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RADIOHEAD

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Radiohead biography
With every new album, UK quintet Radiohead reaches ever further to expand their sound, shedding their initial classification as an alt.rock band to become one of the leaders in experimental, challenging modern music.

Radiohead's official introduction to the world was 1993's 'Pablo Honey', built of simple songs that were introspective and sometimes melancholic. Garnering massive success thanks to a huge hit single, Radiohead turned a cold shoulder to the mainstream and recorded 'The Bends', which, while still firmly in the modern-rock mold, didn't make concessions to the mainstream's expectations. Experimentation and arrangements began to blossom on this album, but only hinted at their next phase. 'OK Computer' was released in 1997 and took the world by storm, alienating some older fans while gaining a slew of new fans from all walks of musical life. This album turned the idea of the modern rock album on its head, utilizing a vast array of sounds, touching on everything from '70s progressive rock to the emerging techno/electronica movement, strengthened with a rather grandiose production job. It was an ambitious, adventurous work that will hold up decades from now. Despite spawning several hit singles, it was an immense chunk of diversity that showed Radiohead were going to be an unpredictable entity in the ensuing years.

To their credit, the band did not rest on their laurels as the mainstream's darling art rock band, pushing the envelope much further upon the release of 2000's 'Kid A'. An angular, sometimes difficult work, 'Kid A' was a perplexing shift in direction. It sometimes sounds like a band running riot in a musical equipment warehouse/museum, such is its wide array of tones and sonic dexterity. Songs become anti-songs, and you never know what's waiting around the corner. Capitalizing on this newfound freedom to go anywhere with their music, the band released 'Amnesiac' a year later, often looked at as the companion piece to 'Kid A'. 'Amnesiac' mirrored the approach of 'Kid A' while holding up strongly in its own right.

2003 brought the band's sixth studio album, 'Hail To The Thief', a 14-song monster that seemed to be the culmination of everything that came before it, with a firm eye toward a number of new realms. With a seemingly limitless arsenal of ideas and the electronic toys to make those ideas become reality, the future sound of Radiohead is an open field for them to play upon, to the delight of their diverse group of...
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Kid A (2-10Kid A (2-10" LPs) [Vinyl]
Limited Edition
Parlophone 2008
Vinyl$20.68
$20.99 (used)
In Rainbows [Vinyl]In Rainbows [Vinyl]
Ato Records 2008
Vinyl$13.88
$17.30 (used)
OK ComputerOK Computer
Parlophone 1997
Audio CD$3.99
$0.01 (used)
The Bends [Vinyl]The Bends [Vinyl]
Limited Edition
Parlophone 2008
Vinyl$13.00
$15.74 (used)
The King of LimbsThe King of Limbs
TBD Records 2011
Audio CD$6.68
$2.64 (used)
Amnesiac (2-10Amnesiac (2-10" LPs) [Vinyl]
Limited Edition
Parlophone 2008
Vinyl$20.08
$19.95 (used)
Best of RadioheadBest of Radiohead
Parlophone 2008
Audio CD$10.22
$7.99 (used)
Hail To The ThiefHail To The Thief
Parlophone 2003
Audio CD$4.17
$0.01 (used)
Pablo HoneyPablo Honey
Parlophone 1993
Audio CD$4.45
$0.01 (used)
I Might Be Wrong: Live RecordingsI Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings
Parlophone 2001
Audio CD$3.08
$0.01 (used)
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Radiohead Hail To The Thief Special Edition VG Parlophone (EU) 2003 USD $5.47 Buy It Now 16h 13m
LP amnesiac ~ USD $36.75
LP ok computer ~ USD $28.80
LP the bends ~ USD $20.83


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RADIOHEAD shows & tickets


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RADIOHEAD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RADIOHEAD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.49 | 257 ratings
Pablo Honey
1993
3.82 | 404 ratings
The Bends
1995
4.02 | 712 ratings
OK Computer
1997
3.93 | 553 ratings
Kid A
2000
3.61 | 315 ratings
Amnesiac
2001
3.42 | 321 ratings
Hail To The Thief
2003
3.78 | 414 ratings
In Rainbows
2007
3.34 | 238 ratings
The King Of Limbs
2011

RADIOHEAD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.47 | 64 ratings
I Might Be Wrong
2001

RADIOHEAD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.02 | 25 ratings
7 Television Commercials
1998
2.68 | 16 ratings
The Astoria London Live
2005
3.14 | 16 ratings
The Best Of
2008
4.03 | 13 ratings
The Kings Of Limbs - Live From The Basement
2012

