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Revolution In The 'Head
From ‘Creep’, through ‘My Iron Lung’, to ‘High And Dry’. From there to ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘Lucky’ and ‘No Surprises’. Select presents the two-part definitive story of every Radiohead song ever. First though, over the page we ask the not unreasonable question: where is that fourth album from?
STORY: Steve Lowe PHOTOS: Ian Patrick

They’ve spent ages noodling around and changed location four times – now, just maybe, Radiohead are ready to record their fourth album...

“We've had a Beta Band phase, but we're out of it now,” was Ed O'Brien's assessment of progress on the follow-up to 'OK Computer' while he was out enjoying this year's Glastonbury.
There's little reason to doubt the fact that next year is going to be musically dominated by two things: the new releases by what Michael Eavis has called the two best bands in the world. Thankfully, only one of them is reputedly still in the throes of a Beta Band fixation.
So the pots, pans and elastic bands have been put away, and the rockabilly-folk-blues-hip-hop jams possibly lost to posterity. But what, then, do the new Radiohead songs sound like? Glimpses of tracks at soundtracks or on the Meeting People Is Easy documentary have already caused excitement.
False rumours have suggested a collaboration with classico-metal types Godspeed You Black Emperor! and a duet with Michael Stipe. But if Ed O'Brien's internet rehearsal diaries ( are to be believed, the new Radiohead soundworld bears echoes of Missy
Elliott, Stax Records and De La Soul. Strange indeed.

EMI HAS SAID OF THE NEXT album that “the band are not in a rush” – and they're not kidding.
Cogitating and ruminating comes easily to Radiohead. One favoured technique involves recording a song, not being satisfied with it, recording 16 different versions and then returning to the original because they did like it after all.
Rehearsals began in January, shifting from Paris to Copenhagen and back to the Gloucestershire stately home where much of 'OK Computer' was made, all of which appears to have been little more than mucking about.
“We've been allowed to be indulgent but I'm not sure if people are going to hear all the stuff we've been doing,” Ed explained at Glastonbury. “But we've done a lot of work, so there's lots of stuff for future Radiohead box sets.” After a short summer recess, sessions recently began again at the band's own new studio in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire.
Given the sluggish nature of the work and the huge weight of expectation they are carrying, it seems bizarre that Ed O'Brien is reporting day-to-day progress on the net. Not many bands would happily expose their internal traumas, occasional tantrums and moments of self-doubt to even their greatest fans. But Radiohead are.
So, while traces of old skool hip hop and soul may be influencing the music, on 4 August the rhythm guitarist suggested Radiohead could well be treading the same path as less welcome forebears who also sought to follow up the 'best album in the world ever'.
“We've been working on this since January and nothing substantial has come of it,” Ed's column reads, “except maybe a few harsh lessons in how not to do things. It's like, how do we start this? When we made our last three albums, there were time restrictions – we no longer have these. Are we going down Stone Roses territory?”

