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Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend [Album Review]

Mansard Roof / Oxford Comma / A-Punk / Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa / M79 / Campus / Bryn / One (Blake’s Got A New Face) / I Stand Corrected / Walcott / Kids Don’t Stand A Chance

Sorry its been a while guys! Have a review!

The entire world has contributed to the Vampire Weekend sound. We journey through Africa via England, then across Europe, before popping into the home of Stephen Malkmus for a pot of tea. Suffice to say, I can’t think of another band that sounds quite like Vampire Weekend, particularly not an American band from punkish guitar haven, New York. Vampire Weekend are educated guys though and education can destroy your punk-rock roots from the word go. When you have a singer that occasionally, and rather disturbingly, sounds like Sting, what can you do? You hire a string section, go Paul Simon and name check Soweto and Peter Gabriel and do the soukous African sound rather delightfully. You write about grammar and campuses yet manage not to sound like Weezer. Phew. My first thoughts upon listening to the album was Are these guys the American ‘British Sea Power? It’s a valid comparison but then the Pavement influences come in through the slightly lo-fi sound. To confuse matters, the lyrics are obtuse and intellectual and the guitars range from glorious African sounds to classical themes, supported by string sections as and where appropriate. Quite an intoxicating mix!

The eleven songs present fly past in a nifty thirty-one minutes. This alone is a refreshing aspect of the album. ‘Blake’s Got A New Face’ is a good place to start if you want something ‘typical’ to represent the sound of the album. Guitar and percussion threaten to be 50s rock n roll. Keyboard sounds threaten to be 80s new wave. The singer goes through his Sting impression, the backing vocals are pure traditional African world music, a touch of Violent Femmes for seasoning, stick in the oven for just ten minutes and out it pops, done. ‘Walcott’ is an exciting mix of that upside down tortoise shell African drum, plus real drums, plus a two hundred mile an hour pop/rock rush. The closing ‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance’ is a lovely little story-telling type tune. Classical strings weave in and out the instrumental sections quite beautifully. I’m getting excited listening to this stuff, how long have we had to wait for a band being able to write actual hummable melodies yet also present a new sound? Vampire Weekend isn’t deep and heavy, yet has these intelligent touches, such as the lyrics and the strings. Ah, the music for ‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance’ makes me grin, the simple main melody then all the little melodies sparkling around it. Heavenly.

Further highlights? Just the opening tune is enough to indicate something different is going on. A rock band performing with some driving percussion aka Joe Meek, weird sounds abound and Randy Newman / Van Dyke Parks seemingly get involved in the lyrics and vocals. ‘M79’ is this weird medieval thing, only with funky bass lines and very silly, happy melodies. ‘Oxford Comma’ is almost normal, yet those glorious African guitar sounds shine through. Finally, ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ really demonstrates those Paul Simon ‘Graceland’ influences well, right down to the vocal intonations. ‘Vampire Weekend’ have created such a fun album! True, there are not exactly oodles of song-writing craft here, yet repeat playability is very high indeed all the same. Two words, buy it.


Jeff Buckley – Grace [Album Review]

Mojo Pin / Grace / Last Goodbye / Lilac Wine / So Real / Hallelujah / Lover, You Should’ve Come Over / Corpus Christi Carol / Eternal Life / Dream Brother

So sadly Jeff Buckley’s only official and complete studio album. Released in 1994, three years later he’d drink some wine, go for a swim and never come back. In the immediate aftermath of his death, it wasn’t apparent what sort of loss his musical talent really would actually prove to be. ‘Grace’ had been critically acclaimed but was, after all, only his debut album. The fact that many singers since have been described as bearing his influence just goes to show how good this one album really was. His voice could go from a whisper to a roar but he never really showed off with his singing – despite having one of the finest voices of a generation or even all time. Musically, there are no obvious melodies rather shifting moods, tempos and intensities. The lyrics are full of a search for redemption and all about love, loss and faith. The result is this. ‘Grace’.