RADIOHEAD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 26 ratings
Radiohead Box Set
2007
3.22 | 17 ratings
The Best Of
2008
2.50 | 8 ratings
TKOL RMX 1234567
2011

RADIOHEAD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.42 | 8 ratings
Drill
1992
3.33 | 44 ratings
My Iron Lung
1994
2.35 | 13 ratings
Itch
1994
2.84 | 13 ratings
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
1996
3.77 | 13 ratings
No Surprises / Running From Demons
1997
3.95 | 20 ratings
Paranoid Android
1997
3.75 | 37 ratings
Airbag/How Am I Driving?
1998
2.28 | 18 ratings
Pyramid Song
2001
2.77 | 15 ratings
There There
2003
2.31 | 10 ratings
Go To Sleep
2003
2.42 | 21 ratings
Com Lag: 2plus2isfive
2004
3.78 | 9 ratings
Reckoner
2008
3.57 | 7 ratings
Bodysnatchers / House Of Cards
2008
3.80 | 10 ratings
Nude
2008
3.69 | 13 ratings
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
2008
2.79 | 23 ratings
These Are My Twisted Words
2009
2.11 | 16 ratings
Harry Patch (In Memory Of)
2009
3.45 | 20 ratings
Supercollider / The Butcher
2011
3.52 | 12 ratings
The Daily Mail / Staircase
2011

RADIOHEAD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Daily Mail / Staircase by RADIOHEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.52 | 12 ratings

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The Daily Mail / Staircase
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

3 stars Here are two songs that Radiohead was working on during "The King of Limbs" studio sessions but they were both in the demo stage when the album was finished. I think they would have worked to strengthen that album if they would have held off releasing this album until these songs were finished. "The King of Limbs" was a short enough album so there was plenty of room for 2 more great songs like these. These tracks are only available on this single or on the live video "The King of Limbs: Live from the Basement". Too bad these tracks will not be considered part of the regular repertoire put out by Radiohead because they are both very good songs. "The Daily Mail" starts out as a simple and beautiful voice/piano but builds up as it goes on and even adds in a brass section. It is more of a driving, mid-tempo piece that you wish was even longer. "Staircase" is more of an up tempo song with the full band playing throughout. It is also a nice traditional style track. There really isn't any experimentation involved and they are not heavy electronic tracks like most of the tracks on "The King of Limbs" which might be why it was decided to leave them off. I think it would have added to the album myself especially if the other single (Supercollider) were added also. These tracks would have rounded the album out nicely. As it is, these songs are bound to be forgotten because of they are not so readily available. Since there are only 2 songs here, the entire listening experience only leaves you wanting more. As individual songs, they are at least 4 star songs, but as a collective listening experience, I can only rate this at 3 stars because it just isn't long enough.

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 Com Lag: 2plus2isfive by RADIOHEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
2.42 | 21 ratings

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Com Lag: 2plus2isfive
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

2 stars This was originally released in Japan and Australia and then subsequently released in the UK and US a few months later. It mostly contains some interesting remixes, alternate versions and B-Sides recorded to support the singles from "Hail to the Chief" that were not available elsewhere before this. The live version of 2 + 2 = 5 is an amazing version and opens the EP with a lot of promise. Following this is a strange remix done by Christian Vogel of the song Myxomatosis. This is very electronic sounding and the vocals by Thom Yorke are made to sound very indifferent. Not bad actually, I find it interesting to hear how songs can be broken down and switched around to sound different, but this gives the song a more computerized feel, which I guess is about what you'd expect. The 3rd track is the Los Angeles version of "I Will". This is a very good version of the song that features the full band, where the album version was more stripped down. I think it was worth adding to this little collection of oddities, but it sounds strange coming in after the previous remix going from electronic music to traditional rock almost suddenly. Next up is a great song used as a B-side that would have been great on the album called "Paperbag Writer" and the next track is another great B-side called "I Am a Wicked Child".

Track 6 is another electronic track called "I am Citizen Insane" and it really doesn't do much for me. Next up is another remix this time of "Scatterbrain" done by Four Tet. Again we get an electronic vibe reminiscent of "Amnesia" but there are some interesting sound effects here. On the original Japanese version, there was some very annoying static noise that kept appearing on the track and these CDs were recalled, so if you have one, it's worth some money. You may have heard that static and thought it was part of the track, but it's a glitch. Track 8 is another great B-side returning back to the traditional rock sound and track 9 is a different version of the track "Fog" which was a B-side for "Knives Out" however this time it is done live and the track is stripped down to just Thom singing and playing piano. This is a beautiful version of this song. Last up is another spooky sounding electronic song called "Where Bluebirds Fly", another B-side. I don't think this has been remixed from the original b-side, but it sounds like something that could have been from "Amnesia".

