Dream" or "Street Spirit". And as a final consideration, no prog-head will be even remotely interested on this one, since it is not that good even for pop standards.
Report this review (#108351)
Posted Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Grunge is a strong and agressive style of music, which progheads in general, I think, avoid at all coast. But Radiohead was inserted (unfortunately?) on this site, and we have to reply!

But Radiohead isn't a grunge band as Nirvana or Creed; this debut is just an experiment with his classic brit-pop style and a touch of grunge. If you want to know the progressive side of Radiohead, you better check out OKputer or The Bends, both absolute masterpieces. Even under an "Art Rock band" denomination, Radiohead at his peak isn't a 100% prog band (not even reaches the 50% of any prog essence), is rather a brit-pop/alternative rock band. On Pablo Honey, the band mixes his powerful melancholy with distorted and agressive riffs from his three-guitars attack. As a result, a regular album, finely elaborated, enjoyable for brit-pop lovers, boring and awful (and sometimes horrible) for prog lovers.

Highlights: Creep (of course), Blow out, Anyone can play guitar, You. Personally I also like the ballad Thinking About You.

Four stars. Three stars if you are a prog lover only; and two or one stars if pop, alt. rock and grunge definitively do not please your ears.

Report this review (#114444)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is definitively not interesting to any prog fan...

Because it's really far from being progressive... But that's not the reason I'm giving this album only 1 star. The collection of songs included here is not really exciting. With the exception of a pair of decent tracks, this album is a bit plain, and doesn't says very much... The Thom Yorke's voice was waiting to beeing really exploited, and the predominant guitars are not too colourful. The pop- rock vein of all the tracks are just repetitive... The experimentation and variety of later albums is missing here, because the true personality of the band is not here yet.

Sorry to all the Radiohead's fans out there for my low rating... I really enjoy this band's music, but this album is far from deserving being recommended to any prog listener!

Best songs: You, Creep (a classic, and maybe the best song of the album...), Stop Whispering (I love the chorus), Anyone Can Play Guitar (just funny), Lurgee (not bad)... The rest of the album is easily forgettable.

Conclusion: the only interest of this album is knowing the beginnings of this wonderful band... So the fans should listen to it. But if you are not in the Radiohead world, this is far for being essential... And this is definitely not the right place to start with Radiohead. I think "The Bends" or "OK Computer" are the perfect introduction for beginners.

My personal rating: ***

ProgArchives rating: **

Report this review (#151565)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars In 1993, Radiohead were gaining all sorts of attention, and expectations were high for their debut. Sadly, these expectations were not met in the slightest. Borrowing heavily from the grunge scene that had the world in its grasp, this band was touted as the British Nirvana by some. Well, after listening in, I can't say I understand what the fuss was all about. Thom Yorke and co. mixed the aggressive hardcore-influenced sound of the Seattle scene with the airy Britpop of their homeland. While interesting on paper, the combination does not prove very successful, and only a few tracks here are worth your time.

Creep, the band's first smash hit, is completely and utterly out of place, and for good reason. Never intended for the album, the song was a throwaway track Thom wrote years earlier. He made the mistake of playing it within earshot of an exec, and soon it was put on the record. Personally I like the song, but it isn't one of the band's best. Anyone Can Play Guitar is a funny piece but the joke wears off after a few listens. You is the best song here without question, not that it's saying much. The only song here that gives any indication of the band's future direction is Blow Out, and even that cannot compare.

In the end, this album serves only to show how much Radiohead have changed throughout their careers. It is nothing more than a time capsule piece or a blurb in a documentary someday about the band. Without "Creep," the band wouldn't have gotten its foot in the door, so this record served its purpose. Still, this is the last Radiohead album you wanna pick up.

Grade: D-

Report this review (#154678)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The debut album from Radiohead was released in 1993 and it made quite an impact. Radiohead and bands like Blur, Suede and Pulp was soon put into the category called Brit Pop/ rock and allthough I agree to some extent that Pablo Honey does have a similar sound to albums released by some of the other mentioned bands but it does have it´s own trademarks. Radiohead would later make music far removed from that particular sub-genre and fortunately so as Pablo Honey isn´t the best album in the whole world.

The music is very simply structured all the way through the album. There aren´t many surprises when it comes to the form and structure of the songs. The Vers/ Chorus formula isn´t challenged much on Pablo Honey. A typical song on this album will have a quit vers and a noisy rocking chorus. I think there are way too many fillers on this album, it just seems to be too long ( and it´s only 42:11). Creep was a big hit at the time and it´s easy to hear why with that hook. I never liked Creep though. A song like You is much more to my liking. I also enjoy Blow Out, but that´s about it. The rest of the songs are very forgettable.