Opening ‘Mojo Pin’ displays exactly what this album is all about. A quiet introduction, that swooning voice, a beautiful wordless sound. Whispered words. The guitars begin to take on a rock hue and the voice continues. A mention of ‘black beauty’, ‘first love’ and then the wordless vocal returns. We have beautiful lilting guitar in the quieter sections, rock guitar in the ‘chorus’ parts. He is certainly backed with empathy by this group of musicians. One of the keys to this record is the atmosphere is maintained. The flow of songs is perfect and beautiful. ‘Mojo Pin’ flows into ‘Grace’ the title song. The vocal is a sheer beauty, a thing of wonder. ‘I’m not afraid to die’ goes one part of the lyric. This song actually sounds more commercial than some of the others here. A good counterpart to the heavily atmospheric opening song. An amazingly strong album opening sequence is completed with ‘Last Goodbye’. This was released as a single and brought him to a wider audience which i think is great. The mood of the song is all devotional love mixed in the possibility of loss ‘this is our last embrace, must I dream and always see your face’. Beautiful words. The chorus is absolutely thrilling with rock guitars and his voice sailing over the top, soaring higher in tone as if reaching for the heavens. A wondrous moment. A string section pops in. I usually get tearful and joyous at the same time listening to this song. Brilliant, no other word will do.

There are no obvious weak points on the album at all. He took his time with the recording process, changing, perfecting. The performance is everything. ‘Lilac Wine’ is all performance. A tender and pretty vocal amid slow shifting bass and delicate guitar. ‘So Real’ repeats the quiet/loud formula of ‘Last Goodbye’ but with significantly more Rock thrown in. A guitar sounds like a buzzsaw at one point. The louder sections are as intense as hell and the other vocals are whispered, quietly caressed. ‘Lover You Should Come Over’ has great melodic moments and again, beautiful vocal parts. Gospel influenced vocals come in towards the end.

The second half of the album isn’t easy going actually. This isn’t an album that will immediately reveal its charms and delights first few listens. ‘Dream Brother’ and especially ‘Corpus Christi Carol’ are all atmospheres and shifting moods. The melody isn’t obvious, it needs teasing out. Melody is there, a good half of it at least is provided by his vocals yet some what lacking in the instruments. All your attention will focus on THAT voice. Such a sheer presence. Closing ‘Dream Brother’ does some interesting musical things. Jeff was a huge fan of English group The Cocteau Twins and some of the guitars do sound a bit Cocteau Twins on this song. A very good song actually. The centrepiece of the album for many is his version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. Not the first person to cover the song and its such a good song anyway, he could hardly fail. A single guitar and Jeff Buckley’s vocal is all that’s present. A minimal stripped back performance but with such a spiritual, devotional vocal. It really will bring a tear to your eye. ‘Grace’ is a wonderful album. It has stood the test of time and always was going to. As I said, its appeal is slow burning. Give it time, listen to it. Its an album that deserves to be listened to and paid attention to. It’s a beautiful record and what people forget is just how awesome a debut it is. One of my personal favorites.

Pulp – Different Class [Album Review]

Mis-Shapes / Pencil Skirt / Common People / I Spy / Disco 2000 / Live Bed Show / Something Changed / Sorted For E’s & Wizz / F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E / Underwear / Monday Morning / Bar Italia

