Before Radiohead delivered some of the most excellent music of the 1990s and beyond, they needed a good trial-and-error time period of schooling in music, albeit professionally. Yes, this isn’t reported to be the greatest Radiohead album ever. Despite that, this does contain their biggest ever hit, Creep and is a good take on the prevailing trends musically at the time (USA based Grunge and some other interesting early 1990s trends). In any case, this is Radiohead’s debut album and it should be worth listening to, despite all this. Let’s jump in and do so.
You launches this album with some clean arpeggios and a rather simple, Grunge laden tune. This is a fairly simple and good, but not great, listen. It has some powerful drumming but this is clearly not the greatest music that Radiohead ever did. However, despite this, one can appreciate the effort in this song. Thom Yorke sings in a more typical Rock way than his trademark falsetto, complete with some borderline screaming throughout. A good song, yet not anything absolutely artistically mindblowing, this is a decent start to this album. A nice effort, even if this music isn’t as good as later Radiohead. It ends with a load of sustained chords.
Creep is the big hit from the album. Beginning with clean guitars, nice drumbeats and a good musical ambience, this is a definite improvement on the first song. This is a definitely great listen, although fairly simple, it is a really good tune that has some unique suspense and wonderful singing by Thom Yorke. This is a cool Pop/Rock masterpiece that still sounds good and punchy, it is also a great Noise/Grunge music masterpiece of a song straight from 1993. Sure, it is not the artistry of OK Computer or Kid A, but this is a magical slice of great music. An awesome and excellent tune with pure emotional suspense throughout, “You’re so fucking special,” is sung here in an aggressive way, and this short song does impact the listener very well. Good tune.
How Do You? begins with a Punk Rock sort of feel, with multitracked and white noise style guitars. Thom Yorke sings in a very nasal way on this song, and although this is not the best Radiohead song or album out there, it is a genuinely good effort. Simple, anarchic and finding their feet, this is a good piece of alternative 1990s music. There is a drum laden breakdown in the second half, right towards the awful sounding ending. Different.
Stop Whispering begins with some good clean guitar riffs, pounding drums and an optimistic ambience for a Radiohead song. Some repeated lyrics are here, launching into another good alternative sounding song. This is simple, yet aggressive sounding music that doesn’t sound just like Radiohead at their prime, but it does the job. The production isn’t the best here, it sounds as though everything is squashed into a box musically. Still, Radiohead shows some decent promise as a musical group, and the guitar solo present in this song is excellent. An interesting and enjoyable listen with Punk style Grunge guitars, it sounds as though Radiohead were doing their best to create music, even if at this stage it is not overly comfortable sounding nor original in a musical sense. Towards the end, this song speeds up and gets fairly chaotic musically. Better than what the critics of the time were saying about the group, although they hadn’t totally hit their stride, this is good for what it is. A wonderfully screamed vocal is towards the end, and this is a good five minute long song. Nice work. The ending is chaotic.
Thinking About You begins with some dual-tracked acoustic guitars and a good musical ambience present. Thom Yorke’s voice seems better suited to this sort of arrangement rather than the loud and Punk sounding guitars, typical of the Grunge era. The lyrics are pretty awful about solo masturbation, despite the fact that this is a relatively good song. This is not an awful album, it is Radiohead just getting started musically. There is a subtle slide guitar solo present, and this song is fairly forgettable otherwise, despite the fact it is okay musically, the lyrics let it down.
Anyone Can Play Guitar is really terrible and awful at the start. The intro has some truly nasty guitar work. Soon enough, this song gets going with Punk guitars and a sound that frankly, could have been remixed. It sounds as though Radiohead have the wrong idea musically at this point and this music is simple, melodic and confused. Still, this is a good lyrical devotion to the art of playing a musical instrument, namely the guitar, which is a reminder that if you apply yourself to an instrument, you too can play the guitar. “Grow my hair…I wanna be like Jim Morrison,” sings Thom Yorke. This is okay, but not tremendous. A good ode to music all the same.
Ripcord begins with some clean guitars, before alternating between dirty guitar riffs in the usual shift-in-dynamics Grunge era way. Again, another good song is present here without sounding hugely exceptionally great. This album comes across as a very much early 1990s statement that, although isn’t the greatest Radiohead statement ever in an album, there is a definite promise musically. It’s better than some of what Blur and other early 1990s British Rock bands were doing, so in retrospect, this isn’t too bad. It is just not a perfect album to listen to. A good effort, although not a great one for this group. The descending riff towards the end is cool.
Vegetable begins with some nice sounding intro guitar riffs, with a calmer sounding Thom Yorke vocal and a sense that this is an improvement as a song, which it is. This is a pretty and decent tune that actually is fairly underrated from this album. It may not be a perfect album of art bordering on a concept album that Radiohead would be known for later on, but it’s okay. Hey, Punk bands from the USA have done far worse than this music. It’s just not what people would expect. Nonetheless, a good and interesting listen. It just sounds a bit more different than usual. Nice tune, although some of the guitar work could have been bettered.
Prove Yourself begins with some loose overdriven guitar parts, great singing from Thom Yorke, stating “I’m better off dead,” before Radiohead launch into a piece that sounds like 1980s Indie music. Again, this is fairly monotonous music, it sounds like Radiohead limiting themselves musically, as though they were simply going along with what a record company and what trends were dictating to them at the time. Fairly ordinary, this music isn’t overly great. A sustained vocal scream is towards the end though, another okay sounding song.
I Can’t begins with some strange guitar parts and is another Grungy listen from Radiohead. This song is a little more melodic sounding, but again, is more of the same. Despite the fact that Creep is an excellent song, this album sounds fairly average in terms of musical quality. Nonetheless, it is a good effort for a song, just nothing overly memorable. It does sound like Radiohead were attempting to be a fairly ordinary Punk/Grunge band on this album, rather than something truly phenomenal. Thankfully, that would eventually change over time. This has a lyric about not making in what one tries to do. There is an interesting instrumental section towards the end, but otherwise, another hit-and-miss effort. A good song to hear, but maybe not a great one.
Lurgee has a slow section of guitar parts at the start which sound a little nicer. Thom Yorke sings in a calmer, more reassuring voice. This is a bit different to the rest of the album, although it still does not match Creep. The album comes across as a very good effort, but nothing truly sensational. It is not a classic album but isn’t outright bad. Anyway, enjoyable for what it is. A more mellow sounding song, this has a primarily instrumental second half. Different, this is a better effort.
Blow Out is the last song on this album. It begins with some different guitar parts, some lush playing and a tempered backbeat. This is more mellow than much of what came before. Sure, even Radiohead dismiss Pablo Honey today, but this is a good start for a band such as them. It may not be by any means perfect, but these songs are very good. Anyway, the Punky Grunge stuff eventually emerges in this song, and we eventually get going. The second half has some slightly different musical arrangements, which is a bit strange for this album. Some awful guitar parts are present here, mind you, and it sounds as though the band had not thought through the music at hand. The second half sounds very weird and not that good. Anyway, a rather ordinary finish to a fairly average album, this could have been chopped out of the band’s list of songs. A rather cruddy song.
This is a good start for a band that sounded as though they did not know where they would be going on their musical path in 1993. However, Radiohead could have done far better than this recording, and they knew it. Still, Creep is a quintessentially popular song that has been on many people’s playlists. Is this album worth hearing? Only if you are a hardcore Radiohead fan, otherwise, forget it.
A good start but not a classic album.