Top positive review
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Great version of an OK album
on 22 April 2009
They started off as pale Pixies clones on the coattails of the now-reviled wave of British Indie. Radiohead could so easily have ended up like Kingmaker, one hit wonders rubbing shoulders with Sultans of Ping, and endlessly playing "Creep" to half-full 1500 seaters inbetween day jobs.
On the strength of the debut, the underwhelming "Pablo Honey", Radiohead were one who, it seemed, had only a handful of good songs, an EP squeezed to LP length."Pablo Honey" is, for its time, an OK lp. But Kingmakers "Sleepwalking" was better.
And you know it.
"Pablo Honey" wears its influences brazenly on its sleeves. It wants to be The Pixies, crossbred with Dinosaur Jr and a touch of Steve Albini. But it isn't. Some of the songs simply put, are nothing but juvenalia. "Ripcord", "Vegetable", and others are forgettable, scant, empty, shallow impersonations. They are, in a word, rubbish.
Inside Radiohead, lay a pretty good debut. Sadly, great songs such as "Banana Co" and "Yes, I Am" were relegated to B-sides, and the versions and recordings chosen for the album were bland and monotone. Not only that, but the sequencing is all over the place. There's some good songs here, but not enough to justify an album.
Thankfully, EMI have chosen to exercise their contractual rights and exploit the work. This reissue is certainly far more useful than the recent 'Best of'. The second disc captures every B-side and some radio sessions in order of release. And whilst this completely lacks any narrative - its just a bunch of good songs in a random order - the songs themselves here, some of them are fabulous. The aforementioned "Banana Co" is simply a fabulous song, head and shoulders with any of their other work.
And some are rubbish : the middle section consists of a slew of live tracks, largely chosen to pad out multi-formatted releases of 12" singles. They weren't much good then and they aren't now.
Thankfully, the DVD offers much better value, with all the promo videos from the era, and most of the "Live At The Astoria" DVD. In total, though, it is a fabulous package for a Radiohead nutter : every song from their earlier era, alongside some tasty and unreleased radio sessions and a brace of live stuff on a DVD. It is a value package that tidies up most of the early years in about 55 songs of joy, most of which you may have never heard before.