It’s been some week in blogworld. I’m one of those who, due to pressures of time, put quite a few posts together well in advance so that I can do my best to offer up daily postings and then something totally unexpected and mind-blowing such as the death of David Bowie changes everything. Just want to say a big thank you to everyone for dropping by, for reading what was said in the two postings and also for reading the other things that were put up as I tried to keep some semblance of order.
I had a wee think about what sort of good thing musically might have, if I’d been a blogger back at the time, led me to drop everything and want to ask ‘did you see or hear that???’ There’s been plenty but most have been where I’ve found something new or a particular favourite have come up with something astounding. Amd then I thought I’d go with this…..
I don’t reckon I’m alone with my first exposure to Paranoid Android being when Radiohead appeared on the late-night BBC music programme Later, presented by Jools Holland, in May 1997. The person who would years later post the clip on YouTube said it was one of the greatest performances ever to grace the stage of that show. And they’re not wrong:
It was something totally unexpected. Yes, the band had released a cracking LP in The Bends a couple of years previously that had brought them to the attention of the wider public and also got them positive reviews from the rock meeja. But this was something else entirely…..
The single had in fact been released a few days before the TV performance and had been aired a fair bit within the various early-evening shows on Radio 1 and was already being described by some journalists/broadcasters as the Bohemian Rhapsody of the 90s. But to me that’s just a lazy description based on the fact that the song has different and distinct sections and at more than six minutes in length is not anything like your average single.
Paranoid Android is a strange, complex and twisted bit of music that really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.
Maybe its the fact that we’re all lulled into a false sense of security with its opening of acoustic guitars over Thom Yorke‘s high-pitched vocal. And for about three minutes we can sing along, tap our feet and move our head of work from side to side enjoying a song that is that is not all that indistinguishable from other admittedly top-quality indie pop/rock.
But then it gets all strange as Jonny Greenwood batters the shit out of his guitar before it suddenly comes not quite to a halt but to the pace of a real tear-jerking ballad except instead it sounds like a hymn at which point Thom Yorke comes back in with a pleading vocal that seems to challenge his God to take out his anger on him. Then, just when you thought that would be it…there’s about 45 seconds or so of a guitar solo and backing music that wouldn’t have been out of place on a heavy metal album from 15 years or so earlier….certainly something that air guitarists would get awfully excited about.
As I said, it shouldn’t work, but it does.
It reached #3 in the UK singles charts on its release and remains the biggest hit 45 Radiohead have ever enjoyed. There were two CD singles available to buy, and the b-sides are well worth a listen as they show different sides to the band, but they wont be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact some of you might find them downright irritating. But in a week when we celebrated the diversity of Mr Bowie’s musical output it seems appropriate to head into the weekend with these :-
mp3: Radiohead – Paranoid Android
mp3: Radiohead – Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)
mp3: Radiohead – Pearly
mp3: Radiohead – A Reminder
mp3: Radiohead – Melatonin