On Sunday 18 June 2023, I turn 60 years of age.

On that day, I’ll reveal what I’ve decided is my favourite album of all time.  It probably won’t be too big a surprise.  Between now and then, I’m going to have an almost daily rundown of my 60 favourite albums as compiled at the end of February 2023.  I reckon that if the list had been compiled a month or so previously, there may have been a few variations.

In fact, I know it would have been different, as all sorts of factors and distractions played their part as I worked tirelessly to get things down to a final 60.

There were rules set in advance, There have to be, otherwise anarchy would prevail.

No singer or band would be allowed more than one entry. But, in saying that, an individual may appear on more than one occasion.  I’m not saying anyone actually does, but the longlist saw Arab Strap, Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton all came into consideration, as did Edwyn Collins/Orange Juice, Roddy Frame/Aztec Camera and Bjork/Sugarcubes to offer a few illustrations.

All of the albums had to have been bought at or around the time of their original release, either on vinyl or CD, which meant any record I belatedly discovered and fell heavily for more than a couple of years after the event was ruled out prior to any longlist.

I had intended not to include any compilation/best of efforts, but in the end there were some that just were too good and played far too often not to be included.

The initial long list had 198 releases for consideration.  The first cull took this down to a more manageable 96.   Some of those who missed out at that stage included some that I thought had actually stood a great chance of making the Top 60 – The Auteurs, British Sea Power, The Cure, David Bowie, Everything But The Girl, Franz Ferdinand, Gorillaz, Happy Mondays, Iggy Pop, Joe Jackson, Kirsty MacColl, Leonard Cohen, M.I.A., Neil Young, The Organ, PJ Harvey, Roxy Music, The Specials, Talking Heads, The Vaselines. Wire and Yazoo is almost an A-Z set of omissions on their own (but don’t automatically think any singer or bands with Q, U, X or Z are shoo-ins!).

There will be one album per day on Mondays – Fridays, with the final two being on the weekend of 17/18 June.   Don’t worry…..there will be all sorts of additional postings appearing over the period in question, such as ICAs, Dirk’s regular contributions, and the look back at 1983, as well as anything else that might come in via guest contributions, or I feel I want to say. Indeed, the next ICA is scheduled for tomorrow, later on in the day after the #60 in the rundown is revealed.

In the meantime, here’s something from one of the albums that made the initial cut down to 96 but didn’t make the Top 60.  I’m not saying it was #61 as I stopped when I got to #60, but let’s just say it would have come in somewhere between 61 and 96.

mp3: The Bends – Radiohead

The title track from the 1995 album, the second in what has proven to be a long and highly successful career for Radiohead.  It’s the album which changed everything for the band.  No longer would they be in any danger of being labelled one-hit wonders.  It did lead to a lot of poor imitation angst-ridden alt.rock acts in the UK in the immediate years, which is perhaps Radiohead, after the even bigger success of OK Computer (1997), were always striving to do something different.

A few years ago, The Bends would easily have made it quite high up into any albums listing I might have happened to pull together, but it’s placing outside the Top 60 in 2023 reflects that I am listening to them a lot less than I used to, and unlike other bands who will feature over the coming weeks, they do not have the same sort of emotional pull.



September/October 1992. The promo poster at the top of this posting shows the extent of the UK tour undertaken by Radiohead, as part of the promotional activity to support the release of Creep.  You’ll note that they were supporting The Frank and Walters, an indie-pop band from Cork, Ireland who, on the surface at least, didn’t take themselves too seriously.

It’s a period when dance/house music was all the rage and when guitar-music was again largely out of fashion, unless your band came from America.  There were exceptions, with the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Ride, PJ Harvey and Teenage Fanclub all on the bill at the Reading festival the previous month (The Wonder Stuff, Public Enemy and Nirvana had been the respective headliners on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

I was at the Frank and Walters shows in both Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1992.  I recall enjoying the support act, but not being entirely convinced they had quite enough about them to ensure some fame and fortune. Maybe the fact that their hard-edged guitars, use of profanity and downright moodiness being so out of sync with all almost that was going on among UK musicians at the time that ensured it would be a total flop. I was in my very late 20s, and it really was still all about going out, with either my new partner or with a group of friends, having a good time before getting home safely with a smile on your face. My days of angst-ridden music were firmly in the rearview mirror, so that’s my excuse for not going out and picking up a copy of Creep.

But I wasn’t alone.  Very few folk bought it. It seems around 6,000 copies, mostly on CD, were shifted in September 1992. Those who sought out the 12″ vinyl, can now get £200 on the second-hand market if they were now inclined to sell. The follow-ups, Anyone Can Play Guitar and Pop Is Dead, each spent two weeks in the Top 75, albeit the former sold enough copies in the first week of release in February 1993, to enter at #32.

By the middle of 1993, Creep had become an underground hit in the USA, thanks to MTV and a number of alt-rock/student radio stations putting it on heavy rotation.  It even got to the stage where Radiohead performed it on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the main talk show to be broadcast across the country by NBC.

