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Radiohead - Pablo Honey CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.52 | 376 ratings

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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.

James Lee | 2/5 |


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