The musicians play with conviction, but the things that are played doesn´t really need a very trained musician to be executed to perfection. Thom Yorke has a unique voice that needs to be mentioned even though he would develop it further on later releases. He has the skill to sound pathetic and depressed without sounding forced. This is him and he wears his emotions on the sleeve. This is something I don´t always enjoy, but if I´m in the right mood this is good.

The sound could have been better, but as I remember most debut albums from Brit pop/ rock bands sounded a bit raw and unpolished.

The conclusion is that Pablo Honey is a below average rock album and it really doesn´t have the slightest to do with prog rock. It´s not all bad though and I´ll rate it 2 stars.

Report this review (#164816)
Posted Monday, March 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I often think this album gets a bum-rap but the truth is, it's better than people give it credit for. Ok, it doesn't fit in the prog mold but it does contain great powerful guitar drenched rock songs with inspired melodies.

The opener 'You' is probably the most prog moment with its 12/8-11/8 time signature. There are certainly some beautiful moments to be found in 'Thinking About You' and 'I Can't'. There are wonderful pop melodies in 'Anyone Can Play Guitar' and 'Ripcord'....and of course there is 'Creep'. However, the best moment is saved until last with the melifluous lilt of 'Blow Out' which ultimately turns into a chaotic, er, Blow Out.

When I purchased this album upon release, I considered it would be a tough act to follow. Of course, this proved not to be the case. So I guess to appreciate this album, you many have to listen to it as if you've never heard of Radiohead before.

I recommend you obtain this album and give it a few listen before casting judgement because like with a lot of Radiohead material, it takes a while to get under your skin but when it does, you are sure paid back in spades.

Report this review (#169870)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I guess that all these low ratings are just normal on a prog site. Too grungy probably. Too rock. Too straight forward. Too hype. Too pop.

But even if all those "toos" are correct, this is a good album all the way through. Starting with the great "You". An excellent opener which paves the way for the next song...

This album is of course overshadowed by "Creep" of course. A so fu..ing special song. Some might be fed up with it, but I still have a lot of pleasure to listen to it. A rock anthem and an indelible mark on modern music giants like "Muse".

But to reduce "Pablo Picasso" to "Creep" is not fair. There are several great rock tracks like the punkish "How Do You". Seriously Pistols oriented. But I can understand that this one is not so popular on PA.But the band didn't ask for their inclusion here, so.

Their combination of solid rock and softer approach, is present in this debut. Their catchy pop, slightly rock oriented music is pleasant. Typical of those good bands emerging in the early nineties. I can't help: I just like "Stop Whispering".

One word about the closing section though. The enormous influence of one of the greatest bands of the eighties is deeply felt here. Too much ignored and (almost) forgotten. I'm talking about "Echo & The Bunnymen" (the same sort of influence is to be noticed on the closing track Blowout).

Their infectious and catchy pop style stroke again during "Anyone Can Play Guitar". Another post-punk type of song (hence the title.) in the "Generation X" style. Another highlight.

The killing guitar sounds are truly gorgeous and another good pop song like "Ripcord" is just an example of how the band can solidly rock you. And even if songs as "Vegetable" or "Prove Yourself" are not outstanding, they are still good rock songs.

Of prog music, there is nothing to speak about. But I won't decrease my rating for this. This album is available for review on PA and my rating is three stars (even seven out of ten if I could). A fine rock album. Probably not as innovative as their later releases but a very good start.

Report this review (#170795)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars First of all, I love Radiohead, but this album is nowhere close to prog. Now I really like the tracks You, Creep, and Stop Whispering, but these are all rock songs in a vein similar to R.E.M. I consider listening to this album to be enjoyable, but I only listen to it if I'm not in the mood to listen to Radiohead, as contradictory as that statement may sound. Still, the beginnings of Radiohead's sound exist on this album and provide Radiohead fans with an interesting insight into the band's history. Overall, though, I think that the description by the rating I'm giving this sums it up perfectly: Collectors/fans only. In all honesty, I would give this album 2.5 stars.
Report this review (#192114)
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Radiohead's opener is not prog, and shouldn't be listed on these pages. However, while the band has later developed into the most important prog band of modern times (and singer/lyricist Thom Yorke into a modern day John Lennon), they cannot hide their past.