BY LATE JULY TRACKS WERE ONLY just starting to take shape, though Thom was still bringing in new songs. One - 'You And Whose Army' - appeared to be going backwards. “It was sounding great last week, so what happened today? Time to go home,” Ed recounts.
Doubts about their working methods began to emerge. Caught in a cycle of indulgent tinkering, the band were beginning to feel like they were in limbo. “It's taken us seven years to get this sort of freedom, and it's what we always wanted, but it could be so easy to fuck it all up.”
Eventually they downed instruments for an earnest debate on how to best change course. Reconvening two weeks later, on 31 August, Radiohead again reassessed the situation, only then coming to a novel way of solving their predicament.
“After only two months' rehearsal and three months' recording,” Ed writes, “it's been concluded that what we should be doing now is trying to get basic arrangements. We're like fucking lasers, us.”
Which tracks make the final cut is clearly nowhere near being decided but the following are likely contenders:
='Lost At Sea' Thom believed they recorded the definitive version in Paris, essentially because he was happy with the vocals. Ed was more satisfied with a later version “for its relentlessness and energy”.
= 'Neil Young #9' Features harmonies between Thom, Ed and Phil, making Phil feel like the drummer from The Eagles, prompting Colin to start calling the track 'Phil Is Don Henley'. “A fucking brilliant rehearsal,” Ed exclaims. “It's great to be in our band.”
= 'Optimistic' Features the line “ this one just crawled out the swamp", which reminds Ed of PJ Harvey.
= 'You And Whose Army' Stripped down to just vocals and guitar at Jonny's insistence.
= 'Follow Me Around' Concludes with what Ed calls a De La Soul-esque jam. Before that it apparently sounds like Talking Heads.
= 'Up The Ladder' “Thirty seconds into it and it sounds utter shite,” Ed recounts. “Thom stops it. Lack of energy. Phil gets pissed off. We talk a bit. Start up again with a dose of the 'fuck you's. Sounds better almost immediately. Funny that.” Later into the sessions, a more spacious version emerges. “Things are happenning,” Ed reckons. “Jonny brings in the 'Missy Eliot' chord??!! Thom sings lyrics from another song, Cozzie comes with a catchy riff for the chorus and Phil is… funking.”
= 'C-minor Song' Described as being “in a Stax stylee”. Although worked on extensively, Jonny and Ed are worried that the song has become too slick.
= 'Cuttooth' A “long and hypnotic” krautrock-influenced groove revolving around the bass riff. The first song the group tackled after deciding to concentrate on one song at a time, after which it sounds “a lot better”.
= 'Life In A Glass House' Performed at soundchecks, this track is on the Meeting People Is Easy documentary. Lies somewhere between 'Exit Music' and 'Climbing Up The Walls'.

THOUGH THE MUSIC MAY STILL BE embryonic, the visual aesthetic for the next phase of Radiohead already appears to be in place. Designed by Stanley Dunwood (sic) – collaborator with Thom on all Radiohead's covers – the recently relaunched website bears the unmistakable Yorke imprint.
The labyrinthine site buzzes with clean flashing images (blinking monkey icons being particularly prominent). Invulnerable pages bearing titles like 'NIHILOCAPITALISM', 'wet? fluffy? YOU DECIDE' and 'CLOUD FUCKING CUCKOO LAND' feature items like a newspaper clipping of tearful bankrupt Japanese boss Shohai Nozawa wailing, 'I am bad. I am to blame', a scrawled drawing of a furnace, a photo of some jet fighters flying over a beach full of holiday-makers, reams of Yorke-flavoured textual scree (“One day I took the books from my shelf and replaced them with the words") that seem purpose-built to give Radiohead fans the vapours.
Which only reinforces how good it will be to have them back. But when, exactly, will that be? Despite the lack of record company time strictures, there is one event that's surely figuring highly in the band's mind: Glastonbury 2000. If the next album's release misses that, then Radiohead may not be able to stamp their supremacy on the forthcoming year in the indisputable style they salvaged in 1997.
Considering the early stages of the actual recordings and the intricate nature of their studio pourings, this really doesn't give them a lot of time. Which means one of two things: they'll either need to step back from the highly wrought sophistication of 'OK Computer' or they're going to have to work overtime.

=For further information, go to and
Eight years, 65 tracks, a lot of bad haircuts. The song-by-song Radiohead story starts in 1992...

On ‘Drill’ EP, released 5/5/92. Also on ‘Pablo Honey’ 22/2/93
Radiohead's debut release, the 'Drill' EP might have peaked at a deeply unstaggering Number 101 but its lead track 'Prove Yourself' managed to make some powerful friends: much-missed Radio One DJ Gary Davies declared it his Happening Track Of The Week. Well, it was a start. And it could have been worse. Only two months previously the new Parlophone signings were still calling themselves the deeply naff On A Friday.
Their four-track debut was produced by the band's manager, Chris Hufford, at his Courtyard Studios in Oxford, a decision he later admitted was “not a clever move. Definitely a conflict of interest. It caused some friction with Thom.”
The version recorded for their debut album, 'Pablo Honey', is a more robust creation, the US producers Sean Slade and Paul Q Kolderie helping fashion an incendiary kickstand for the chorus. “Because they'd done that one before,”' Kolderie recalls, “it was hard for them to do it again. But after a lot of takes it eventually came out as one of the best on the album.”
Reflecting on the light/dark dynamic and guitar solo in particular, Ed O'Brien has said of their debut, “We were in hock to the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr up to our eyeballs”. Tackling the choice between senseless, pressurised toil and the sweet release of suicide, the song prefigures 'No Surprises'. It establishes the singer's misfit status from the off, particularly when he finally responds to the chiding, mechanical ‘Prove yourself’ with a despairingly wailed “Why?” The track later provided the agonising sight of young audiences singing along to the line “I'm better off dead”.