So everyone was talking Blur & Oasis, but suddenly this third ‘force’ emerges in the battle, and for some, eclipsed either of the aforementioned bands. Although they’d broke the charts with ‘His N Hers’ and its attendant singles, nothing troubled the top five. ‘Common People’ reached number two, ‘Mis-Shapes’ and ‘Disco 2000’ both became anthems of a kind. I remember thinking to myself when the first time i heard ‘Common People’, that this was it, it was perfect. As good as Pulp were gonna get, or at least as big as they were gonna get. Record Company guys have a tendency to grow blinkers around their good senses when a group suddenly grasps hold of the zeitgeist and has a big, big seller. Way back in the mists of time, shortly after MC Hammer had finished promotional duties and touring his massive selling ‘U Can’t Touch This’ and it’s parent album, I witnessed a TV program which featured an interview with a spokesmen for MC Hammer’s record label. They projected his sales into the future based on his current sales and ‘growth’. How can you project the next three albums after only one, anyway hmm? They had some ridiculous figure, that in 1995, MC Hammer would be selling 50,000,000 albums, ‘based on our current figures and projections’. Well, it was some figure as ridiculous as that, in any case. And they were serious!  MC Hammer, didn’t they make a statue of him in every capitol city in the world? Man, did he get nonsensically big!! Stupidity aside, what has any of this got to do with Pulp? Well, they peaked. You can draw a line through their career, and it peaks with ‘Common People’ and peaks with ‘Different Class’. And it was always going to be that way, at least from a commercial stand-point. It was foreseen, although unfortunately not by anybody at Island Records, suffice to say. ‘Different Class’ includes the three songs I mentioned of course, each one of which will stand the test of time if only as classic examples of britpop in years and years to come. These songs define that era. ‘Mis-Shapes’ is well produced, striking and clever and playful lyrically, and musically lots of fun. It builds and builds, and reaches a ‘Pulp’ disco/retro/groovy chorus, and everything is well with the world. ‘Common People’ arrives third, ‘Pencil Skirt’ has the unhappy task of breaking up two such defining Pulp songs, and does so by representing itself as a very minor, understated little lullaby of sorts. The near six minute long classic of a kind ‘Common People’ is followed by the far more interesting, although far less commercial ( no single release here ), ‘I Spy’. Scott Walker influence to the fore, Pulp’s usual charging keyboards and rhythms abound, a wonderful lyric and vocal holds everything together. The songs stops, starts, sweeps through its different sections with an ease that Pulp made seem, well, easy. Commercial success AND artistic ambition? Both merge together for ‘Different Class’. It worked. Perfectly.

‘Disco 2000’ was all about ‘NOW!’, thus even later in time, it already doesn’t quite seem right. Well, it’s dated! It’s tweleve years AFTER the year 2000. What are we all gonna do? Go back in time? Pulp held the zeitgeist, at least in the UK and parts of Europe, they did. Who knows what the US were listening to in 1995, the year of Britpop? Does anybody remember? ‘Live Bed Show’ is seedy yet slinky and smooth, ‘Somethings Changed’ swings around it’s little guitar figure most attractively. The controversial ‘Sorted For E’s And Wizz’ still makes a spine chill somewhere, every time it’s heard, i’m sure of that. A selection of lovely keyboard sounds, very clever and funny lyrics  by the J-dog that met the populace head on. Still works to this day, actually. Something intelligent is going on. ‘Feeling Called Love’ is a weak link in the ‘Different Class’ chain, the only song that doesn’t really work or hold itself together seemingly effortlessly. ‘Underwear’ is a sheer glory, the kind of soaring, romantic ( of a decidedly lo-rent, Northern England kind ) song that Pulp had given us from time to time all through their career(trademark pulp) Here, such a song was married to confidence, swagger, no little achievement. ‘Monday Morning’ is bouncy and jerky and fun. The closing ‘Bar Italia’ another piece of Jarvis Cocker theatre, glorious lyrically. An album full of glorious lyrics, an album that so perfectly evokes the time that was 1995/1996, it sends you right back if you happened to be around England at the time. Thing is, I have reservations about ‘Different Class’, just small ones. Although it’s a very solid album, removed from it’s place in history and time, how does it stand up? It still remains a fine album, but the sense of magic that surrounded it in 1995 has gone. A test of time theory. ‘Different Class’ HAS stood the test of time, just about. It’s lost a little, but it’s still standing pretty proud, and glad to be around.

