It was like Now That’s What I Call Music, wasn’t it? A Moon Shaped Pool was stuffed, once more, with wall-to-wall hits purpose-built for warbling in the shower, soundtracking summer BBQs and filling your favourite banger playlists. And ‘Burn The Witch’ was the catchiest of the lot with its convulsive judder, portent-heavy chorus and bouncing bassline. We got our Radiohead back.
You know, a bit.
“Apart from the singing,” observes Junior, “the music’s actually quite good! I can’t imagine playing it on my flute though – it’d be forte all the way through.”
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.”
The one surefooted monster among Hail To The Thief’s dreary missteps, ‘There There’ finds time to play at Bjork’s ‘Human Behaviour’ before letting rip with fiery guitars and palpable thrills. It reminds me of painting my old flat. So does that Zwan album. Decorating in 2003 was all about suspiciously lumpen, sneakily enjoyable rock.
Junior says: “When’s the good bit?” I’d built Thom and Jonny’s axe-clash up a bit. She also suffered a potential lethal blow to her nascent understanding of mathematics, when reading ‘2 + 2 = 5’ on the CD cover.
As a globally conscious 12-year-old, I spent my hard-won cash on the single like millions of others. I was struck by how much one of the Ethiopian children on the cover looked like Bob Geldof. Yesterday morning, Junior was subjected to the original and the recent remake – she was lucky that I couldn’t find the awful Stock Aitken Waterman version, or I would’ve carried out my threat to play one a day ‘til Christmas.
I’m one of the few who admits to liking the 1984 song. I’m one of the even fewer who can see value in 2004’s edition. I like Thom Yorke’s piano. The Darkness guitars are dreadful, though, and it goes on way too long. Also, don’t we get proper heavyweight pop stars any more? There’s hardly anyone on the later record to compete in terms of fame, glamour, ego and interest with the likes of Simon Le Bon, George Michael, Boy George, even Sting. I bet Status Quo weren’t plying Will Young and Jamelia with Class A drugs.
Junior can’t see what any of the fuss is about. She manages to laugh near the Dizzee Rascal bit, and I can see her wondering who Glenn Gregory is. Or was.