‘Drill’ EP
Cars have long been a staple of rock'n'roll lyrics, a tradition Thom has keenly continued. Few, though, have brought quite the same paranoia and disgust to the subject. Armchair psychologists don't have to look far to find the root of this obsession: in 1987 he was in a car accident in which his then-girlfriend suffered whiplash. This short, unadorned ballad was the only EP track not to make the debut album. Worth noting, is the Yorke-patented balladic bellow (after two minutes) – clearly considered a worthwhile feature.

‘Drill’ EP and ‘Pablo Honey’
While the 'Pablo Honey' sessions were often stilted and unproductive, of 'You' Paul Kolderie remembers that “we had fun with that one. We had this really enjoyable day where Ed did a whole feedback channel.”
Comparatively loose on the EP, 'You' became a raging rock opener that wouldn't have shamed 'The Bends'. The stuttering beat suggests a psyche coming dangerously unstuck and the wheezing feedback adds to the churning intensity of the guitars. The lyric refers to an apocalyptically doomed relationship, with both parties being destroyed in a ridiculously infernal climax. Thom has claimed he's no good at writing love songs.

‘Drill’ EP, ‘Pablo Honey’
In one of his first quotes, archetypal nerdish Angry Young Man Elvis Costello claimed that the only emotions which inspired him to write were “revenge and guilt”. Thom idolised him. An indifferent indie slog, this green-eyed anthem to jealousy came to life on 'Pablo Honey' as a Costello-ish ballad that caustically berates an ex-partner who traded in her old boyfriend for the fake world of fame (inadequacy in the face of a confident, successful female would, of course, soon be revisited). An early case of playing with all available studio toys, the slow version sees Jonny playing a harmonium that was installed at the album session's Chipping Norton Studio. This song is a favourite of Colin and Jonny's mum, presumably oblivious to the unsavoury connotations of the line “playing with myself”.

Single 21/9/92, also on ‘Pablo Honey’
With the second single's session deteriorating badly, Kolderie suggested diverting to a tune the band had practised earlier. “After it,” he recalls, "I'd said, 'Gee, that was good." I thought Thom said, 'That's a Scott Walker song.' So we walked out saying, 'The best song's a cover!' When it wasn't going too well, I said, 'Play that song again.' It wasn't a cover – he'd said, 'That's our Scott Walker song.’”
After gaining permission to record a third track from Keith Wozencroft, the A&R man who signed the group, they recorded 'Creep' (excepting retouched bass and vocal) in one take. “Everyone in the studio applauded when it was done,” Kolderie remembers. “Then it was, like, 'That was good, let's take a break'.”
By the time they reconvened to record the album, 'Creep' was slated as the next single, which meant swapping the word 'fucking' for 'very' and some lyrical retouching.
Kolderie: “The original words weren't too happening, something about a 'leg of lamb'. I remember saying to Thom, you've got to try it again, it's just not that strong.' At first he said, 'No, no, it's too late, I can't change it now.' So I said, 'You really should if this is the single.' Then he got this weird look on his face and went away for about 20 minutes. Then he had it.”
By now, Jonny's famous choking guitar crunch (a tick he used to check that all was working) was already in place. Recorded in the studio's ambient drum room with Telecaster and AC amp, the first was caught in one take. The second took 10 or 12 attempts.
“At the end of the few days,” Kolderie says, “we listened back to it and Thom turned to Jonny asking, 'What do you think?' Jonny just said, 'I think it's the best thing we've done in ages.' I remember thinking, 'Well, when did you do something better than this?”
The song was written by Thom while at Exeter University. “When I wrote it,” he said, “I was in the middle of a really really serious obsession. It lasted about eight months. And it was unsuccessful, which made it even worse. She knows who she is.”
The music was based around a staggeringly simple, endlessly repeated four-chord progression. The angst croon does bear traces of Scott Walker, but another rather less cred influence was evident in the “She ran away again” lines which mirrored The Hollies' Heart FM-friendly '70s hit 'The Air That I Breathe'.
Crystallising the quintessential teen experience of both wanting to belong and also wearing your difference with pride, the song perfectly showcased both Thom's and Jonny's gifts for snaring attentions. It sold 6000 copies before being deleted. For now.

