October 15, 2007
by findingDulcinea Staff
The ubiquitous, rebellious British band ups the ante in the record industry and continues to make timeless rock albums.



Radiohead was formed in Oxfordshire, England in 1986. The band’s name was taken from the title of a song on the Talking Heads album True Stories. Finding early success with the song “Creep,” which became a hit first in Israel, then in the U.S., this pioneering guitar band found international recognition when it produced The Bends (1995) followed by OK Computer (1997)—two of the most highly regarded alternative rock albums of all time.

Hailed by some critics as “bigger than the Beatles,” and by many others as simply peerless, Radiohead is one of few bands to span a two-decade career, release albums to critical and commercial success in both the U.S. and U.K., retain all of its original members and and maintain a reverential—even worshipful—fan base.

The Vision

Radiohead carved out a niche that no other band has yet joined. Inspired by the music of bands like Pink Floyd, the roiling, anthemic early work of U2, and the post-punk offerings of groups like the Talking Heads and Pixies, the band’s early work depicted a bleak, thoughtful, profoundly moving perspective on politics, love, isolation and social issues. Poised at the nexus of Margaret Thatcher’s final years and the U.K.’s transition to a Labour government, Radiohead defined a disillusionment and self-awareness that was accompanied by complex, guitar-based arrangements, classically inspired innovations led by guitarist Jonny Greenwood, and singer Thom Yorke’s instantly recognizable falsetto.

Curriculum vitae

Here are two choice, critical cuts from AMG:

The Bends, Capitol Records, 1995, reviewed by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

OK Computer, Capitol Records, 1997, reviewed by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
For new listeners, whose ears perked up at Radiohead’s aversion to “The Industry” but who knew nothing about the music until now, AMG provides a list of “moods” commonly associated with Radiohead’s sound: “insular,” “epic,” “sprawling,” “wistful” and “eerie” are five apt descriptors.

Lyrical Study

Making a Connection

Die-Hard Peers

Visualizing the Ascent

The Ironic Tip Jar

This is an era in which musical tastes change as quickly as cell phone technology. We are constantly approaching long-standing musical acts with the question: Does this music still matter? Although bands often adapt their musical platforms to changing tastes, the question speaks to the quality of the music and the ambition of the group: Is the group “staying true”? Do the new truths sound great? Are they convincing, or do they fall flat?

Decades-old acts tend to stick around, like U2, or fade quietly, like REM; Radiohead is in the first category. There have certainly been spells of acclaimed but less compelling releases from Radiohead, but the music has rarely suggested creative drought or intra-band struggle. As Alex Pedritis notes in the Guardian, In Rainbows “does not sound like a band clutching their brows and wondering what to do next,” though the album’s arduous recording process, which straddled the 2006 release of Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser, hinted that the band was on the verge of a breakup. Not so.

All in the Marketing

Do You Buy It?


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