In September 1993, EMI reissued Creep in the UK. It went to #7 and provided Radiohead with the first step to megastardom.  The band hadn’t been terribly keen to have the single reissued, feeling that it totally overshadowed anything else they had written or released to this point.  I actually saw for myself what they meant as on 1 December 1993, I caught them as the support for James at Glasgow Barrowlands, a gig where their performance, to my ears, blew away the headliners, but which was met with huge indifference until they performed Creep. But as soon as they got onto the next song, the audience’s attention had again drifted….this was James at the beginning of their stadium rock era and Radiohead’s more artful and less accessible music wasn’t what most folk wanted to hear.

It’s really hard to get my head around the fact that next year will mark the 30th anniversary of those shows supporting The Frank & Walters.  As I said, I’d love to be able to claim that I latched on immediately, but I’d be lying.  It was that Barrowlands performance just over a year on that made me acknowledge that Radiohead were, as the song goes, so fucking special.

mp3: Radiohead – Creep

Here’s the other songs from the 1992 release:-

mp3: Radiohead – Lurgee
mp3: Radiohead – Inside My Head
mp3: Radiohead – Million Dollar Question

Fun Fact.

Some of you night know this, but I wasn’t aware until doing a wee bit of research for this post.

Creep had quickly become a song hated by Radiohead, but there was an acceptance that it had to be played live at every show in order to keep things sweet with the label bosses and their fanbase.  The band then wrote My Iron Lung, purposely about their hatred of Creep.

The next time I went to see Radiohead was March 1995 at the Garage in Glasgow, on their own headlining tour to promote the release of The Bends. I was sure, despite the claims that they hated the song by then, that Creep was played that night.  A check of the set list indicates that it was…..followed immediately by My Iron Lung.  It must have designed that way to provide a sort of therapy for everyone involved.



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.


45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 31)


15 – No Surprises – Radiohead (1997, Parlophone Records)

Released as a single in January 1998 (Reached number 4)

In an ICA that Tim Badger wrote for this very fine blog, on Teenage Fanclub, he told a tale about how he sang a cover version of ‘Tears are Cool’ and dedicated it to a girl in the pub. He told us that he never sang live again as a result of that. Well, ladies and gents, that was not strictly true because he forgot to tell the tale of the Open Mic Night at the Thatch. Although I think it happened after JC published the Teenage Fanclub story, so he was telling the truth I suppose.

The Thatch is my local. An old pub right near the sea, which in the winter is largely deserted and where five or six weary locals prop up the bar and tell tales of old to each other. A few years back, the new manager of the Thatch decided to have an ‘Open Mic’ night as a way of getting some new folk in.

It just so happens that Badger and I and a few others had arranged to meet there one night anyway – and that night was Open Mic night, although we didn’t know it was Open Mic night.

Anyway we sat in the corner drinking our beer and chatting about everything under the sun as various people turned up and played – one lady played a ukulele, another chap did a passable impression of Bruce Springsteen and so it went on – it was a good evening.

After about four pints, Badger stood up and wandered over to the bar and came back with a wry look on his face. “I’m going to do a couple of songs” he said. Which caused all of us to laugh out loud. One of the guys we are with, Mark, asks if he can record it to ‘ward off burglars, cats and foxes’ as he intends to play it on a loop as an alarm.

I’d never heard Badger sing before, largely because he said he ‘sung like horse with laryngitis’ so I was mildly intrigued because that would make him sound like the singer of Mumford and Sons.

He ambled over to the stage (I say stage, I mean floor space) popped his pint on top of the speaker, spent a few minutes tuning the acoustic guitar, took a heavy gulp of Fursty Ferret and spoke into the mic.

“Ok” he said, his voice had gone all quiet, “this is a Radiohead song, and, er, it goes a bit like this, I mean I’ll fuck it up, but its supposed to be ‘No Surprises’, it will sound more like the ‘Wheels on the Bus’ but…” he stops, or rather he starts.

Radiohead were one of Badgers favourite bands and ‘No Surprises’ was one of his favourite tracks by them. He would also tell anyone who was listening about when he first saw them live in a venue called The Cockpit in Leeds (I think) where they were supporting a band called Suede.

Metal Mickey – Suede (1992, Nude Records, Number 17)

Of course, its brilliant, its Badger, I wouldn’t be telling you this if it was rubbish, well I would, but, anyway…he gets it near perfect and when he opens his mouth to sing about fifteen mouths drop open at the same time. The boy can sing. I mean he can really sing. The singing is better than the guitar playing and that is bloody good.

He finishes ‘No Surprises’ and the place goes mental – largely in the corner occupied by me and the guys we’d gone to the pub with. Badger, looks at us and says “Shut Up, you numpties, I’m not Ed Sheeran” but he smiles. He uses this as an excuse to carry on, and he follows up with

Levi Stubbs Tears – Billy Bragg (1986, Go! Discs, Number 29)

Which he dedicates to ‘all the communists” but I think the joke is lost on people. Again its wonderful – to be honest its better than Bragg’s version and I wish I’d recorded it and then he sits down. Three people immediately bring him over pints.

“I see that horse laryngitis has cleared up”. Is all I can think of saying.



