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The Music and Art of "Radiohead" (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series) Paperback – 1 Jan 2005

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The book you have in your hand is a collection of academic essays about Radiohead, a five-member music group from Oxford, England. Read the first page
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Joseph Tate, You Are a Delight 8 Jun 2005
By Unicorn Insurance - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having read Mr. Tate's article concerning Radiohead's antivideos published in the Postmodern Culture Journal of Interdisciplinary Criticism (Sept. 2002) as well as following his website Pulk-Pull*, the content of this book does not surprise me and was well worth the wait. Joseph Tate intellectually analyzes the audio/visual metaphors Radiohead presents regularly with the unwavering devotion and curiosity of a chemist in pursuit of truth. The book is well-written and an overall fantastic attempt to further understand the enigmatic peculiarity that is Radiohead.

P.S. I enjoyed your listmania entry Sr. Tate
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes Interesting but More Often Overly Academic (i.e., Dull) 24 Sep 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alex Ross's fascinating Radiohead profile (The New Yorker, 2001) quotes drummer Phil Selway as saying, "Really, we don't want people twiddling their goatees over our stuff," and yet goatee-twiddling is exactly what you get in this anthology of academic essays on the band's music and art. Bottom line: if you are an academic and you genuinely enjoy reading academic writing, you might enjoy this volume; if not, you are not likely to.

As a Radiohead fan and someone with a background in music performance and musicology, I'm delighted that "serious writing" about Radiohead exists, but I'm also disappointed that I didn't get to learn more cool stuff about my all-time favorite rock group. While each essay's thesis is intriguing, most of the supportive material (the bulk of the book) is dry and pedantic. Few paragraphs are without obligatory references to the usual suspects (Kant, Benjamin, Adorno, Derrida, Foucault, and Barthes--is that all academics do? state something sort of interesting and then "prove" it by citing marginally related works by established academics?), hackneyed expressions like "What is at stake is ...," and not-really-real words like "invagination" and "vocalic." (Yes, I know they're in the dictionary, but would you use them?)

That being said there are definitely a few standouts. "Kid Adorno" by Curtis White starts out in a deadpan academic voice complete with discussions of Adorno's aesthetic theories only to break out into a completely subjective screed as it takes on Nick Hornby's notoriously negative review of the Radiohead album Kid A (The New Yorker, 2000). I actually laughed out loud throughout the second half of this piece. In breaking out of the academic-writing mode, White's piece functions equally as a defense of Kid A and a critique of academic writing. I would love to read more pieces like this one. I also enjoyed Paul Lansky's "My Radiohead Adventure" because it's the composer's first-person memoir of writing a piece of electronic art music (sampled 30 years later in Radiohead's "Idioteque") and a description of how Radiohead came to use Lanksy's piece and how they composed "Idioteque." This is the type of content I was hoping to find more of. I admit it; I was looking for something more journalistic, like Alex Ross's New Yorker piece.

In summary, this book does what it sets out to do. I like the way it discusses the band's videos and album art as well as its music. It's just that the writing is dully academic in its style and approach. And if you've already done any amount of serious thinking about Radiohead, you've probably already figured most of this stuff out for yourself.
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