A couple of weeks back, on a day recovering from the slight after effects of my second COVID vaccination, I decided to spend a few hours flicking through all sorts of music documentaries and shows that can be found via the TV, whether on channels or the likes of YouTube. I couldn’t really settle on one thing, finding myself hopping from video to video, unable to get the sort of show or performance that would get my mind initially a bit more focussed and ultimately allowing me to feel more relaxed.
And then I saw a link to Radiohead‘s performance at Glastonbury in 1997 which came just a couple of weeks after the release of OK Computer. I remembered seeing it live via the BBC coverage at the time, thinking that it had been one of the greatest things ever to hit the telly screen. I wondered, however, how it would come across in 2021 given that the technology has moved on so much in the intervening years, and I reckoned it might well have sounded a bit thin and maybe tinny. I was also intrigued as a few years ago, on the 20th Anniversary of the performance, Thom Yorke had told the BBC that he had almost walked off mid-set as there were sound problems, something that I couldn’t recall being the case.
Turns out that time had not diminished the performance, nor could I really pick up where the sound issues had caused consternation, apart from a couple of occasions when there were slightly longer than usual delays in the next song starting up.
In a show packed with spine-tingling moments, the playing of this, as the second song of the night, was a real highlight:-
mp3: Radiohead – My Iron Lung
The My Iron Lung EP, in September 1994, bridged the gap between the albums Pablo Honey (1993) and The Bends (1995), albeit the title track would appear on the latter. Here in the UK, it was released as a four-song EP on vinyl, with copies nowadays going for around £50 on the second hand market. Like most other folk, I ended up instead with the CDs, with two of them being released, with the lead track on both occasions accompanied by three b-sides. Meanwhile, in Australia, it was released as a CD with eight songs, with the additional track being an acoustic version of Creep.
Many fans and critics have said, quite rightly, that the quality of the songs on the EP, all of which were recorded during the preparation or indeed the sessions for The Bends, would have made for a very decent album on its own. Judge for yourself:-
mp3: Radiohead – The Trickster
mp3: Radiohead – Punchdrunk Lovesong Singalong
mp3: Radiohead – Lozenge Of Love
mp3: Radiohead – Lewis (Mistreated)
mp3: Radiohead – Permanent Daylight
mp3: Radiohead – You Never Wash After Yourself
It’s quite scary that none of these songs were deemed good enough to be kept back for inclusion on the subsequent album. The Trickster and Permanent Daylight in particular have long been personal favourites, albeit the latter does come across as a tribute to Sonic Youth.
Radiohead were almost chosen as the subject of the forthcoming Sunday series replacement for R.E.M., but in the end, and after a great deal of soul-searching, they were put to one side. For the time being anyway.
Only 72 hours now till the big reveal.
12 thoughts on “THIS COULD HAVE MUSTERED AS AN ALBUM”
I watched that performance live on the BBC too and was equally blown away – absolutely phenomenal and as you say, it’s lost none of the power over the years.
Probably my favourite band – though I’m not sure I agree that the MIL eps would have made a great album – some good songs but certainly not on the level of their albums proper.
Nice write up. I remember at the time I had a home made bootleg cassette a friend made me with all the Bends era B-Sides on it “Banana Co” it was called. It had all of these on. Trickster could have been a hit single in its own right. Made for an excel album. Oh and (pipe tooting time) Glastonbury 97. I saw that show live. Caked in mud. Spent the weekend on a double decker bus. The second stage sank
Very perceptive write up. I always think it is good to look back on our relationship with music as we grow up and how that affects us. I was born in the late 60’s and feel lucky that my early teenage life was new wave / new romantics/ ska and a whole bunch of music that still sounds great today. However I went to Uni in the late 80’s where it was more difficult to get into music for me. I remember in my late 20’s britpop type bands got me excited once again for the future of music but i honestly think nothing has topped listening to radiohead late 90’s in terms of the uniqueness and brilliance of the noises they were making. I’m not sure anyone in the last 20 years has topped this and your reference to the EP being better than most other music out there is spot on. ‘second rate’ radiohead in 1997 was better than most of the opposition. Thanks for posting!
How good does The Trickster still sound?
Great post, insightful comments.
As a fervent festival-hater, most of my memories of attending T in The Park on three occasions in the late 90s are nightmarish flashbacks of a lager-soaked warzone. The exception is Radiohead’s performance in 1996, which was utterly magnificent.
They backed away from that epic sound after OK Computer, probably wisely, but it was great while it lasted.
I didn’t know what to make of MIL when it came out. ‘Creep’ was a massive alt-rock radio hit in the States, but nothing else from the first LP got played, and the song didn’t sound like it anyway. Certainly I was not expecting The Bends, which to my ears is still Radiohead’s finest hour.
Must be a very impressive set of Sundays ahead if Radiohead is taking a back seat…
Having thought long and hard, I have got to say I am surprised that your choice of The Osmonds over Radiohead for the next series is going to shock a lot of people.
junks boots …….. Think it’s going to be Kylie ……
Ah it’s going to be the Bay City Rollers and you know it.
Anonymous stole my line!
Who would have a similar amount of singles over a long timeframe which would make for another interesting Sunday series? Being serious here, I would wager on Declan McManus.
I was lucky enough to be at glastonbury that year – and that radiohead performance remains the best thing i’ve ever seen there (I’ve been about 15 times) – perhaps the best gig i’ve ever seen