The electronic tracks aren't too bad and are quite experimental, but don't seem to offer the depth and beauty of the organic tracks. The vocals on the electronic tracks also sound listless. This is not a bad EP, but other than the first track, it stays rather subdued throughout, which is not always a bad thing either. Anyway, even though I think it's a good EP, I believe the people that would be mostly interested in this are the collectors and the fans, thus I'm giving this one 2 stars. Interesting, but really nothing to get terribly excited about.

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 Pablo Honey by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.49 | 257 ratings

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Pablo Honey
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Kid A by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.93 | 553 ratings

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Kid A
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars To say I got off on the wrong foot with Radiohead is an understatement. When I discovered this web site back in 2006 I noticed that the band was considered to be in the progressive camp so I figured it was high time I gave them a listen. I'd heard of them, of course, but I'd never gone out of my way to lend an ear to their music because for all I knew they were a bunch of grunge-inspired punks trying to emulate Kurt Cobain like hundreds of others did in the 90s. Some of the prog reviewers I respected had good things to say about them, though, so I ordered the heralded "OK Computer" CD and popped it into the player. I couldn't stand it and still can't. Way too loose and un-cohesive. That experience put me off them for years until I unintentionally came into possession of their other offerings and I decided to give them another chance to impress me. I was delighted to find that both "Pablo Honey" and "The Bends" were not only listenable but quite enjoyable. What intrigued me most was the fact that Radiohead sounded different on every album, a rarity in today's music scene. But the best of their recordings I've come across so far is their fourth release, "Kid A." It's so unlike their other discs it could be another band's work altogether and I'm all about variety and risk taking in my prog preferences.

They open with the brilliant "Everything in its Right Place" that sports an unexpectedly mellow atmosphere that caught me off guard. The song feels like it's building up to some kind of explosive peak but it never climaxes and, in a strange way, I find that wickedly cool. "Kid A" is next and by now I realized that this album was turning out to be much more electronic oriented than what I'd heard coming from the group before. They were definitely burning some popular bridges this time around and exploring fresh avenues of expression. What Thom Yorke does with his voice on this cut is inventive and cutting edge. "The National Anthem" follows and it has a stronger bass and drum presence that raises the energy quotient substantially. It's very psychedelic in an early Pink Floyd motif but it's the horn melee that's the biggest and most pleasant surprise in the piece. Reminds me of what made King Crimson's underrated "Lizard" LP such a fun trip. A highlight track is "How to Disappear Completely." A lightly-strummed acoustic guitar and a wandering bass line set up the tune's melancholy mood but it's no downer. The band erects a beautiful aura around Thom's emotional vocal delivery without allowing the whole thing to become sappy. Kudos to Jonny Greenwood for his excellent orchestral score. It's delicious. I also savored the instrumental, "Treefingers." Its deep, encompassing soundscape is liquid and mesmerizing.

On "Optimistic" they really go off the reservation, especially in their approach to establishing the unusual rhythmic foundation and the subtle guitar tones they incorporate. Overall the compositional structure of the song is downright fascinating. "In Limbo" projects a stringy, fibrous texture that swirls around Yorke's unconventional melody. What I like most is how the tune dissolves into a thick soup of chaos in the end. To hell with finesse. "Idioteque" is the runt of the litter. All along I suspected they'd venture into Techno territory as they do here but I can't say I'm all that inspired with what their excursion yielded. For once they were too predictable. "Morning Bell" is a step up. Its proggier 5/4 time signature grabbed my attention immediately and I appreciate their taking a jazzier path at this juncture. Glad to hear they ain't skeered to bring foreign elements into the proceedings, too. They end on a very classy note with "Motion Picture Soundtrack." Pump organs are the nazz so I was drawn into this song's intro without hesitation. The track eventually evolves into a lush, purposely-overproduced extravaganza that I consider an extraordinarily courageous experiment that succeeded on every level. "Genchildren" is a short but not out of place aural epilogue that fits in perfectly.