Pablo Honey is a mediocre album in its genre - British grunge of early 90's - and sadly nothing more. Yet there are some gems, like the obvious hit single Creep, which is a promise of better things to come, as well as some other lesser known tunes, like Stop Whispering.

On Pablo Honey Radiohead are like a young contemporary composer finding his/her feet: most of the tracks sound pretty infantile, pretentious and know-nothing. And at the same time it is not bad listening at all. Quite the opposite: most of its tracks are nice and the band's attitude is okay. Yorke's highly personal voice fits well with the overall sound, as well as Jonny Greenwood's tiny solos.

After all, this album was the necessary stepping stone before their later greatness. And for that reason, totally forgivable. :)

Report this review (#195006)
Posted Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars One of the first albums that i heard from this band...and in that time was good..But On my present,and what i am searching For This is Really...Nothing A piece of music,easy,simple,and nothing to deal with prog music..we are in a prog-site..so what are we looking for?,influences?No,inspiration?from who?well..if we look this album without judging the prog-side is good!,it contains one of the most famous Songs in the world,-Creep-and its Good,nice,good vocals..but the rest of the album don't makes me Smile.So this is Grunge,punk parts,and a lot from that type of music.but in a certain way Radiohead with this album starts a new era.and a new wave of fans..

Cheers...........(-Jack-)

Report this review (#202412)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Radiohead's first release in 1993, 'Pablo Honey', is vastly underrated. There, I said it.

It isn't very deep at all. There's virtually nothing about it that is classifiable as prog. Except maybe for 'Blow Out'. But I think there is some promise there of the band that was to come.

If you take it simply as a post-grunge, early Britpop album, you'll enjoy it a lot more. Opener 'You' is a fine alt. rock song, and sounds like it inspired a generation of like-minded bands, such as Muse, for example. 'Creep' was of course a blessing and a curse for the band. It remains their best known song in the mainstream, but it nearly ruined their career. Everyone expected another Creep, and The Bends was something different altogether. Still, Creep is a perfectly decent song. Overplayed, but still good.

Tracks like 'How Do You?' and 'Anyone Can Play Guitar' sound like bratty punk-inflected college rock, and 'Stop Whispering' and 'Thinking About You' are solid pop songs. Coldplay probably took notes from these two latter tracks, actually.

Radiohead probably would have been a long-forgotten footnote in rock history if it wasn't for 'Creep' being included on their first album, though. It's the only track here that is truly essential to 'Head fans. Well, actually, I like 'You' a lot, as well.

Don't expect prog at all. It isn't challenging any musical conventions in the slightest. Remember, this was recorded in 93, when everyone was wearing torn denim jeans, flannelete shirts, and trying to sound like Kurt Cobain. The early 90s Seattle scene was about 'antimusic' and DIY philosophy, much like the earlier punk revolution in the 70s. Radiohead were born out of this scene, but boy, did they evolve into something special.

Give it a spin every once in a while for novelty value. Radiohead fans cringe at this disc. Britpoppers do quite like it, and wish the Head would return to their rock roots.

Hell, The Beatles sounded samey on their first few records before they started branching out...

Report this review (#239300)
Posted Monday, September 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The trick with this debut by Radiohead is how to approach it. Radiohead wasn't included on PA because of this release but because of some later releases that were far more progressive. This is also the reason why I will keep the review short.

Radiohead plays some straightforward Britpop on this album, no more and no less. It's just the second half of last song Blow Out that has some slight progressive elements. Second track Creep is by far the most famous song here but one I can't hear anymore after more than 100 listenings. This song is far from bearable to me. It gets on my nerves and works extremely boring by now to endure. So the weakest track by far as far as I'm concerned. The rest isn't that bad really and like I said, if you happen to like Britpop in the vein of Oasis you could easily buy this album. If you don't and look for something progressive, leave it. Two stars because of this.

Report this review (#269337)
Posted Wednesday, March 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Poor old Pablo Honey. Like Opeth's Orchid, I think PH is unfairly picked on simply because of the greatness of what came later, not because it's actually a bad record.

As everyone points out, this isn't progressive at all. It's an introspective, slightly sour-faced pop- rock record. But for my money it's quite a good one. Both the opener, You, and the closer, Blow Out, are a bit weak and shapeless but inbetween it's pretty much nothing but solid, fairly catchy little numbers.

