SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Despite the lush, orchestral brilliance of Suede's Dog Man Star,
there is a nagging feeling that if the songs were sung by a woman they
would be indistinguishable from Celine Dion. So-called indie boy rock
does seem to be moving in a more romantic direction - and it's a good
Radiohead have extricated themselves from the clutches of Creep, a
song which always struck me as some weird form of Camden Town bravado:
"Nyah, nyah, I'm more alienated than you." If Dog Man Star is Celine
Dion with an arse on the cover, then High and Dry could almost pass for
Blue-era Joni Mitchell on a bad hair day.
"Two jumps in a week, I bet you think that's pretty clever, don't
you boy...?" Thom Yorke's slender but elegant voice compliments the
minimalist 'flick tap' acoustic guitar. The clarity and separation of
the production is excellent.
No offence, but this is simply a pretty song. And in this day and
age, to hear the squeak of a finger moving up and down a guitar string
is so much more exciting than a million miles of feedback.
THE UNFORGETTABLE IRE
Live: Oxford Apollo
"This song's about Oxford, I s'pose," says Thom Yorke, managing to
sound like a spiteful 25-year-old adolescent. Then he starts singing:
"I can't afford to breathe in this town..."
He's lying this time. This afternoon, there were gaggles of
Japanese kids clustered by the stage door, dissolving in excitement
whenever a member of Thom's group crossed their path. Hours later,
when he starts songs that the more hysterical pockets of the crowd
recognise, people start squealing. There's a celebratory, rather
frantic mood about tonight, as though the most devout members of
Radiohead's public (concentrated, inevitably, in their home town) are
willing them on, extending their arms so as to push them on to the next
And they'll get there, of course: the swathes of new songs played
tonight say as much. If My Iron Lung showed them groping towards a new
sophistication, leaving behind the last generic vestiges of indie-rock
and moving towards everyman appeal and something approaching
timelessness, tonight proves it conclusively. Put simply, much of
Radiohead's new stuff appears to be all but classic
You know as much when Planet Telex finds Johnny Greenwood
stabbing at a borrowed keyboard, making it sound like a refugee from
the opening bars of "Won't Get Fooled Again", until it ends up being a
flab-free relative of U2's Bullet The Blue Sky; when Just sounds like
The Beatles' Dear Prudence being re-routed through an array of fuzz-
pedals; when Fake Plastic Trees and Street Spirit take Thom's trademark
barbed ennui and advance it by furlongs. Before (Prove Yourself,
Creep, Thinking About You), he'd sneer at the rest of the world while
simultaneously sounding like someone who regretted his exclusion. Now,
with good reason, he has it in him to sound like someone thrusting his
non-conformity in the face of the world and asking them what they're
going to do about it. Every aspect of him and his group has been
pumped fill of strident self- confidence - so even the old songs sound
like they've been comprehensively re-invented. Anyone Can Play Guitar
is now peppered by squalling, discordant touches that make it sound
like an extended fit of pique.
Stop Whispering, though it contains the ever- embarrassing moment
when Thom utters "F--- you" to some unnamed foe, is suddenly coated in
the kind of spaceship noises that grace Spiritualized records. Only
Creep avoids any kind of makeover; it's handed over to the crowd
halfway through, as if Thom wants rid of it, so as everyone can immerse
themselves in the new songs without constantly glancing backwards.
Right at the end they play You. As its inaugural bars tumble from
the speakers, the teenage fan club - concentrated for some reason at
the back of the stalls - squeal their loudest squeals, dazzling white
light drenches the group, and Thom starts making the bow-legged
movements that give him the appearance of someone being electrocuted.
That's when it all becomes transparent. So....
Forget about the fact that they look like the most unlikely heroes
imaginable. Drag out the windswept photo locations, the leather
trousers and the waiting list for the pantheon of great, great groups.
Because all of a sudden, Radiohead are worthy of it all.