Harrowdown Hill Single, Maxi
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THOM YORKE Harrowdown Hill (2006 UK limited edition 3-track CD single - widely regarded as one of Thoms standout solo tracks dealing with the death of Dr David Kelly the MoD scientist whose body was found on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire;includes an extended mix plus exclusive recording The Drunkk Machine [unavailable elsewhere] gatefold card picture sleeve)
Top Customer Reviews
I actually bought the album 'Eraser' with this song on for cheaper...
I feel rather annoyed by that!!
Oh... But wait... here comes the crying synths, the limping drum samples and the quivering and wet vocals that have become so instantly recognisable. Nothing's worth anything anymore.
Despite the constant barrage of blues, greys and scratches that this man swabs all over you, he is a master of creating memorable components that barely anyone else could fit together into one short song. It would be easy to forget the grace in which this is delivered, as Thom essentially has no happy face and therefore halves his emotional range straight down the middle. But like a lot of successful artists with a comfortable safe haven for creating music, he doesn't need the sun and slivers away quite, err, happily.
Equally, he is now an artist that can't do wrong. He could release a long gust of wind out of his rear end and people would see it as melancholy genius's ode to the lost souls of forgotten civil wars and yesterday's fry-up. But for everyone, the spotlight remains on Radiohead, and with a release like this it is easy to see why as it is unnecessary to place a marking between the two - Thom is Thom, after all.
Written about the suicide of whistleblower Doctor David Kelly, the song's title takes it's name from where Doctor Kelly's body was found.
As with most of the eraser material, Thom's lyrics are on top form - thought prevoking, vicious, hungry.
Must like the other album tracks, Thom and renowned producer Nigel Godrich have carefully layered this sandwich of beats, blips, bumbs and touches of reverb giving it a eerily spaceous atmosphere.
Despite it's sheer brilliance, the sad truth is that this single will not get the airplay it deserves nor a credible position within the corrupt singles chart.
I have not heard either of the featured b-sides and this review is based firmly on the title track "Harrowdown hill".
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The title song opens with some strums on a guitar, right before a shimmering wave of electronica goes right over it. And then Yorke starts crooning, "Don't walk the plank like I did/You will be dispensed with/When you've become inconvenient... They just want me gone/they want me gone."
The melody rapidly becomes a weary, slightly paranoid-sounding pop song, with solemn organ-like synth and delicate piano making it sound almost like an electronic dirge. But listen to the lyrics, and you'll hear some serious Yorke anger: He announces intensely that, "We think the same things at the same time/There are too many of us/So you can't count!"
If it sounds political, it is -- it's about Dr. David Kelly, a man who allegedly suicide after his political evidence sparked off a massive scandal and the government. But Yorke asks, "Did I fall/or was I pushed?"
Yorke tries out a more experimental, woo-woo sound in "Drunk Machine." It sounds pretty much the way the title suggests -- a sort of drowsier song full of weird noises, crackling and sharp beats. Then it builds in intensity like a haunted house imploding on itself.
Finally there's the extended mix of "Harrowdown Hill," which is still haunting, but somehow just not as satisfying as the original song. It's got more synth than is good for it -- especially those undulating waves -- and loses the organic edge that kept the original grounded. It's pretty, but not really moving.
This little single is dark from beginning to end, and even the addition of some bubbly beats can't take away from the frustration, fear and haunting quality in Thom Yorke's lyrics. "I can't take their pressure/No one cares if you live or die/They just want me gone," he murmurs over the beats.
And Yorke has a way with electronica, which seems to be his forte, a la "Kid A" from Radiohead. But where "Kid A" was chilly and spacey, this is dark and haunting. The undulating synth is annoying, but the sharp beats and experimental flourishes are beautifully done, and never sound cheesy or dated.
The "Harrowdown Hill" single is pretty brief, but deeply affecting. Can't wait to see what Yorke's next single will be.