I now understand why Radiohead is so revered in the music world. It's not often that one comes across a well-known group this bold and willing to depart from what their fans are anticipating they will produce next. I'd say they're not comfortable to stay in their comfort zone but, after hearing four of their CDs, I don't think they ever had one to begin with. "Kid A" debuted at the number one spot on both the US and UK album charts when it was released on October 2, 2000 and to date it has sold over four million units. It's nice to know that an entity so brave can be so widely accepted by the public. 4.1 stars.

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 Supercollider / The Butcher by RADIOHEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
3.45 | 20 ratings

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Supercollider / The Butcher
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

3 stars These two songs were written and partially recorded at the same time as the King of Limbs album, however, Radiohead said that they couldn't get them to work with the rest of the album, so they were released as a single. I think they would have been a nice addition, even as additional tracks, but this is not the case. They work well as standalone songs also, but just listening to the two of them alone only makes you want to hear more, they are just not complete by themselves. But, whatever, at least we have them. They are both very electronic sounding, not as experimental as the electronic sound on the "Amnesiac" album. They are both more accessible, so if nothing else, they serve as a good taste, or an appetizer to one of their electronic based albums like "Kid A", "Amnesiac", "Hail to the Thief" or even "King of Limbs". Since it's so short, and there is nothing that stands out as innovative about them, I would have to rate this single as Good, but non-essential. 3 stars.

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 The Bends by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.82 | 404 ratings

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The Bends
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The decade of the 90s was one of slow recovery where progressive music was trying to find some kind of solid footing in the "biz" again. Considering what the MTV virus (the scourge that ran rampant through the 80s) did to it it's no wonder. Prog was like a star quarterback who'd suffered a severe blow to the head attempting to get his bearings once more in order to simply complete a pass in the flat. I myself considered our kind of music dead as King Tut. I spent most of my time collecting remastered CDs of giants like Yes, Genesis, ELP and Jethro Tull instead of exploring for any signs of life. (PA wasn't around to assist.) Since my kiddos were turning into teenagers at the time I was more concerned about what Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse, Slipknot and the like were doing to their innocent souls. To an extent I tolerated the stuff they were getting into (In the 60s my parents worried about what Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa were doing to my little but absorbent brain, as well) but I monitored how those acts' antics might be influencing their behavior and moral compasses nonetheless. I just didn't trust those guys. What I'm attempting to communicate is that I didn't need to pay too much attention to groups like Radiohead who appeared tame as newborn kittens in comparison. In fact, other than their indomitable "Creep" single, I didn't start listening to their music until a few years ago. I reviewed their debut album back in February (not a bad record at all) and finally gave "The Bends" several spins to see where their aural art went after their initial success ran its course.

They start with "Planet Telex." Following a cosmic intro a strong groove develops under a pulsating, tremolo-enhanced guitar. A great mixture of distortion and clarity makes this song alluring while remaining compositionally cohesive and comprehensive from top to bottom. It's a cool tune. The title cut is next and I'm surprised to hear a live "in concert" rendition of a new song on a sophomore album. It has a noticeable brittle grunge quality that's a little unnerving to my senses and too derivative of what Nirvana had been producing earlier in the decade. "High and Dry" is another story altogether. A much quieter tune, it's very welcome at this juncture. It has an intimate atmosphere that displays a different, more mature side of the band. "Fake Plastic Trees" is the high water mark, though. It's a somber ballad that exudes a palpable aroma of melancholy without becoming droll or morose. Thom Yorke's vocal is soft but quite expressive and the traditional organ is a nice touch. "Bones" possesses a straightforward rock beat that drives the number efficiently. However, I find the repetitive chord progression a bit unimaginative. "Nice Dream" is a return to the acoustic guitar-based approach that I've grown to prefer from these boys. I like the fluid feel of the track and the contrasting urgency as portrayed by Jonny Greenwood's electric guitar on the short bridge segment.

"Just" is one of those songs that's almost impossible to categorize. It does exemplify how different Radiohead was from so many other entities competing with them for airtime and exposure in the mid-90s. It's a clever and intriguing congealing of contemporary moods and defiant, punkish attitudes. "My Iron Lung" is interesting, too. Their melding of a wide variety of guitar textures adds an aura of mystery to this cut in that you never know when they're going to explode and descend into a noisy, angst-riddled movement. Keeps you on the edge of your recliner. "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was" is a highlight. It's another sad number but it's augmented by a cavernous soundscape that wraps Thom's voice in a soft cloud that hovers over the track. "Black Star" features a fade-in that culminates in a wall of hard-strummed, chiming chords before settling into a somewhat predictable verse/chorus pattern. "Sulk" is better. Its 6/4 time signature provides a decent change of pace in the overall evolution of the album as it plays through. (Unfortunately that's becoming a lost art.) Yorke's emotional singing adds passion and Jonny's stringent guitar work gives it sharp and threatening dynamics. They also wisely leave you wanting more with "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." I sincerely appreciate the brutal honesty in the songwriting and the un-gimmicky presentation of the final product. It's well-structured and intense without going overboard.