B-side of ‘Creep’
Although it's an easy fact to forget in light of 'grunge fashion' and the Stone Temple Pilots, in 1992 American rock offered salvation to those believing the best music was born from passion and fury. But amidst the hordes of British also-rans (cf The Senseless Things) responding with half-cocked takes on 'Nevermind', Radiohead were often dismissed as home counties wannabes – despite, that is, their evident song-writing nous and peculiarly British humour.
Nevertheless, EMI A&R supreme Nick Gatfield decided to approach Paul Kolderie and Seal Slade – in-house producers for the then-crucial Boston indie scene – to provide his new siblings with a guitar sound to match those of their American influences. Impressed by a demo of 'Stop Whispering', the two agreed to work on the bands second single. Immediately in favour of the match when told the duo had worked with the Pixies, Radiohead only found out later that their credits also included Dinosaur Jr, The Miracle Legion and Buffalo Tom – most of their favourite bands, basically.
But the first track the producers were faced with – 'Inside My Head' – hardly augured well. “It even occurred to us,” Kolderie recalls, “that maybe they were trying to see what we could do with the weaker material. So, because nobody was really that inspired by ['Million Dollar Question' and 'Inside My Head'], we got bogged down in recording those two.”
'Inside My Head' was far from their strongest song. Essentially a Pixies backing track in search of a tune, it's only redeemed by an explosive Cobain-esque guitar solo.

B-side of ‘Creep’
When most bands get signed, excessive celebration is usually the first thing on their minds. For Thom, though, the occasion prompted thoughts of “'getting in a car and ramming the shop where I used to work. I just wanted to do that so badly.” One can only assume he was referring to Cult Clothing, the central Oxford shop where he spent some legendarily frustrating time working in the early '90s. More appealing than its predecessor, 'Million Dollar Question' addresses his destructive desire – combining Thom's fascination with cars and workplaces.
Chugging along upon a generic indie-rock riff, it rises above the ordinary only in the lush mid-tempo middle-eight that reinforces Kolderie's opinion that Colin's bass-playing was, at this stage, their most advanced musical asset.

B-side of ‘Creep’, also on ‘Pablo Honey’
Before taking a higher education-enforced break, the late '80s On A Friday would argue about the extent to which they were coming to resemble REM. This track harks back to those nascent days, its tugging folk-rock drone recalling early REM tracks like 'Green Grow The Rushes' and 'Camera', the autumnal Rickenbacker jangle amounting to an affectionate homage. Even in these warm surroundings, though, Thom's still playing power games with an ex-partner, here adopting the ever-popular 'I'm doing fine, better even' pose of the truly disconsolate.

Single 1/2/93, also on ‘Pablo Honey’
The follow-up to 'Creep' – before 'Creep' became anything to follow up. This swingeing song was partly inspired by the hysterical pretensions of Oliver Stone's 1991 biopic, The Doors. Of the ear-catching “grow my hair, I wanna be wanna be wanna be Jim Morrison” line, Thom recalls: “I just ranted that verse the day after I saw that film. It really wound me up, really upset me. It was like he was some sort of Arthurian legend or something.”
At the time, though, Thom was actually growing his hair to better fit the star mould, and the ambivalent lyric highlights both the vanity of the rock world and powerful delusion of invincibility that being in a band can provide.
“We had everyone in the place come in and play a track,” Kolderie recalls of the playful session. “Even the lady who was cooking the meals and the studio owner came in and played what they wanted. Some people just played feedback, Thom played a guitar with a coin. Everybody tried to do something wild and we mixed it together into a big collage."
While some critics at the time complained they could hear a resemblance to Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine's recent 'Do-Re-Mi' single, the coruscating stop-start power chords and the high tension bass recall Nirvana – although this single's flatly mixed guitars don't do well out of the comparison. If the trundling chorus is less exciting than the rabid verse – aided in the second verse by some dead-note guitar crunching – this scabrous single at least suggested they could really rawk rather than just rock.