Album : OK Computer by Radiohead
Review : Q, July 1997
Author : David Cavanagh

With their 1.5 million-selling 1995 album The Bends, Radiohead executed something of a perfect Yin Yang: a great white hope and a big black cloud. Thematically, a cold look at a worn-down, scrofulous interior – Thom Yorke‘s lyric sheet did not so much scan as a fester – it was one of the great “tension” records of recent years. It was streets ahead of the fundamental volleys of angst to be found elsewhere in guitar rock that year and, indeed, on Radiohead’s own perfunctory 1993 debut album, Pablo Honey.

A new song, a gripping plea for rescue entitled Lucky – released in September, 1995 on the War Child compilation album Help – gave a tantalising indication of what their third album might contain. But now it transpires that Radiohead are even better than anybody imagined. The Bends was merely stage two in a long process of preparation for the overwhelming music of OK Computer.

Radiohead are known as a dynamic and neurotic three-guitar band, but the majority of OK Computer’s 12 songs (one of which is Lucky) takes place in a queer old landscape: unfamiliar and ominous, but also beautiful and unspoiled. They produced this album themselves (in their Oxfordshire studio), constructing an eerie sound-world that is both purpose-built – a five-piece rock band has rarely been better recorded – and oddly evocative of a 1984 lyric by the American group Let’s Active that talked of “moonstruck eyes and grey scales”. It’s not always easy to determine which instrument makes which noise. The melodies are unorthodox and tangential: there are no Justs, Creeps or Nice Dreams. It’s a huge, mysterious album for the head and soul.

To hear one of these songs alone is to catch one’s breath: it’s an unknown Radiohead. To hear the whole album is to have one’s milieu well and truly up-ended and one’s imagination repeatedly caught off guard by Radiohead’s expanded ammo-haul of treated guitars, Mellotrons (played by the increasingly dazzling Jonny Greenwood), electric pianos (ditto) and unforseen space effects. A lot of prog rock fans will get off on the album’s more planetarium-compatible noises (to say nothing of Greenwood’s King Crimson-style guitar chords on the opening track, Airbag). That said, OK Computer is not a goblin zone. In his often extraordinary lyrics, Yorke glares as cynically and as disgustedly at life as he did on The Bends. But look at how he’s writing now: “Regular exercise at the gym three days a week…Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries…Fitter, healthier and more productive/A pig in a cage on antibiotics” (Fitter, Happier). Yorke is on top form.

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, “Pink Floyd told us in 1973. Twenty-four years later, Yorke out-writes Roger Waters with heavy sarcasm (and to a better tune, incidentally): “I’ll take a quite life, a handshake of carbon monoxide and no alarms and no surprises, please” (No Surprises). Whereas Dark Side Of The Moon was about madness, meadows and muddling along, OK Computer – along with The Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness the present-day rock-fans closest equivalent to a ’70s behemoth LP – evokes the sensation of the frequent flyer who has suddenly noticed he’s travelling faster than his aircraft. “Sometimes I get overcharged,” reflects OK Computer’s The Tourist. “that’s when you see sparks/Theu ask me where I’m going at a thousand feet per second/Hey man, slow down, slow down…”

As for the actual Earth, lyric after anguished lyric declares it an unfit place to live on, and condemns Yorke himself as not fit to walk it – so where does that leave him? The answer ultimately arrives on Subterranean Homesick Alien. Yorke, driving along a country lane at night, longs to be carried off by a spaceship. Nice planet. You can have it. Small wonder much of OK Computer sounds not-quite-of-this-world.

Indeed, the first three tracks (of a five-song, continuous, 25-minute suite that’s as brilliant as any music of the last decade) all mention aliens or interstellar activity in some capacity. “I’m back to save the universe,” Yorke sings on Airbag, over a deeply sinister soundtrack of Mellotron, cross-purpose guitars (J.Greenwood, Yorke and Ed O’Brien), reggae-style bass (Colin Greenwood) and hissing, spitting drums (Phil Selway).

If Airbag is merely fascinating, Paranoid Android is simply the song of the year. The first single, it’s six-and-a-half minutes long and it comes in three sections. One of these even has it’s own sub-section. There’s terrific, jazzy 7/8 part with electric piano and deep-grooving bass; there’s a hefty dose of blistering rock (with two guitar solos); and there’s a truly awesome vocal harmony sequence reminiscent of a load of monks chanting a particularly intense extract from David Bowie‘s The Man Who Sold The World.

Although only one song on OK Computer is what you’ll call fast – Electroneering, coincidentally the worst track – it’s got to be said that Subterranean Homesick Alien, Exit Music (For A Film) and Let Down are unusually slow and thoughtful. Subterranean Homesick Alien has wonderful, tingling, golden guitars and Riders On The Storm-style electric piano. Let Down begins like a delicately chiming appendix to The Joshua Tree, but the crazy synthesizers start to fly in from all directions, like a laser show. And as Let Down’s guitar arpeggios drip-drip-drip into the brain, Yorke – one of the very few singers whose voice can appear to convey genuine grief (as opposed to pain) and despair (as opposed to frustration) – delivers a remarkable vocal: falsetto, glorious harmonies, total and utter harmonies. His voice has the terrible shiver of a toddler who can’t for the life of him stop crying.