Creep is THE hit single and the "ch-chunk" of the guitar before the chorus is still one of the greatest moments in pop song history. None of the other singles from the album had this impact, though I quite enjoy the widescreen build-up of Stop Whispering, the very U2-like song that started the U2 comparisons (which seem ludicrous now given Radiohead's later output) and Anyone Can Play Guitar... well yeah it's not that great either but nor is it rubbish, getting a bit of nice grungy guitar in there. A far better single choice than Anyone Can Play Guitar would've been the exciting and hook packed Ripcord, an overlooked belter.

The band also rampages on How Do You, still one of the rockingest things they've ever done, and goes completely the other way with Thinking About You, a bare, painfully intimate acoustic number. Yorke's lyrics here are a bit juvenile but they still resonate a little too closely for some of Radiohead's fanbase- I should know, I was one of them. I Can't is my other favorite from the album and might also have made a good single with its slow, relaxed but catchy and poignant chorus.

No they didn't sound like the future of music but nor is this the pile of poo I frequently hear it described as (sometimes by the band). It's certainly not essential listening for prog fans but it wasn't made as prog so it seems a bit silly to mark it down for not being prog. But if you want some alternative pop-rock, Pablo Honey does the job competently bar a few forgettable moments.

Report this review (#280549)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album isn't so much bad as it is largely unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. There are some aspects of it that give a good preview of what would come in later years, but at its core it's basically a generic 90's alternative album. If you grew up on 90's alternative, this might not seem like a bad thing, but that sure isn't something I would want to actively seek after. To me, and many others, this is definitely a case of a mediocre album that few would remember if it didn't come from a band that would later make a huge critical and commercial impact.

The album more or less gets off to a good start with the first two tracks. "You" seems a bit too saturated with rather pointless heaviness for my tastes (a big problem with much of the album), but I do like the shiny quiet guitar line that opens the song and pops up in bits here and there later, and the song does have some decent (if a little cheap) anthemic qualities to it. "Creep" ended up as a minor hit for the band, and even if I don't feel any real connection with the lyrics, it does have what I consider the album's most fascinating moment. Yup, my favorite part of the album is that bit before the chorus where the heavy guitar sound plays two quick notes in succession, like the song's being shot or something, then pauses, then plays those notes again right before going into the chorus. It doesn't make the song brilliant or anything, but it makes me want to listen to it again.

The rest of the album seems like one mildly bland generic song after another, with maybe one or two exceptions. The songs aren't much worse than the first two of the album, but the first two weren't so hot in the first place, so that's not a compliment. "Stop Whispering" lets up on the heaviness just enough to allow a decent dose of songwriting to shine through (Thom is REALLY going for a Bono-style delivery here, too), and "Prove Yourself" is a decent enough two minute song (however much of an irresponsible call for its listeners to kill themselves it might be), but the other songs don't do much for me. I admit to being intrigued as to the use of a guitar sound in "Anybody Can Play Guitar" that sounds uncannily like it's from the second side of David Bowie's Heroes, but that and the namedrop of Jim Morrison are the only moments in the song that hold my interest. As with seemingly most Radiohead fans, I just can't enjoy this one so much. I can put it on as background noise, and some of the tracks have aspects I enjoy, but I could never consider this as a lost gem or anything like that. For completists only.

Report this review (#281562)
Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
1 stars On this, the debut album from Radiohead, the band is not sure if wants to be grunge or britpop. So they try to be both. These guys formed in the late 1980s and named themselves after a Talking Heads song. There is almost nothing here that gives you a hint of what Radiohead will sound like in the future. On top of that, most of the songs are not very good to begin with. The big hit here of course being "Creep", a song the band would later be embarrased of. It's a shame that as late as Kid A/mnesiac, these guys were still known as "that band that do that Creep song".

"Creep" is actually a good song but it suffers from being overplayed. The only other song that is as good is the opening "You". If the rest of the album was as good as those two songs, then this would be something worth hearing. But as it is, it is not something that anyone other than a Radiohead diehard would want to hear. "Prove Yourself" is not too bad. The verses of "Anyone Can Play Guitar" are good, but the chorus is lame. I can't believe they released "Stop Whispering" as a single/video. What a pathetic attempt at a hit single. You will never see a blonder Thom Yorke than the one in the video for this song.

I remember that when this first came out, everybody loved "Creep" but thought they were trying to copy the American grunge bands. The Bends took many by surprise, and OK Computer even more so. This is only for Radiohead fans who wonder what their first album sounded like. Of no interest to anyone else. 1 star.