B-Side of ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ single
Radiohead had already proved themselves to be adept musical magpies, and this song saw them plagiarising themselves, the verse emulating that of 'Prove Yourself '. The commodities rebellion of slacker culture is wryly referred to in lyrics about ripped jeans, skateboards and guns. Sluggish and catchy, it's enlivened by a pleasing example of the near-trademark Radiohead lift-off.

B-Side of ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ single
By this time the once-omnipresent shoegazing scene had, as it always threatened to do, folded in on itself. Geographically close, Radiohead were always spiritually miles away from vacant effects-merchants like Chapterhouse and Ride. Which makes this stylistic throwback – with the cathedrals of sound-effect here relayed as more of a chapel – somewhat confusing.
Featuring one of Thom's least rewarding lyrics, few will find the search for this worthwhile. On the plus side, the end does feature the sound of Colin humming.

‘Pablo Honey’ album track
A born B-side if ever there was one, this ersatz punk-rock track – with its unappealing terrace chorus and unconvincing sneering – is their debut album's greatest misfire. “Yeah, they got pilloried in the press for that one,” says Kolderie. “'I never saw that coming. I figured it was just a quick little punky thing for the album, but the critics picked on it in a big way.”
The lyrics, which share a social-circle-irritant theme with 'The Bends' track 'Just', only really serve to highlight the relative sophistication of Thom's other spite-filled lyrics. The freak-out climax, with its rabidly clanging piano and squiggles of feedback noise, is pleasingly awful.

‘Pablo Honey’ album track
At a time when most British music was maddeningly unambitious, 'Stop Whispering' revealed a band with Big Choruses, a vocalist who could actually raise his voice above a delicate whisper and not one, not two, but three guitars. Unsurprisingly, it incited Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge to take on the group's management.
But, during the album session, capturing the stadium-friendly potential proved tricky. Kolderie: “We tinkered with that quite a bit, trying to get an arrangement that worked. It was kind of a sprawling thing, and we weren't sure how long it should be or where the momentum was going.”
The problems remained unresolved, the repeated two-chord motif palling over the album version's five-minute-plus length. As if to compensate, Thom's voice blusters while the guitars get louder without doing anything very interesting. The slicker US version (which had to bear being a 'Creep' follow-up) has more grace and the good sense to stop at four minutes.
The song's lyrics are impressively dark and allusive. The “buildings say we spit on your face some more” image presages “Rows of houses all bearing down on me” on 'Street Spirit', while the line “the feeling is, that there's something wrong”, offers as apt a summary of the Radiohead canon as any.

‘Pablo Honey’ album track
Caught between indie ethic and Big Rock aesthetic, Thom agonised over the implications of the Parlophone record deal – and this capable track concerns the simultaneous feelings of freedom and helplessness it brought. Subsequent producer John Leckie claimed their first album was 'too noisy' and 'Ripcord' is certainly one song that does appear poorly served by the undistinguished guitar sound. Only at the climactic riff (again reminiscent of the Pixies) does this track rise above the pedestrian grime.

‘Pablo Honey’ album track
If all Radiohead's early songs were boiled down, 'Vegetable' – with its languidly tuneful verse, electric kick-off, impassioned chorus and vengeful, put-upon lyrics – would be the resulting stew. In “I will not control myself”, it contained another petulant slogan for the dispossessed masses. Ed has said that 'Pablo Honey' is “one of the most dreadfully sequenced records ever”. Putting this song before the similarly-patterned 'Prove Yourself' offers supporting evidence.