Just before Let Down comes a gem of a song called Exit Music (For A Film). It concerns two young lovers leaving home and going on the run. Being a Yorke composition, it’s not exactly Moonlighting by Leo Sayer. Jonny Greenwood’s Mellotron produces an unearthly choir of basses and sopranos as one of the runaways implores the other, “Breathe, keep breathing, I can’t do this alone.” Then, during a murderous surge of drums and fuzz bass, the picture goes fuzzy. The fog clears just in time to hear Yorke moan the last, startling line: “We hope that you choke.”

The superb Karma Police, written about a party full of scary people, is what might resulted musically had The Bogus Man-period Roxy Music ever tried to play Sexy Sadie by The Beatles. Even weirder is Fitter, Happier. An aural nightmare with no precedent in Radiohead’s work, it’s a poem of doom, centered in the workplace recited by a pre-programmed Apple Mac that sounds like Stephen Hawking‘s electronic voice. The breakneck (and somehow unsatisfying) Electroneering kicks up a royal fuss, before collapsing into the uneasy trip-hop of Climbing Up The Walls. It now seems as though OK Computer’s second half will comprise nothing but menace and cacophony.

Suddenly, however, there’s a respite from this two-song burst of chaos. In fact, the final three-song sequence has more control, more room to breathe (and arguably more beauty) than any other part of the record. Each of these three songs is the match of Street Spirit (Fade Out) on The Bends. No Surprises is Radiohead’s prettiest moment to date, using dulcimer and Christmassy synth textures to decorate Ed O’Brien’s exquisite guitar refrain. A lesser band would have grafted Yorke’s withering lyric onto a ready-made anthem of barely adequate string-bending pique.

The Tourist, which follows the still-spooky-and-marvellous Lucky to conclude the album, is an unexpectedly bluesy waltz. It’s not easy to play a waltz with anxiety, let alone the panic felt by Yorke’s hyperventilating traveller, but they do. As it reaches its final bars, the three guitars fall out, leaving just Phil Selway’s brushed cymbals, a couple of plucks of Colin Greenwood’s bass and – finally – the “ding” of a tiny bell.

And that is that. A landmark on every latitude. Not the least achievement of OK Computer is that a major weirdo-psychological English guitar band can induce gasps of admiration, stunned silence and more than a few lumps in the throat. It’s and emotionally draining, epic experience. Now Radiohead can definitely be ranked high among the world’s greatest bands.

mp3 : Radiohead – Airbag
mp3 : Radiohead – Subterranean Homesick Alien
mp3 : Radiohead – Karma Police
mp3 : Radiohead – The Tourist

JC adds :  The review recognises and anticipates the many plaudits that would come the way of OK Computer; but I can’t but help getting annoyed at the way so many other bands have been shoehorned into the review, almost as if there’s a hope that, should these opinions be out of sync (which clearly they weren’t), at least offering a comparison with some other acts will ensure the message gets across that this is a serious and not frivolous piece of art.

PS : Tomorrow, being Christmas Day, I’ll have a review of something a bit less serious and way more frivolous.



I had this post slated for later on in the month but have brought it forward to dovetail with yesterday’s high-quality contribution from Martin.

I’m just about to bring the series on the singles by The Undertones to a close and one of the other bands I had in mind for a similar series was Radiohead; the problem however, is that I haven’t bought any singles by the band since about 2003 and so would have been forced to spend a fair bit of money pulling together all the subsequent b-sides since that period in time; instead I’ve hit on the idea of cobbling together the various b-sides from a particular era to offer a suggested accompanying bonus album to that from which they were lifted.

It makes sense to start with OK Computer, from which three singles were lifted.  I say makes sense in as much that a number of these b-sides have already appeared on the blog thanks to a posting looking solely at Paranoid Android.

Much of the music and sounds making up these tracksare well worth a listen given that they show different sides to the band and are something of a pointer as to the road they would go down a few years later with Kid A and Amnesiac.

mp3 : Radiohead – The OK Computer bonus album


1. Climbing Up The Walls (Zero 7 mix) – from Karma Police single #2
2. Pearly – from Paranoid Android single #1
3. Airbag (live in Berlin) – from No Surprises single #2
4. Melatonin – from Paranoid Android single #2
5. Meeting In The Aisle – from Karma Police single #1
6. Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2) – from Paranoid Android single #2
7. Climbing Up The Walls (Fila Brazillia Mix) – from Karma Police single #2
8. Lull – from Karma Police single #1
9. Lucky (live in Florence) – from No Surprises single #2
10. How I Made My Millions – from No Surprises single #1
11. Palo Alto – from No Surprises single #1
12. A Reminder – from Karma Police single #1


I may or may nor repeat this for other Radiohead LPs. It’s up to you guys to offer advise on whether that’s a good idea or not. I won’t be offended if you tell me to make this a one-off.




After more than 100 ICAs, I was wondering which artist or band I could meaningfully submit a compilation for. So many of my favourites have already been done. And then it occurred to me – as yet, there has been no ICA for Radiohead.