The White Stripes – Elephant [Album Review]

Seven Nation Army / Black Math / There’s No Home For You Here /I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself / Cold Cold Night / I Want To Be With The Boy / You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket / Ball And Biscuit / Hardest Button To Button / Little Acorns / Hypnotize / Air Near My Fingers / Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine / It’s True That We Love One Another

Jack White has apparently been quoted as saying, “If people find out everything about us, then we’re finished” (the irony) – the kind of comment that leads to speculation. What could this everything be? Are The White Stripes really the Milli Vanilli of garage rock? Is there some terrible secret hidden in Jack and Megs closet that we don’t know about? We’ve already had the whole thing about are they, or are they not, brother/sister. We’ve had the whole marriage thing. We’ve had plenty of hype and the inevitable reaction against that hype. Does any of this even matter? Perhaps Jack White is going to pull off his mask at any moment, to reveal that he’s really been Bryan Adams having a bit of a laugh all along? hmm…

Ok, so probably not. Anyways, there’s one song that I never much  cared for  ‘Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground’? Well, ‘There’s No Home For You Here’ repeats melodies from that song in places – but there’s much else going on besides. The whole, overall effect renders ‘Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground’ completely redundant – they’ve moved on, got better. A complaint surrounding The White Stripes has been their lack of bass guitar sounds! Oh, we’ve got something for you here if you were one of those complaining ones. I know I was…. Anyways, apparently IT ISN’T an actual bass guitar that’s being played on ‘Seven Nation Army’, but it sure as hell sounds like one (Ahem Digitech whammy pedal) So, ‘bass’ and Megs drums. An urgent energy and atmosphere, mentions of the British Queen in passing…. This album was recorded in London. That’s kind of nice, given that the UK music press were really responsible for breaking The White Stripes into the big time. The hype may have been hard to believe, but it did get them noticed, and that reflected back to the American press. And yeah, ‘Seven Nation Army’ is the best opening song on any of the four White Stripes albums so far. Going back and forth from the bass sound to astonishing genuine guitar sounds with shouted, raw vocals. Works for me. And, hell yeah! That ‘bass’ sounds groovy as hell. Count me in as one pleased listener. ‘Black Math’ sounds fast, raw – all the usual White Stripes elements are here well Jack White elements, but it just sounds better. There’s a squealing, almost electronic sounding section at one point. And, it follows the opening song, joins the third song – and we really DO have ourselves the best White Stripes so far.

And, holy crap Like, groovy! The White Stripes cover song is one of my very favourite songs, from the immortal Bacharach And David writing team. ‘I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ manages to suit The White Stripes down to the ground, and utterly convinces in a lo-fi raw rock guitar with no bass style. Sigh! Jack sounds really great here, especially with the high vocal parts. This is now officially my favourite Jack White vocal performance, bar none. And, god! I used to complain many a time…. The other ‘White’, Meg, sings the fifth song here. She really wants TO BE Moe Tucker from The Velvet Underground, doesn’t she? This isn’t a shining moment at all to any of the opening songs, but it works to help the album and its good to see Jack sharing out his talent. You see, this album has variation in sound and style all through it. By god, it even has bass guitar sounds! A couple of songs arrive that could have come straight from ‘White Blood Cells’, so if you’re a huge fan of that particular album, then there’s something here reassuring for you. On the otherhand, ‘Ball And Biscuit’ is seven minutes long. Grinding and dirty with about 1000 guitar solos,  the kind of song that could easily have replaced half of the songs on ‘White Blood Cells’ quite happily. ‘The Hardest Button To Button’ is a typical White Stripes song title, includes a fuzzy sound resembling a bass sound, but we know that it isn’t a bass, really. Still, great song! ‘Little Acorns’ includes a spoken introduction and really, very squealing guitar. ‘Air Near My Fingers’ resembles ‘White Blood Cells’, only played faster, with more confidence. ‘Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine’ is hugely fun, with shaking tambourine sounds and all taken at 100 miles an hour.

Choosing to record this album live, in just a matter of days has really paid off. They sound like they went into the studio full of beans, and confidence which i can imagine they did with the amount of classic songs prepared to be wrote. Jack White is pictured holding a cricket bat on the front cover, and the closing song is a little hokey and jokey – including a guest vocalist, along with Jack and Meg – trading lines, and having fun with the already growing White Stripes history and story. It’s not a highlight here, but it’s so silly, I’ll live with it…. and? A fine album overall. Their best yet? Sure, why not. It is, actually.