Released in March of 1995, "The Bends" established that Radiohead was here to stay, not some flash in the pan. It really went over big in the UK, reaching #4, while in the US it peaked at a modest #88 on the charts. While it didn't spawn any huge hits on the scale of what "Creep" was years earlier, the album was incredibly influential and played a major role in resuscitating progressive rock and making the genre viable once more. I'm a huge fan of Porcupine Tree and I can definitely hear many of the musical strains I found in "The Bends" surfacing in Wilson's records like "Signify" and especially in "Stupid Dream." I'm getting a better bead on why so many revere this group but I'm still not sold on the one that came after this one. With "The Bends" Radiohead had adopted Nirvana's raucous mien and, while they didn't tone it down all that much, they did take it in a more progressive direction and for that all proggers should be thankful. 3.8 stars.

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 Drill by RADIOHEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
2.42 | 8 ratings

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Drill
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

3 stars This is the first commercial release for the band under the name of Radiohead and it contains demo versions 4 songs in an EP format. Yes it is short, but I can't help to find it quite satisfying, even considering that the songs are demo versions. Three of these songs would end up being re-recorded and released on the album Pablo Honey. "Stupid Car" is the one song not included on their first full album. If you are familiar with the other songs on here, and if you are a fan of the band, you will want to check this release out to hear how these songs all started out, especially "Something About You" which ends up being a very fast song on this EP, but I find it has it's own charm and should not be ignored. In fact, I don't think any of these versions should be ignored, especially the song that isn't on "Pablo Honey". "Stupid Car" is a beautiful and highly emotional ballad and demonstrates Thom Yorke's amazing vocal talent and effectively exhibits the dynamic use of his voice.

As I said before, this is Radiohead's first commercial release, but for those listeners who can't get enough, who want to explore more "Pre-Radiohead" tracks, search for tracks by "On A Friday" (there are at least 4 demos out there and most of them are songs you haven't heard) and "Manic Hedgehog" (at least one short demo). These are names Radiohead used before finally settling on the one that made them popular. There are some duds, but most of them are quite good and many will surprise you ("Is that really Radiohead?"). Some will give insight into what Radiohead would become even in later years.

Is this EP worth my time and trouble? It depends on how much of a Radiohead fan you are. To me, these songs are gems and the EP is way too short, yet the songs are still great. To me it's definitely worth getting to know these songs. Just as a warning though, there is no prog rock on this EP, only straightforward rockers, so I have to settle for 3 stars here.

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 Pablo Honey by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 1993
2.49 | 257 ratings

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Pablo Honey
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by 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.

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 The Bends by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.82 | 404 ratings

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The Bends
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by geneyesontle

4 stars A non-prog masterpiece with very well written songs, this is Radiohead's best step. They became the imaginative rock band we will all remember for, and this album opened many doors for many alternative rock bands. Not only this album is full of emotion (prog bands, take notes), but it is very consistent (except for the three minute R.E.M-ish Bones). From the anthemic (The Bends, Fake Plastic Trees, Black Star, Fade Out), to the heavier (Just, My Iron Lung, Planet Telex) and the softer (High And Dry, Nice Dream, Bullet Proof, Sulk), they were better than any rock band around because of their innovative thoughts. So if you want to expand your horizons and you listened to other Radiohead albums, choose this one.

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 Kid A by RADIOHEAD album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.93 | 553 ratings

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Kid A
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by Zargasheth

4 stars

This was actually the first album by Radiohead that I heard, and I came to it by a rather circuitous route--the only reason I heard it in the first place was because of the Punch Brothers' cover of the title track. But it turned out to be a worthwhile experience. This album is a peculiar and overall unique collection of post-rocky, poppish tracks with a gloomy, eerie atmosphere and an emphasis on bizarre experimentation. The end result is impressive and, at points, terrifying. The only outstanding flaw that could be ascribed to it is an occasional lack of energy. Even the more active songs that should be driving the album seem lifeless, and just as strange as the slower ones. The one exception is "Optimistic", one of the album's standouts for this very reason.