Of course, when I sat down to try to draw up a ten track compilation it quickly became obvious why it hasn’t been done before: trying to whittle down the collected works of the Grand Old Duke of Yorke and his men to just ten songs, just one side of a C90, is practically impossible. Unless…

…unless there’s a scheme, a set of rules above and beyond those that normally go into drafting a compilation. It was at this point I realised that Radiohead have released nine studio albums. What if, I wondered, I were to limit myself to one track per album, plus a bonus closing track of my choice? That might work and, if I stuck to the albums in chronological order, it would also provide an accurate representation of how the band has progressed over the years.

Sounds a great plan, doesn’t it? Except that, in reality, even choosing just one track per album proved to be fantastically difficult (especially for The Bends, Ok Computer, Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows). Anyway, enough of my excuses, let’s get on; to assuage my guilt for omitting certain tracks, I’ll namecheck the other songs that were in contention but, for now, these are the chosen nine plus one.

Side One

1. from Pablo Honey: Creep

Sorry, it has to be. I know it’s been over-played, and certainly over-covered (if YouTube is anything to go by). It isn’t massively representative of the rest of the album, and I have even heard it described as “Radiohead for people who don’t like Radiohead”. But, and it’s a very big but, without this track there is probably a very good chance we wouldn’t be talking about Radiohead now, and certainly not in such reverential tones. The fact is that this song, aside from striking a chord with every disaffected and alienated person that’s ever heard it, every loner, every outsider, aside from all that it established the band in a way that the parent album never could. It’s quite possible that without Creep the only blog posts you’d read about Radiohead now would be of the “whatever happened to…” variety. And on top of that, it has that excellent crunchy guitar that kicks in at the start of the chorus.

Also in contention: Anyone Can Play Guitar and Lurgee.

2. from The Bends: Fake Plastic Trees

Of all the albums, choosing just one track from The Bends was the toughest choice of all. Fake Plastic Trees gets the nod though, as it brought Radiohead’s social conscious and environmental awareness to the fore, whilst also demonstrating that they could be musically subtle, delicate in a way that they hadn’t been on Pablo Honey. The clincher for me is more personal though, in that when I saw the band live in 2008 their rendition of this song gave me goosebumps on the night, and nearly broke my heart in the weeks that followed.

Also in contention: High And Dry, (Nice Dream) and Street Spirit (Fade Out).

3. from OK Computer: No Surprises

A lullaby for the suicidal, perhaps. And yet one that somehow manages to be uplifting, even in the unsettling video in which Thom looks set to drown (spoiler – he doesn’t). You can draw a straight line through Asleep by The Smiths to this song, and then… where? The parent album was, for a time, often held up as not just the band’s best but the best ever, by anyone, frequently troubling the top of the “best N albums of all time” lists that were very popular around the millennium. It is great, but I think The Bends shades it.

Also in contention: Paranoid Android (“Bohemian Rhapsody for Generation X”, as the music press all cried at the time), Karma Police and Lucky.

4. from Kid A: National Anthem

Given that The Bends are OK Computer were both excellent and successful, Kid A was always going to be a tough act to pull off. It remains the point at which Radiohead started to be non-essential, for some people. Not me though. It’s a great album, another where it is hard to choose one track. I’ve gone for National Anthem – very simple lyrically, but the music is the hook, an ear-worming loop that has, arguably, set the tone for most of everything that has followed. Like lots of the best Radiohead, this comes into its own in a car with a good stereo, in the small hours of a crystal clear night, on an open road…

Also in contention: Idioteque, Everything In Its Right Place.

5. from Amnesiac: Knives Out

As the band continued to push boundaries, willing to sacrifice transient fans to satisfy their own musical curiosity, the songs that were chosen as singles from each album became increasingly unrepresentative, and so it is with Knives Out. Led by twin guitar melodies, it’s a song that might have graced The Bends. It has brilliantly bleak lyrics too, to whit “If you’d been a dog they would have drowned you at birth.” I don’t know what it says about Radiohead (or the type of fan I am) but this and Pablo Honey were the albums it was easiest to choose only one song from.

Also in contention: Pyramid Song.

Side Two

6. from Hail To The Thief: Scatterbrain

On the face of it, a tough album to choose from, casually littered with brilliance as it is. In reality, an easy choice for me; the instrumental introduction to Scatterbrain has been my mobile phone ringtone for as long as I can remember. It is one of my absolute favourites songs, not just by Radiohead but by anybody, ever. Terrific lyrical story telling too, in which storm force winds are a metaphor for the blown apart nature of a failed relationship.

Also in contention: Go To Sleep, 2+2=5, Myxomatosis.

7. from In Rainbows: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

That straight line I mentioned earlier? Maybe its third point is here, I don’t know. For a band who have increasingly forsaken guitars (to the consternation of a good proportion of their fanbase), here’s proof that they can still overlay complementary guitar motifs better than just about anyone. And few bands give percussion a voice, rather than just rhythm and timekeeping duties, as well as Radiohead. Also, even fewer songs could hint at escape at the end and yet be so ambiguous as to whether that escape is a good thing or not.