The Pixies – Doolittle [Album Review]

Debaser / Tame / Wave Of Mutilation / I Bleed / Here Comes Your Man / Dead / Monkey Gone To Heaven / Mr. Grieves / Crackity Jones / La La Love You / No. 13 Baby / There Goes My Gun / Hey / Silver / Gouge Away

For starters Kim wanted to retain the Steve Albini production  in this album but there was controversy as  Charles didn’t, so  this time we get Gil Norton producing this album. But, it works, works so well. This is a more assured collection of songs than ‘Surfer Rosa’ or ‘Come On Pilgrim’ but the group do retain elements of ‘Surfer Rosa’, just add to them as well, that’s all. ‘Debaser’ is the quintessential sound of The Pixies in full-flight, the one song that springs to the mind of many fans if forced to choose just one song to represent the group. This is switching between quiet and loud but done so much more dramatically than anything they’d done before and its such a great great song. Black Francis sounds positively inspired and screams for all he’s worth, Kim adds the usual sweeter backing harmonies which i think the song could have done without. Instrumentally, ‘Debaser’ is faultless. It’s a classic Pixies song. ‘Tame’ following on from ‘Debaser’ where the switching between quiet and loud is even more pronounced and the Black Francis scream becomes so impassioned it’s almost scary, is a stroke of bloody genius. Nobody else has ever given a vocal performance quite like this that I can recall. It’s a wonder he could even speak after recording it. And, things get even better when the poppy ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ arrives and the sequencing is just so perfect. The surf guitars, the mellow vocals, the lyrics…. ‘drive my car into the ocean, you think I’m dead….’ such a strange name for such a bouncy joyful sounding song.

‘I Bleed’ opens with very deep bass notes, Joeys guitar arrives, the lyrics and vocal performance are both wonderful and inspired and the guitars through the chorus classic Pixies guitars (yet again) ‘Here Comes Your Man’ is more surf guitar but this time married to an even better song, a pop song? Yeah, you could call it that. Had The Pixies had enough of a public profile at the time, this could have been a huge hit for them. It’s just a sunny, sweet and joyous song that adds further variety to ‘Doolittle’ which is already their most varied album at this stage, but among that still manages to somehow retain a common sound. That’s the best way, the best combination of things. ‘Dead’ is great to sing along with (never though id say that?!) and the bass guitar is again notable here. ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ is perhaps the best known Pixies song from this album, and still sends chills down my spine with it’s use of Cello and Violin, and seemingly touching lyrics that fail to make any sense. It matters not one single iota, this is a truly beautiful song. ‘Mr Grieves’ entertainingly opens the second side of the record with a little Kinks ‘Dead End Street’ descending bass line, mixed in with a single riff and a half laughing, half stuttering vocal. It becomes another distinctive Pixies song introduction. Happily, the rest of the song is even better with sparkling guitars and another beautiful yet powerful vocal performance. ‘Crackity Jones’ restores the demented guitars and trashing exactly when the album needed it. This is as exhilarating and raw as anything from the first two albums. And then? Drummer Dave Lovering gets to sing a song! It’s not the best song on ‘Doolittle’ I guess, and he does struggle slightly with the vocals but it’s just his voice is so deep and crooning, it’s really just hilariously funny. Matched with a classic Pixies semi-surf guitar strum, wonderful sounding guitars – and you have something that becomes a work of perhaps unintended genius, but genius all the same. Genius? I’ve used that word before on this page. The Pixies are the kind of group people sometimes reserve for that word, and ‘Doolittle’ of all their albums is the one that showcases their full range of achievements and styles.

