Friday, July 15, 2005

Radiohead, I

Radiohead- The Bends
I wish I could say I was down back in the day. I’m not going to lie to you, though. Radiohead was a band that I talked a lot of shit about when they broke. ‘Creep’ was all over the place, on radio and MTV, magazines, and I took a reactionary, uninformed glee in calling them Nirvanabees. I figured they’d have their one hit and then go away.

When ‘The Bends’ came out, of course, I ignored it. I remember seeing Courtney Love hype the record during some interview, which only served as further ammunition.

When I was working at the record store, though, ‘OK Computer’ got played once, twice a day every day and I was forced to reconsider the notion that the band were a bunch of hack poseurs. That record was so jarring that I did a complete 180, to the point where I started admitting I was wrong about my earlier thoughts on the band. You know how I hate that. Looking back, I can see that ‘Creep’ was good and that I was in the middle of my supposed punk-as-fuck phase, which mostly involved being contrary in a knee-jerk fashion for the sake of it. It coulda been worse- I could have started doing crystal or blowing up cop cars or something.

I’m still not sure whether ‘The Bends’ would have been retroactively ascribed the borderline godhead status it enjoys had it not been for the success of ‘OK Computer,’ but I’m sure we can all agree, if nothing else, that it’s a very good pop record, right?

Radiohead- Airbag/How Am I Driving?

There’s a couple of albums that have these urban reorg myths attached to ‘em. The story regarding the Pixies’ ‘Doolittle’ was that the album was intended to be listened to in the order that the insert booklet suggests, rather than in the strict 1-15 running order programmed into the CD. I’ve tried it a bunch of times, and hell, I’ll bite- the record makes a good deal of sense when the ‘suggested’ running order is programmed in (I’m not going to say that it makes better sense- more like different sense. Try it- follow the order suggested in the booklet, starting with ‘Gouge Away’ and continuing all the way through the lyrics that are listed right side up, until they flip to upside-down, ending with ‘Debaser.’ Sounds pretty good, eh?).

The second such album is ‘OK Computer’, which is a little more straightforward. There’s some cryptic mention on the album’s artwork about 2 being 1 or some such shit, leading geeks worldwide to posit that ‘Paranoid Android’ is the start of the album (as evidenced by beeps at the beginning of the song that sound like they’re counting down the start of a film). If you follow the album’s ‘storyline,’ the song ‘Airbag’ then becomes the second to last song, right before the finale, ‘Exit Music From A Film.’

Why do I mention all of this? I suppose it’s because ‘Airbag,’ along with ‘Let Down,’ is one of my favorite songs on ‘OK Computer.’ It’s the first track on ‘How Am I Driving,’ a collection of b-sides that shows a band trying out a bunch of new ideas with varied degrees of success. Some interesting stuff, some that’s kinda okay, nothing to scoff at or hold up as an embarrassment of any sort, no matter what order you shuffle the songs into.


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