Also in contention: Reckoner, Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

8. from The King Of Limbs: Morning Mr Magpie

The intro to this makes me think of The Police. No, wait, come back! Here’s a song that again sits at the accessible end of the recent Radiohead spectrum, and ends with the lament that “you’ve stolen all the magic, took my melody”. A proportion of the band’s fans may have thought the same thing… but this is a perfect example of a Radiohead track that rewards repeated listens, rather than chases immediacy.

Also in contention: Little by Little (for similar reasons), Feral.

9. from A Moon Shaped Pool: Burn The Witch

In which Radiohead go all Camber-wicker Green. A genuinely great song and one that is, even without the video, genuinely disturbing, with its lyrics of low-flying panic attacks, red crosses on wooden doors and, most ominously, “we know where you live”. Add the sawing, minor-key string backing and this isn’t going to pack the floor at your local indie disco in quite the same way as Creep. A song for these times, where Washington has become Summer Isle or, perhaps, Salem.

Also in contention: Daydreaming, Present Tense.

10. bonus track: Street Spirit (Fade Out)

What better way to end the album? If ever a song was made to close an LP, this is it, lyrically, musically and thematically. Yes, it hankers back to a period when the band were at the peak of their commercial powers (doesn’t Thom look young in the video?) and yes, it features plenty of guitars. But not the crunchy guitars of Creep and Anyone Can Play Guitar, but beautiful, overlaid arpeggios that repeat, rise and fall to hypnotic effect. And there’s a lyrical counterpoint to some of the less cheerful themes found elsewhere on this ICA, and even in this song – for every row of houses bearing down on Thom, there’s the more positive (albeit slightly defensive) “be a world child, form a circle” and the haunting outro refrain of “immerse your soul in love”. Best of all is the way the song ends – it doesn’t fade out, of course, but the guitar arpeggio loops round and ties itself in a neat bow. The perfect finish to this or any compilation.

And there you have it. There are probably as many Radiohead ICA combinations as there are fans, and my own selection would probably be different next week (maybe even tomorrow). But, for now, I think this compilation works. What do you reckon?

New Amusements



Recollections of sitting alone in a cafe having a bite for lunch. One of the staff was mucking about on a laptop creating a mix of music for the patrons to enjoy or endure. All of a sudden, amidst the non-descript singer-songwriters with their whimsical ballads with a twist of indie-folk, this came blaring out:-

mp3 : Radiohead – Bones

It’s the fourth track on the 1995 LP The Bends. In some ways it is a sort of forgotten Radiohead classic. It is squeezed onto the album right after two hit singles – High And Dry and Fake Plastic Trees, and right before one of their best loved songs and then another hit – (Nice Dream) and Just. But there’s no way that Bones should ever be regarded as a filler track.

Great tune. Killer chorus. And an ambiguous enough lyric to spark a debate. Is it merely about growing old or is it about the physical pain that a mental breakdown brings? Who knows? And who really cares?? Just turn the volume up and enjoy the music. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s indie all at once. It’s also magnificent.

Especially played live.





So here we finally have something from probably the most talked-about band across cyberspace*

*(well they were back in 2008!!!).

I was very very lucky to see Radiohead at the outset of their career on two occasions – the first when they were complete unknowns in September 1992 as the support act to The Frank and Walters at The Venue in Edinburgh. Just over a year later, having had success in the USA with Creep, they were given the support slot with James and this time it was Glasgow Barrowlands just before Xmas 1993.

I’d be a liar if I said that on the basis of those two gigs I could have predicted that world domination would soon be theirs. In fact, I’d go as far to say that having bought debut album Pablo Honey on the back of the 1992 gig and been a bit disappointed with it, I wasn’t all that looking forward to seeing them support James. But that night, they gave a pretty decent performance, and a bit of hope that they were going to be more than one-hit wonders.

Problem was, the band seemed to disappear from view thereafter as the UK went barmy for Britpop. As we now know, it was in fact to begin the long and drawn-out process to write and record songs for their second LP, on which work began in early 1994 but which wasn’t released until May 1995.

And its my considered opinion that The Bends might just be the best LP of all time…..its certainly the one I’ve listened to more than any other over the past 13 years (up to 2008!!!!). Yup, I much prefer it to the more-critically lauded OK Computer.

Part of this is down to the existence of the song that has made #25.

You can scour the internet and see that the song is pretty special to a lot of people, but there’s a bit of argument as to what exactly it is about. What can’t be denied is that Thom Yorke delivers an incredibly intense and moving vocal while the boys in the band deliver a haunting and memorable tune and melody.

It is clearly about something that is far from natural – the constant use of words like rubber, plastic and polystyrene only help emphasise that point. But is it about an artificial feeling of love that the protagonist has for someone, or does it have a deeper meaning? Is it indeed the template for Radiohead’s manifesto for the future in which their disgust about the way the planet is being treated would come to dominate how their songs sounded as well as the band’s philosophy and outlook on things?

I’m not entirely sure, and I’ve said previously, I tend not to delve too deep into the meaning of lyrics. They are important, but no more so than the music.