‘No 13 Baby’ may initially sound to you like a reprise of ‘the sound of doolittle’ and true enough, this isn’t as startling a song as much else of what’s here, but…… the strummed guitar and Charles off in the distance vocal through the quieter sections are a joy all the same. It’s still a mighty fine song in my book, with some entertaining Joey guitar notable in particular. ‘There Goes My Gun’ is a throwback structurally to ‘Surfer Rosa’ or ‘Come On Pilgrim’ but Kim sounds wonderful here on Bass and vocals, and each group member takes a turn to sing a line of the lyric, ‘friend or foe’, which is fun. ‘Hey’ opens with a spine chillingly beautiful vocal. Equally as beautiful restrained guitars come in once again. ‘Whore in my bed, BUT HEY!’ sings Black Francis, as well he might. ‘We’re chained….’ continues the lyric, the guitar soars – another beautiful moment on an album full of them. ‘Silver’ features a dual lead vocal from Kim and Frank as well as Slide guitar which works astonishing  and surprisingly well in giving the song a truly timeless feel. ‘Gouge Away’ finishes things off with more stupendous vocal screaming. A powerful song to close an utterly listenable album that really does have it all.

Gorillaz – Demon Days [Album Review]

Intro / Last Living Souls / Kids With Guns / O Green World / Dirty Harry/ Feel Good Inc. / El Manana / Every Plant We Reach Is Dead / NovemberHas Come / All Alone / White Light / Dare / Fire Coming Out Of A Monkeys Head / Don’t Get Lost In Heaven / Demon Days

How can a cartoon band progress, exactly? Well, maybe draw a bit more grizzle and pain onto the front sleeves cartoon faces of the band members. Make an album that sounds altogether darker in places than the majority of the debut. Remain rooted in hip-hop, but also work with a myriad of other influences. Reach number one in the album charts, if you’re Damon Albarn, and still have taxi-drivers come upto you and say, “hey Damon, you’ve not done much music lately, have you?”. Gorillaz are huge, yet still a good majority of the record buying public have no idea who is behind the band, let alone the fact that Damon Albarn from Blur is behind the band. All of these things can be qualified as successes. First single ‘Feel Good Inc’ is so insidious that it’s no surprise it stuck around in the charts here in the UK for months and months, very rare for a single these days. The bass riff is hella catchy and you just cant stop humming it. Gorillaz took advantage of the new rule allowing legally downloaded singles to count towards the charts proper. As such, ‘Feel Good Inc’ spent a good three or four weeks in the top 40 before it was even released on vinyl or CD. Good going, I say. As for the sleek piece of modernity the song ‘Feel Good Inc’ is, Gorillaz still saw fit to include an inspired section about windmills that occupied a quieter section in the song, driven by acoustic guitar. You’ve just got to love it there is no other way around it. ‘Dare’ has been released as the 2nd single and much like the first, initially fails to grab you by the balls but after repeated listening, burrows its way into your soul. So, two singles in and ‘Demon Days’ has already corrected one of the flaws of the debut album set? Well, it would appear so.

It’s a strange thing, but for an album that lasts  not too long at all (fifty minutes) ‘Demon Days’ seems to last several days rather than just shy of an hour. Ah, finally a critiscm! They’ve worked hard though to vary the sound of the songs that make up the album, ‘Don’t Get Lost In Heaven’ almost coming across as a lost Lennon mantra beamed down to earth and worked into a song, of sorts, courtesy of Damon. ‘El Manana’ resembles post-coxon Blur with added dance production. Well, naturally enough, I suppose. But, going back to what I mentioned right at the start of this review, a darker mood permeates stuff like this than Gorillaz of before. Back to the album sounding as if it lasts longer than a mere fifty minutes then? Well, it seems packed to bursting with ideas, often good ideas that too frequently don’t reach full fruition because of the clumsy nature of the arrangements. Too many times the songs comes across as overproduced, a shared complaint I had with the debut. The band just trying far too hard. No natural ( monkey? ) magic then, but the best of this album is certainly special enough to almost justify the massive hype.