Report this review (#385344)
Posted Sunday, January 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's often sniffed at by those who are more taken with their later albums, but I always found Radiohead's Pablo Honey to be an intriguing debut album which successfully blends the American grunge style with early Britpop and incorporates into that mix a subtle touch here and there which proves that even at this early stage of their career, Radiohead were more inclined to experimentation than many of their contemporaries.

Little touches like the organ on Thinking About You or the angry, frustrated guitar line contrasting with the otherwise gentle and placid performances on Creep may be minor embellishments, but they show a band who understands how such a minor embellishment could completely transform a song. So on the whole I'm going to vote with my heart instead of my head and give this four stars.

Report this review (#609701)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Twas back in '06 that I stumbled across this site while wasting time browsing the web at work. I was tickled pink to find that there were millions of above-average-intelligence-endowed human beings scattered across the globe who still revere the bands and artists that I intently listened to in the 60s and70s as much as I do. It gave me an opportunity to express my adoration for Yes, Genesis, ELP, Jethro Tull, etc. with others who would readily understand and appreciate the attraction they hold for me to this day. It also opened my ears up a whole new world of ever-expanding progressive rock I didn't even know existed by exposing me to a myriad of groups and individuals that were proudly carrying the prog banner into the 21st century. One band that I'd been curious about was Radiohead. When their 3rd album was nominated for the Grammy's Album of the Year award I remember feeling a little embarrassed that I had absolutely no clue what they were about. When I saw that a host of respectable folks on P.A. considered them somewhat proggy and had penned favorable reviews about their work I sprang for a copy of "OK Computer" and slapped on the headphones.

Now I may be getting old but I'm no fogy. I like off-the-wall, discombobulating artistic endeavors as much as the next progger. I find Zappa's freak outs, King Crimson's eclectic excursions and Gentle Giant's strange concoctions (just to name a few purveyors of that ilk) delightful more often than not so something being labeled as unconventional will never keep me from approaching it with an open mind. Anywho, I must've listened to that record a dozen times just to make sure that I wasn't missing something vital but nothing changed my bottom line. As much as I wanted to like it, I hated it. I won't belabor the point but if you really want to know my opinion of it look up my brief, exasperated review. Whatever it was that drew other proggers in was repelling me like a spray of mace. I just didn't "get it" so I decided to live and let live and explore other prog fields for hidden gemstones (like what I found in Porcupine Tree and the Flower Kings). A year or so ago I was gifted most of Radiohead's catalog of music but those recordings just sat there unmolested until recently. Since the group is still around it occurred to me that maybe Radiohead and I just got off on the wrong foot and I should make an attempt to start our relationship over from scratch. After 7 years of ignoring them I decided to listen to their initial offerings with an unbiased mindset, starting with their debut, "Pablo Honey."

The opening song, "You," was a pleasant surprise. I was immediately intrigued by the 23/4 pattern (three measures of 6 and one of 5) and the edgy but full guitar tones. Thom Yorke's vocal style reminded me of Elvis Costello's so, being a fan of that man's early material, I dug what I was hearing. It's a good tune. "Creep" is next. I've always liked the self-deprecating honesty in the lyrical content and Yorke's impassioned delivery. Jonny Greenwood's brittle guitar sound betrays an underlying anger that has consistently distinguished this number as being extraordinary. Suddenly bringing a piano in at the end is genius. "How Do You" follows and it's a short-lived rocker that sports a punkish glam aura aka David Bowie from two decades earlier. An homage, perhaps? "Stop Whispering" is a highlight. I admire the unembellished production that surrounds it because it allows them to be exactly who they are. Thom's singing is on a par with Bono here while the song steadily gains intensity as it goes along. "Thinking About You" is another good one. Its stereo acoustic guitar attack is a nice change of pace and I detect a slight Tom Petty vibe running through it. It, too, is brief in duration but Yorke says all he needs to say and then closes the curtain without unnecessary ado.