I know that many of you will disagree that this in fact the finest single ever released by Radiohead. While I had a bit of a debate with myself about which song to select for certain bands, this one was, as the cliché goes, a no-brainer. This is a song that can provoke so many emotions in me, depending on my mood and state of mind, and there’s not many others that I can say that about.

mp3 : Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees
mp3 : Radiohead – India Rubber
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure?

Surprisingly, the single only reached #20 in the UK charts, and it was later single Street Spirit (Fade Out) that was the big seller.


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




The Shoebox of Delights – The Robster Picked Number 18
‘Nowhere’ Original Soundtrack – Various Artists


Soundtracks. I rarely buy them, in fact I own two. This one, which I didn’t buy, and Trainspotting which was a gift at Christmas. The problem with soundtracks is that you never get one that is 100% full of good tracks. You get the odd track, the odd unreleased gem, the odd hard to find song, but you wouldn’t buy the whole thing because it also contains Celine Dion, Phil Collins or Mumford and Sons.

Nowhere is no different. It contains some excellent music but it contains some utter utter shite as well. Believe me no compilation album with Marilyn Manson on it is worth buying.

Nowhere is a Gregg Araki film about the Doomed Generation or something – here is a snippet from the press stuff around the film

“A group of teenagers try to sort out their lives and emotions while bizarre experiences happen to each one, including alien abductions, bad acid trips, bisexual experiences, suicides, bizarre deaths, and a rape by a TV star. All of this happens before “the greatest party of the year”.

Now bearing in mind my favourite film of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark followed by Back To the Future II – this isn’t my type of film but it does have a pretty good soundtrack (Marilyn Manson, 311, Coco and the Bean and Catherine Wheel withstanding)

Going off topic slightly I was once on a training course and we did this stupid ‘icebreaking’ thing where you had to name your favourite food, favourite album, favourite film and fantasy dinner party guest to a bunch of strangers. Anyway, I was sat on a table with four chaps, one I can only describe as a ‘hipster twat’ and when it was his turn to talk about his favourite film (this was after I said mine and the chap next to me, said ‘I don’t know, probably Jaws’) said this “I guess, I’m kinda leftfield, my film would be something by Russian avant garde agent provocateur Alexandr Soukurov”. That is what he said. Hope he’s reading this and if so – your beard looked crap and from the look of it your tattooist has put the Sanskrit word for ‘Knobjockey’ on your left arm.

Anyway, the soundtrack, let’s talk about the good stuff, the best track on it by far is by Chuck D ‘Generation Wrekked’ angry, shouty hip hop at its best by the guy who does it better than anyone else on the planet. There are some other gems ‘How Can You Be Sure?’ by Radiohead – which I think features on the B side on ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ but dates back to when they weren’t even called Radiohead (thanks Badgerman, for that snippet of information, he really is a walking Radiohead encyclopaedia). You get an Elastica track ‘In the City’ which I think is only available on a BBC Radio Sessions, and at just over 90 seconds, it is exactly what you expect from Elastica snotty, ferocious and bratty. There is also ‘Dicknail’ by Hole, which is them at their rawest, angriest and ultimately best. It’s a downright nasty song but its also great.

mp3 : Chuck D – Generation Wrekked
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure
mp3 : Elastica – In The City
mp3 : Hole – Dicknail

There are a couple of tracks which are not rare, ‘Life Is Sweet’ by the Chemical Brothers is here (given the Daft Punk remix treatment) in all its eight minute glory and ‘Trash’ by Suede – or The London Suede as the album calls them. Both are excellent – the Suede track ends the album and rather lifts the gloom from the Americanised College rock that precedes it.

You also get a few tracks by decent bands who recorded them specifically for this album – there are two of these that stand out ‘Nowhere’ by Curve, which is possibly one of the best tracks that they have ever produced. They sound sinister, angry and Toni Halliday vocal is more menacing than ever on it. The other one is ‘I Have the Moon’ by the much missed and loved Lush – and this may be the albums highpoint, a tremendously dreamy gorgeous song that is relaxing and a genuine chill down the spine moment.

mp3 : Lush – I Have The Moon

You also get a rare James track (saying that I gave up on James after ‘Whiplash’ so it might not be that rare) called ‘Thursday Treatments’ which is an instrumental track. Its bland. Really bland. They are trying to sound like Aphex Twin but end up sounding like the music I expect to be played in Japanese lifts. Seriously this is why I gave up on James. Twenty years ago I would have bought this solely for the fact it had a James track on it and would have justified its uselessness by calling it ‘Experimental’. I don’t know why but this song has angered me so much but I have just punched a cuddly toy owl.

mp3 : James – Thursday Treatments

So that is ‘Nowhere’ I am half tempted to give the film a spin now but I have just read that it has Ryan Philippe in it, so know it will be waste of time, a man that is to acting what I am to flying helicopters – bizarrely it also has Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers in it, still no reason to watch it though.

That was Number 18, on the list, what’s next guys…?




There is a tiny Scottish feeling to this weeks column.