Radiohead – Ok Computer [Album Review]

Airbag / Paranoid Android / Subterranean Homesick Alien / Exit Music (For A Film) / Let Down / Karma Police / Fitter Happier / Electioneering / Climbing Up The Walls / No Surprises / Lucky / The Tourist

So, what the hell happened? I don’t know, I doubt even Radiohead know, but this album is a tremendous leap forward. Radiohead had been listening to experimental Jazz music, and ‘other kinds’ of music and it all pieced together and helped. Then unknown producer Nigel Godrich did a stunning if not perfect job, and funnily enough producers don’t always get the credit they deserve. His name was made entirely by his work with Radiohead here. The acclaim and reviews ‘Ok Computer’ received made it an instant new ‘Sgt Pepper’, or more accurately, an instant new ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. Within months, ‘OK Computer’ was one of the greatest albums ever made. More sceptical and suspicious US music critics received copies of ‘OK Computer’ glued into a special walkman, so that they had no choice but to listen to it. Therefore making them come around. Some US Radiohead fans found the group via ‘Ok Computer’ then later decided that they preferred ‘The Bends’ all along, even though none of them bought ‘The Bends’ at the time, which reached the mid reaches of ‘Billboard’ whilst ‘OK Computer’ went top twenty, a significant move forwards for Radiohead. And you know, the evidence is here. ‘Airbag’ is a re-write of ‘Planet Telex’ only it has twice as good lyrics, three times the atmosphere and is generally better all around. If you have some special attachment to ‘Planet Telex’, congratulations, but I cannot comprehend anybody preferring ‘Planet Telex’ to ‘Airbag’ myself. The improvement in the lyrics alone should be enough to convince anyone, and that’s ignoring the much improved music. ‘Paranoid Android’ is a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the nineties, a ‘Good Vibrations’ or a ‘Telstar’ for the nineties. There! That threw you, didn’t it?? A ‘Telstar’ for the Nineties?! It has nothing in common with the Joe Meek classic ‘Telstar’ whatsoever, except for the fact that ‘Paranoid Android’ broke new ground, if only with the fact that it’s so brilliant its beggars belief. I’ve seen video footage of Radiohead playing this song live, and just look at the guitar players fingers! Just look at the stretches and really bizarre shapes he makes with his fingers. And it sounds good too! And the section that floats in dreamily with holy sounding chanting and the ‘rain down on me’ section. It’s all stunning, it’s all brilliant. But, Radiohead being Radiohead, known for their dislike of video’s, decided to use an animation that was so shitty it made you bang your head against a wall. A ‘Paranoid Android’ with an excellent video to match would have been a major hit single, instead of the just fairly sizable hit single ( it reached no 2 in the uk for a week only ) that it was unfortunately.

Uttter genius out of the way, how about some more genius? The brilliantly titled ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’ has evocative lyrics, spooky sounds and wonderful atmospheres, atmosphere is most certainly the  key. The lyrics are key, and the glue that holds it all together. Thom sounds magnificent, and ‘Exit Music’ isn’t too far behind, either. ‘Let Down’ and ‘Karma Police’ are pretty straightforward moments for ‘OK Computer’, but ‘Let Down’ for one, with its sweet guitar sounds is brilliant. So far, ‘OK Computer’ is almost too good to be true. Relief is at hand! The bizarre Stephen Hawkings computer voice of the spoken ‘Fitter Happier’ freaks you out, ‘Electioneering’ was an early US Radiohead record label favourite, ‘a potential hit’, before it finally reached ‘OK Computer’ and was turned into a delightful yet impassioned guitar mess! Whoops! There goes the radio play down the drain! Still, no matter! ‘Climbing Up The Walls’ along with ‘Fitter Happier’ I suppose is the nearest ‘OK Computer gets to a weak moment, but ‘Climbing Up The Walls’ is scary as shit, and fits the album. The album starts to develop rather than just being a random collection of brilliant songs with a technology and alienation theme loosely linking it together. The closing three songs are all great, the sweet guitar of ‘No Surprises’, the slow and emotionally draining closing five minute long epic ( can a song five minutes long be an epic? this is! ) and the absolutely storming and awe-inspiring ‘Lucky’ sitting in the middle of it all, that almost manages to better ‘Paranoid Android’, and perhaps does. ‘OK Computer’ lives upto the hype, one of the greatest albums ever made.