‘Pablo Honey’ album track
“Even though I might, even thought I try, I can't,” go the words, prophetically. And so it proved that this song about failing to surmount difficulties provided the lowliest drudge on the album.
“That was a real nightmare,” admits Kolderie. “We could never get it the right speed. I wanted it to be faster and everyone kept wanting it to be slower, we went back and forth. I had high hopes for that one and I don't really feel like it panned out that well.”
Ironically, considering its lethargic title and loosely rolling rhythms re called Kolderie-produced proto-slackers Dinosaur Jr, the American producers failed to get a satisfactory take and the band returned to an earlier Hufford-produced recording for the album – not the last time they'd return to an initial version after interminable tinkering.

‘Pablo Honey’ album track
Starting off like Latin-flavoured jazz before morphing into something closer in spirit to The Who, this song has a deeply unsettled feel – suitably enough for an album that never quite relaxes with itself. But if the music is obtuse, the words are an evocative distillation of profound unease. “Everything I touch turns to stone” is a worthy addition to Thom's bludgeoning canon of self-loathing lines.
At this stage, many suspected Radiohead were a reasonable group struggling to match their singer's exceptional vocal and lyrical gifts. There were enough hints, however, that they'd catch up soon enough.

Single 10/5/93
“Bollocks,” according to Ed, who should know. This shallow, gimmicky single sees them taking on Jam-like mod-pop - and it doesn't suit them. 'Pop Is Dead' was written as an “epitaph for 1992”, a time when record companies sought to maintain sales during a torpid UK music scene by pushing old stock, and when magazine journalists were desperately proclaiming just about anything – comedy, computer games, plants – to be the new rock'n'roll.
Shallow and short, it never transcends its contrived feel of Making A Statement. Released at a time when Suede were raising standards with their initial triad of classic singles, this flimsy 45 helped label Radiohead as makeweights.

B-Side of ‘Pop Is Dead’ single
Not many lyricists would adopt the voice of a Third World town in thrall to a neo-imperialist multinational. But Thom was about to prove that he wasn't like many lyricists. Marking his first foray beyond misfit introspection, he appears to draw on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ magic realist classic One Hundred Years Of Solitude.
This brilliantly effective song (vastly superior to the A-side) has, though, had a strange secretive existence, appearing originally in acoustic form before reappearing as a potent band performance on 1995’s ‘Criminal Justice Axe The Act’ compilation. The moment when Thom leaps into falsetto (at the end of the lines “everything’s underground, we gotta dig it up somehow”) again Jonny’s spidery guitar line is a great Radiohead Moment – skillfully inferring, once again, something is very wrong.

On ‘Creep’ reissue, 6/9/93
They were never ones to make things easy for themselves, but in 1999 very little that happened to Radiohead didn't cause immense torment – hurled, as they were, into a promotional merry-go-round that lasted the best part of a year due to the slow-burning international success of 'Creep'. This sluggish attack on the meet'n'greet culture they were forced to undergo (ironically the flipside of That Song's UK reissue) is very 1993 Radiohead – bored, depressed, snickered and utterly unenamoured of rock life. Jonny does his best with a fluent, wiry guitar line to breathe life into a limply recorded song that fails to transcend the negative emotion it expresses. Its bitterly cyclical attack on the moronic nature of the music industry fits into a tradition established by Pink Floyd in tracks like 'Have A Cigar' and 'Welcome To The Machine'). Comparisons to the public school-educated '70's prog-rockers were going to become an irritatingly regular feature in years to come.

Live version on ‘Creep’ reissue/B-side of ‘High & Dry’/’Planet Telex’ (Mogadon mix)
Endlessly touring the US proved damaging to the band's creativity – and it didn't do too much for their sense of style, either. By the end of 1993, they looked every bit the LA rock stars, with long-hair, unbuttoned shirts and medallions adopted by all (except Phil with the hair). Thom in particular had adopted a shocking platinum frightwig affair that made him resalable a member of Motley Crue.
Entering RAK Studios in January 1994 with producer John Leckie (who had just left The Stone Roses to complete 'Second Coming' without him), Radiohead were looking to reestablish themselves in their own and others' eyes. That their second album didn't appear for another 14 months indicates that this princess was far from straightforward.
Initially to be recorded were four songs – 'The Bends', 'Killer Cars', 'Nice Dream' and 'Sulk' – of which one ultimately would be picked as the much-needed follow-up hit to 'Creep'. Eventually passed over (possibly because it had already appeared in live form on the previous single), this could have been the one. If we momentarily disregard the lyrics concerning a fantasy of automotive-related death, 'Killer Cars' is straight-ahead, swaggering American rock – superbly executed, catchy as hell and featuring a fantastic one-note guitar solo to boot.