The opener, "Everything in Its Right Place", is another highlight. Like many of the tracks on the album, it contains very few instruments, consisting of only a clean chord progression with a barely noticeable bass pulse and Thom Yorke's voice. But the sound on which the chords are played, shifting from a muted electric-piano-like tone to a buzz in a seamlessly fluid way, is perfectly chosen. The chords themselves also are effective--almost triumphant, in a way. The piece is also peppered with electronically modified clips of the album's title and other incomprehensible phrases, while Yorke sings regularly on top.

Following this is the title track, which sounds quite similar in some ways, but the smoothly shifting chords have been replaced with plucking, bell-like tones, and supplemented with drums. Yorke's voice is also heavily modified in this piece. By becoming even more minimal, this piece ramps up the eeriness of the previous one, but it also doesn't hold my interest as easily.

After this, the band apparently decided to compensate for the sparing arrangements with "The National Anthem". A menacing, heavy bassline is soon covered up by a wailing chorus of brass instruments, which end up filling out the rest of the song. Small pieces of the resulting free-jazz meltdown are interesting, but the whole thing stretches on too long to sustain my attention, and it loses the drive that it tries to achieve at the beginning.

The album calms down again after this with "How To Disappear Completely", which is a pretty ballad on acoustic guitar which gradually gets overtaken by other ambient synth noises, string arrangements and a repetitive bassline. The melody is quite simple, but more than any other track on the disc, this one has emotional impact; it very clearly communicates a sense of melancholy. The ending, in which the strings suddenly spiral out of tune, is very effective.

After this comes an interlude in the form of "Treefingers". This track is a very slow, instrumental, and completely ambient piece, with no melody, but rather subtle shifts between bell-like tones. This gets boring very quickly for me, and while it would be ideal in the position of background music, it falls somewhat flat on its own.

Fortunately, after everything grinds to a halt with "Treefingers", the album picks up speed again with "Optimistic". It's one of the most guitar-dominated pieces on the disc, but it still keeps a droning feel throughout. The chorus breaks out of the drone with an ascending guitar pattern backed by a perfect chord progression, and gradually other sounds begin to come in over the drone and leave. What really makes this song, however, is the chord progressions--while this contains much less sonic experimentation than the rest of the album, the sound is much richer and fuller overall.

"Optimistic" suddenly turns into the totally different "In Limbo", which is almost dreamlike--it feels like two different songs being played at the same time, as the guitar and keyboard don't entirely match up. As a result, the song ends up feeling a bit cluttered, although there are times when it rises out of the chaos with a guitar line, which helps quite a bit. After a while, I also get used to the whole mishmash.

The next track, "Idioteque", is a strange piece of almost dance-like music, with electronic beats and samples from a couple of other electronic pieces, woven together in an excellent way, so that Radiohead makes it their own. The various layers involved sink out and move back in unpredictably, and the melodies added on to the samples are also good.

"Morning Bell" has little besides an electric piano line and an unusual drumbeat, both in 10/8, playing another effective melody that alternates between the conventionally gloomy mood of the album and a more upbeat style, without losing its fluidity. This piece has the droning feeling that accompanies most of the record, but it occasionally falls away from its central note in a triumphant way, accompanied by the unnerving lyric "cut the kids in half".

The album's closer, "Motion Picture Soundtrack", is a slow, ambling progression powered by an organ lead, and eventually peppered with ethereal harp glissandos and voices underneath Thom Yorke's somewhat less ethereal one. This turns out to be one of the scariest tracks on the album, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it is extremely minimal--the glissandos just seem very wrong.

But wait! Just as you're wondering whether you're going to get any sleep that night, one last hidden track comes in, consisting just of a single swell that sounds like the combination of an orchestra tuning up and a choir of angels descending. It's an amazing sound, and a fittingly unnerving actual ending to a highly unnerving album.

This is overall a very good album, and it does best when it's trying to either be atmospheric or creepy (or ideally, both--see "Motion Picture Soundtrack") Thom Yorke's voice isn't really the most pleasant to listen to, and as mentioned above the drive is sometimes lacking, but these are minor quibbles about a mysterious and sometimes disturbing album, that manages to craft amazing ambient soundscapes with usually very minimal instrumentation. Highlights include "Everything In Its Right Place", "How To Disappear Completely", and "Optimistic".

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