Firstly, I have just read that every year more than 1000 people placed a bet this year that the football score East Fife 5 Forfar 4 will occur. This genuinely made my choke on my cereal. 5 -4 scorelines in football are rare – even rarer when two teams with names that sound slightly like the numbers play each other. If you ask me that is 1000 people with far too much time on their hands. Although I do imagine that if the scoreline does occur, the BBC would probably eat itself with excitement.

Secondly the CD of choice this week was from Octopus a band from Aberdeen who signed to Food Records (home of Blur and Jesus Jones) in the mid 90s.

They were a mid table indie band with a liking for big choruses. Sadly, when I put the CD in the machine it refused to play. Which is a shame because this is a belter of a record, I remember it well and always thought that it should have reached much higher in the charts than it did. When it came out, I had a guest reviewing the singles with me and after we listened to this, with its trumpet inspired chorus we had a small chat about the use of brass in singles and whether this was a good thing or not, we decided pretty much as long as they didn’t ruin the song it was ok (so you’d better but the bugle down down Mr Mumford). My guest reviewer loved this song (understandably) and described it memorably as ‘a brass blessed beauty rather than a trumpet troubled turd’. I gave him an extra pork pie for the wonder of his alliteration alone.

I’d loved to post this song but can’t post it, my only hope is that JC has it earmarked for his Scottish Single Series because your lives (well your ears at least) will be all the better for hearing it.

(JC adds…..I do have the track via one of those indie compilations that were all the rage in the Britpop era….and while S-WC is quick to sing its praises, I’m more inclined to say that it’s a very fine Oasis tribute.)

mp3 : Octopus – Your Smile

So instead of that I have done a random shuffle on my iPod (Classic 3rd Gen, 8830 songs) and will post the first three songs that come on. So first up we have: –

Oooh allow me a moment here ‘TUNE’ – ‘Arena’ – Suuns. Suuns are a Canadian band that sprang to our attention a few backs with their debut album ‘Zeroes QC’. This was to be was the standout track from that album. It has a kind of space rock feel to it as it whooshes along magically. ‘Zeroes QC’ comes highly recommended as well. They released a second album last year ‘Images du Futur’ which to be honest wasn’t as good.

mp3 : Suuns – Arena

Second song – my iPod is being kind to you all this morning ‘Coalition’ – Iceage.  Iceage, are a Danish punk band, and they rock like bastards. Fiercely independent and with a strong fan based ethic they have released two albums quite quietly in the last couple of years, the second ‘You’re Nothing’ was an absolute treasure of a record, it’s all done and dusted in about 35 minutes but it leaves you breathless, great shouty, simple, spiky punk rock. They also sing occasionally in Danish which is a rare treat. If you like Iceage (and you should) I recommend you check out Metz (another great Canadian band) and Radkey who do similar things in a shouty manner.

mp3 : Iceage – Coalition

Finally, aah lovely, ‘Aerial’ – Four Tet – this is taken from last years ‘Beautiful Rewind’ album. I’ve said before that I love Four Tet and think that the brains behind it Kieron Hebden is a genius (NME people if you are reading – here is a Godlike Genius you should celebrate don’t waste your time with Blondie, you fools). Four Tet make beautiful music, rarely do they release a bad record. If you check out their website there are also regularly loads of free downloads of mixtapes (one just last week, an hour of free dance music) and other bits and pieces. If you are not familiar with Four Tet, the best place to start is ‘Rounds’ that is an album that deserves to sit in anyones Top 50 ever. Radiohead fans should check out their remix of Skttrbrain’ too.

mp3 : Four Tet – Aerial

See you next week hopefully with a CD that plays!

JC adds again……
That’s the first time any of those four bands have appeared on this or the previous blog, so thanks again to S-WC for broadening mine and maybe some of your horizons. I have previously featured that Radiohead remix that was mentioned:

mp3 : Radiohead – Skttrbrain (Four Text Remix)



Last week this comment was left behind by Ian Balentine:-

“Theme For Great Cities was totally ripped off for the Radiohead song “Where I End And You Begin” from Hail To The Thief. Not saying that’s a bad song, I just wish they’d give SImple MInds a songwriting credit. Listen side by side and you’ll cringe.”

It’s been a long long while since I listened to Hail To The Thief in its entirety so I fished out the copy from the CD shelves.  Lo and behold……

mp3 : Radiohead – Where I End And You Belong (The Sky Is Falling In)

mp3 : Simple Minds – Theme For Great Cities

I have to add that all these years later I heard lots of cracking things on Hail To The Thief that passed me on its release in 2003. It’s still a bit hit’nmiss in places but there’s a lot more to enjoy about it than I previously recalled. And its opening track is an absolute belter.  Here it is with the other tracks that were on the two CD singles:-

mp3 : Radiohead – 2+2 =5

mp3 : Radiohead – Remyxomatosis (Christian Vogel RMX)

mp3 : Radiohead – There There (first demo)

mp3 : Radiohead – Skttrbrain (Four Tet remix)

mp3 : Radiohead – I Will (Los Angeles version)

Be warned…..there’s loads of electronic noodling on these mixes of tracks that all made the final cut of the LP.  Havingsaid that, the 7 minute plus version of There There is fascinating just to compare it to the later version and mix that was released as a single.