B-Side of ‘My Iron Lung’ single CD1
After choosing 'My Iron Lung' as their next single, the grotto was to be further sidetracked from cracking on with the album by the need to record six B-sides for the formatted double CD. “Being B-sides, of course you don't want them to be too good,” recalls Leckie. “So we went from trying to make a big hit to trying to make something not too great when what we really wanted to do was the album. That caused a lot of, 'What the fuck are we doing here?' kind of thoughts.”
The juddering, insistent rhythm and descending chords were eerily similar to the Manics' 'Kevin Carter', released two years later. The lyrics, concerning such matters as “a can of brickdust worms” and “police tread carefully escaped from the zoo” are willfully surreal.

B-Side of ‘My Iron Lung’ single CD1
With an initial aquatic atmosphere recalling Tim Buckley (one of Thom's vocal heroes), this enigmatic song is the highlight of the '...Lung' B-sides, a hidden illustration of a rock group in a moment of transition towards something slightly more avant-garde.
Thom once claimed he was intimidated in the presence of beautiful women to the point where he would “leave as soon as possible or hide until they leave”, and this song's desolate lyrics claim that “A beautiful girl can turn your world into dust.”

Single, 26/9/94, also on ‘The Bends’, 13/3/95
Radiohead always admitted that they were, to some extent, following in Nirvana's footsteps. They didn't, however, imagine this would entail coming to see your big crossover hit as a soul-sapping curse. Its popularity made them, in the US, “those 'Creep' guys” and in the UK, simply 'Big In The US'. Hardly surprising that Thom eventually rechristened the song 'Crap'.
So if 'Pop Is Dead' was an epitaph for 1992, this corrosive retort served as its equivalent for the following year's fruitless attempts to interest people in other songs, thoughts of breaking up and – worst of all – a tour with Tears For Fears. Fittingly, for a song borne out of hatred for the position it had landed them in, 'My Iron Lung' was chosen to follow 'Creep' up the hit parades of the world.
According to Hufford, the first few months in the studio were “fraught, to say the least”. Then on 27 May 1994 came an MTV show at London's Astoria. “That was a kind of turning point,” believes Leckie. “They'd been touring, doing songs from 'Pablo Honey'. Performing new songs gave them their confidence back.”
The band decided it couldn't improve on the extraordinary intensity of that night's note-perfect live rendition of 'My Iron Lung' and so, incredibly rarely even for a 'studio' recording, only the vocals were overdubbed.
'My Iron Lung' didn't follow 'Creep' into the Top Ten, stalling at 24, but it did act as a kind of catharsis. After a year of drudgery and drought, this disturbing slice of art-metal proved they were electrifyingly alive.
The band's performance is astonishing. The verse features intricate interplay between the Arabian-sounding main guitar line, the feedback and the menacingly pumping bass guitar before the hyperkinetic chorus – essentially, Nirvana's 'Heart-Shaped Box' with jump-leads attached – launches into a melee of distorted vocals and murderous guitars. If Thom's words previously were standard teen angst, they were now a fully-fledged declaration of war against the world, high on its own cynical disgust. As purpose-built Big Hit Singles go, it was hardly 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.

B-Side of ‘My Iron Lung’ single CD2
If Thom's revelling in his difference had previously bordered on misanthropy, this lyric turns a corner and participates later songs like 'No Surprises' by expressing sympathy for the masses. As with The Jam's cultishly-loved 'Smithers Jones', the song features a “low corporate” who “just got crushed to fit”, and its uncomplicated, agreeably pounding strains are the nearest to straight rock these largely experimental sessions produced. Its alternately ascending/descending chord-sequences make it a close relative of 'Killer Cars'.