On "Anyone Can Play Guitar" Nirvana's pungent grunge aroma is evident but filtered through a British sieve. Thom's enthusiastic sarcasm adds grit. "Ripcord" is next and it was at this juncture I started to grow weary of their predictability. I savvy that the distorted electric guitar motif is a sign of the times and that it puts a somewhat unique spin on their aural art but it gets to be too much too often. I can tell there's a progressive arrangement underneath the assorted noises but it's hard to decipher a purpose. "Vegetable" has another odd time signature. The verses are presented in 10/4 but once again Jonny's overly-aggressive guitar work makes it difficult for me to enjoy the tune's quirkiness. But then things get better. "Prove Yourself" owns a nostalgic folk rock hue that brings to mind some of the interesting experimentations that the Byrds were dabbling in during the 60s. Not quite but sorta. "I Can't" follows and I hate to keep bringing up other groups but on this cut either the Gin Blossoms influenced Radiohead or vice versa. I'm not complaining, though. I like straightforward, no-nonsense rock delivered with a dash of attitude and this song fits the bill. "Lurgee" is excellent. It's quite simple but it projects a slow-mounting atmospheric tension that pulls me right in as the poignant lyrics are aimed at the heart. They exit with "Blow Out," a tune with a shockingly subtle, semi-jazzy mood that entices. Their manipulation of the composition's dynamics makes this one of the most engaging songs on the album. The ascending "A Day in the Life" -like stacked guitar effect plants a true exclamation point on the finale.

Released on February 22, 1993, "Pablo Honey," aided greatly by the popularity of their dark single, "Creep," did pretty well for an unknown entity's first go 'round the block. While I have no doubt that it was their later, more unorthodox recordings that earned them the designation of being a crossover prog act, I found this album to be melodic yet brave at the same time. I have no idea what to expect on their sophomore effort but I'm happy to say that I'm glad I gave them another chance. This collection of tunes showed they had a respectable amount of potential. 3.1 stars.

Report this review (#1128645)
Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
2 stars After meeting in their high school years before they became the fab four of the 90s (Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway) spent most of the 80s playing together under the moniker On A Friday and for a brief moment in 1990 as Shindig. They eventually changed their name to the much cooler RADIOHEAD when EMI signed them after hearing their demos. They released one EP called "Drill" and then quickly put out their first album PABLO HONEY. This album is one of those cases where you couldn't guess in a million years where the band would go from here. Yes, it's true there are subtle clues to their evolutionary path but this album mostly consists of grungy alternative pop songs that are often trying to be both but usually being neither.

Personally I really love the first two tracks "You" and the single "Creep" which was a flop upon first release but slowly "creeped" its way up the charts putting RADIOHEAD on the music map, however every indication from this debut album is that this was a one hit wonder destined to be forgotten as quickly as they had hit the scene. After all, this was the beginning of the alternative rock and grunge frenzy that shook up the status quo in the music industry and putting bands like Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam on the top of the musical mountain.

I find after the first two tracks that the songs are rather boring and I had to suffer my way through this to listen to the entire album just to review this. It's amazing how much they evolved from PABLO HONEY to "The Bends." The first two tracks are worth the price of admission as long as that price isn't too high but otherwise I can't find much else worth hearing here on a regularly basis. Luckily the band would evolve far beyond this mediocrity and offer the world a new kind of space rock. For this release, I say meh.

Report this review (#1314538)
Posted Sunday, November 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars First things first: There is almost nothing prog about this album. The opener, "You", alternates three bars of 6/8 and one bar of 5/8. That's pretty much the only prog touch on the album; none of the songs even breaks the six-minute mark (granted, neither did any of the songs on The Bends). There also isn't much hint of the experimental juggernaut that Radiohead would later become. It's pretty much a straightforward grunge-meets-Britpop effort. This may be a somewhat uncommon mixture of styles, but it's certainly not a patch on the genre-breaking work Radiohead would do later with efforts like OK Computer and Kid A.

However, all that aside, it's a solid debut, and doesn't deserve the pasting a lot of reviewers give it. It suffers in comparison to the band's later efforts, so people have the inclination to label this album as being much worse than it actually is. Songs like the aforementioned "You", the closer "Blow Out", and the anthemic "Anyone Can Play Guitar", all three of which are probably as good as anything on The Bends, provide solid proof that the album is much more than a showcase for the band's early hit "Creep" (which is also a much better song than it's frequently given credit for being). The brief, furious "How Do You?", the reflective, almost R.E.M.-ish "Stop Whispering", and the almost heartbreaking "Lurgee" also stand out as strong tracks.

New listeners, particularly if they're looking for something progressive, certainly shouldn't start here (the most sensible recommendation is probably to start with The Bends and work forward, then come back here, but I started with Kid A when it was released and never looked back), but this release shouldn't be overlooked completely. There are plenty of wonderful songs here.

Report this review (#1561094)
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2016 | Review Permalink

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