Radiohead, ‘Lotus Flower’

Thom Yorke

While on important business stashing old baby clothes in the loft last week, I discovered an even more crucial use of my time – rescuing some old self-made mixtapes from the dusty cassette drawers to take downstairs and not play because my tape deck’s broken, and therefore clutter up the dining room even more.

One that I can’t wait to enjoy again at some distant point is a gloomy mix made at the end of 1995. Starting off with Tricky’s oh-so-coolly-obscure ‘Nothing’s Clear’ and moving through Parliament Funkadelic & P-Funk All-Stars’ foggy take on ‘Follow The Leader’, Goldie’s ‘Inner City Life’, some acoustic Jhelisa and smoky D’Angelo, it’s sunshine all the way. I think The King Of Limbs would find kindred spirits here, and ‘Lotus Flower’ in particular would snuggle up to Ingrid Schroeder’s ‘Bee Charmer’, where DJ Muggs makes spooky trip hop all drum and bassy.

Separated from Thom Yorke’s daft, standing-on-a-live-rail dancing, ‘Lotus Flower’ is an eerie blues. Remove thoughts of Thom’s convulsions entirely and it’s almost sexy. Its final 30 seconds go higher and higher, a trance state whipped away as The King Of Limbs plunges into its fantastic three-song finale: deep, feet-planted chords and a hook place ‘Codex’ above cousins ‘Pyramid Song’ and ‘Sail To The Moon’; ‘Give Up The Ghost’ is devotional, somehow tender (or ‘Tender’); ‘Separator’ finds a groove in guitars that resemble George Martin’s speeded-up, ‘In My Life’ piano. There’s much to admire in the album’s first half, but it finds its feet with increasing assurance until it’s moving them with controlled joy.

All this analysis is peripheral for Junior, who cuts to the chase, to what we take for granted: the band’s name. “Radiohead? Radiohead?! You have a radio in your head.” She gets up and moves robotically across the room. “I-AM-RA-DI-O-HEAD.”

[11] D’Angelo, ‘Brown Sugar’

To go with her shoulder rolls, Junior’s been learning a new dance move. It involves rocking her head from side to side, and got a good airing to D’Angelo. Dad was clicking his fingers on the snap of the beat. Junior could see it was apt comment on this crisp, cool-as-frozen-cubes-of-sweet-potato-baby-meals record.

‘Brown Sugar’ is as smooth as particularly unruffled silk. It’s sparse yet polished, with dashes of strings and tinkles of hammond, and it drifts by in a smoky haze. You’d fall asleep if it wasn’t so insidiously funky. D’Angelo was riding the crest of the “nu soul” wave, Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott in his wake, but it all came to nothing in the end. None of them pressed the garish commercial buttons.

10 down, 10 to go. Gets a bit more obvious now. Robson & Jerome, Rednex and Celine Dion all still to come.