B-Side of ‘My Iron Lung’ single CD2
The first Radiohead release to have been produced by Nigel Godrich, the young engineer who took over the sessions when Leckie was tied up with mixing duties, this unprepossessing postposition shares the same murdering beat as 'The Trickster'. The guitar riff demonstrates Jonny's increasing interest in jazz and obtuse improvisation, but any textural intricacies are spoilt by an occasionally intruding rhythm guitar that conforms to early '90s indie standards of dullness.

B-Side of ‘My Iron Lung’ single CD1
Though rarely resembling Barry White vocally, even by Thom's own standards the notes he reaches here are spectacularly high. While the fingerpicked acoustic guitaring resembles Nick Drake, the melody is Eastern in flavour - approaching the '60s 'raga' style of The Beatles and The Byrds – making for an air of exotic seclusion. The title is taken from a line in Philip Larkin's Sad Steps, a poem about the desolation brought on by old age, a subject Thom has touched on in songs like 'Bones' and 'A Reminder'.

B-Side of ‘My Iron Lung’ single CD2
The striking, oppressively sad tone of this voice-and-guitar piece puts it up there with 'Fitter Happier' as the Radiohead tune not to put on at a party.
With the feel of an ancient folk song, it signals a band increasingly unmoored from familiar trad-rock habits. The image of the figure lying in bed with “everything starting to die” all around him comes from a period of dispiriting lethargy that hit Thom on returning home after touring the world in 1993 – he couldn't be bothered to knock a hole in the ice on the fish pond so his two fish died.
The desolation is only slightly alleviated by the everyday title which, speculation must suggest, could derive from a girlfriend's jibe about the returning rock star's slovenly domestic habits.

Double A-side single, 17/2/95, also on ‘The Bends’
No-one deserves to be called the New U2, but Radiohead really didn't help themselves with this big old ballad which practically came with a sign around its neck saying ‘Wave lighter now’. Dating back to Thom's college band Headless, who performed the song at frenetic pace, it was one of Thom's first meditations on the merits and trappings of fame.
“It was never on the list and only mentioned right at the end when the album was put together,” says Leckie. “They felt they had too many slow acoustic songs on the album and thought that they'd save it for the next one.”
The demo, recorded two years previously, was retained for the album and the group had to learn it again before reintroducing it to their live set. This undoubtedly pleasant, if slightly glutinous song suffers for being placed in sequence before the rather more startling 'Fake Plastic Trees'. Indeed, the traditional nature undersold the startlingly original contents of the forthcoming album – which couldn't be said for its fellow double A-side.

Double A-side single, 17/2/95, also on ‘The Bends’
With the band's confidence crushed by endless album sessions, every small breakthrough became crucial. One such moment occurred when the studio chef had a night off, meaning producer and band visited a Greek restaurant in Camden with a fistful of record company cash.
“'Killer Cars' had this funky drum bit at the end which wasn't quite working,” Leckie recalls.
“We'd had quite a few bottles of wine - they don't do all that sort of thing too much, generally - and came up with the idea of looping this track. After the meal, we steamed back to the studio.”
With three drum loops spliced together, Jonny playing delayed piano and Ed providing the broad guitar chords in the chorus, the backing track was recorded in an hour and a half.
“We did it on the spot, spontaneous creativity. It was fantastic,” Leckie says. “I was shocked and relieved. At 2am, I said to Thom, 'You'd better do the vocals, it's time to go to bed,' and he just came up with them on the spot.”
Futuristic and – a first for Radiohead – even funky, this astonishing performance pointed the way not just for the forthcoming album, but the one after that as well.

B-Side of ‘High And Dry’/’Planet Telex’ CD1
By the time they left RAK Studios, Radiohead were concerned that their next album was becoming too overblown and heavy. According to Ed, one rejected track – containing backs of bombastic guitars and strings – resembled Guns N' Roses' 'November Rain'. The bombastic riffing of 'Maquiladora' presumably did for its album place. The words, describing a post-holocaust landscape, hark back to Thom's very first lyrics, 'Mushroom Cloud', written when he was 11.

Next month: genius! Inside ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’. Out 1 Nov.