Radiohead - Pablo Honey
I was a little apprehensive when tasked with reviewing Radiohead's debut album, Pablo Honey but in the end, it allowed me to look at the humble beginnings of a band that would eventually become one of the most important in modern rock/pop/indie/alternative music.
The timing of Pablo Honey couldn't have been worse. Think about the landscape of Brit-pop.1993 was the lead-up to Oasis' Definitely Maybe. Blur had a hit on their hands with Modern Life Is Rubbish, Manic Street Preachers were picking up steam (before Richey James went missing), The Verve, Swervedriver, Ride, Suede. Brit-pop and Shoegazer... How could a band come out of England and not get lumped into the same group as all before them? Somehow Radiohead had the ability to resonate with Americans that were into Grunge. Be it the Creep song or the well tuned senses of this group of people the combination of influences with all the current happenings, including the big sounds of U2 would get Radiohead the start they needed.
Sure, you've all heard the anthemic "Creep" but can you name another song off of Pablo Honey without looking it up? I had a hard time. I then remembered the grungy "Anyone Can Play Guitar" and then I started listening to the whole thing once again. If you are familiar with this album, I suggest you do the same. Throw out your pre or post-conceptions of the album and try on these songs again. The band swears that "Creep" almost killed their career because they got in with the Grunge crowd even though they were so much more pop than grunge. They overcame and worked their way in with the even better (and this reviewer's favorite album) The Bends.
If you do nothing else from reading this review, go listen to "Thinking About You". One of the best songs on the album. Tracks like "Ripcord" and "Vegetable" would hint towards the great songs that would make up The Bends. "Blow Out" is another sign of things to come for Radiohead. Not nearly as vicious as it may sound.
How appropriate is the baby within the daisy on the cover too? A young band that would blossom into bringing us such an extensive catalog of alternative albums. And really, pretty much without the help of ANY mainstream radio. Pablo Honey is an essential artifact for 90s rock music. Maybe not as much as their follow-up, but this album did shape a lot of other 90s music as well.
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