Radiohead

Radiohead

Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood come into the studio for an extensive conversation with Jim and Greg.

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Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood

This week on the show, Jim and Greg have two very special guests: Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of the band Radiohead. Our hosts consider Radiohead one of the most important bands of the past two decades, and were thrilled to have the lead singer and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist on the show. Greg asserts that Kid A is the most avant-garde album to ever debut at the top of the Billboard charts — it's rare that a band can be so experimental and still achieve such mainstream success.

Radiohead was in Chicago to perform two shows at the Auditorium Theatre, and when they come to town, it is always memorable. Their 2001 outdoor performance at Hutchinson Field was a landmark event for Chicago music. Though the city has not always been eager to invite droves of young rockers into its public spaces, the success of that show seems to have paved the way for outdoor music concerts like Lollapalooza. Nevertheless, the Brits‘ return to the city this year was not completely drama free. The city rejected the band’s bid to play at Millennium Park, although it's not clear whether or not Radiohead would have even accepted. Never one to do the same thing twice, the band was eager to try out a smaller, indoor venue like the Auditorium Theatre.

Thom and Jonny explain that this tour was an opportunity to work on songs that may be a part of their upcoming 2007 release. That's good news, since some suspected that there might not even be a next album. Radiohead's extended family keeps growing, as does their interest in solo work, so there was speculation that they might not continue in this incarnation. But unlike bands of their stature who stay together for the sake of the business, the bandmates explain that Radiohead will go on as long as the music makes it worth it. And in the meantime, they'll have to juggle the music with the nappies.

Doing solo projects is still a priority for members of Radiohead. Jonny composed the music for the 2004 film Bodysong, which he also co-produced. And Thom Yorke will be releasing The Eraser in July, though he explains that the term“solo”is not really appropriate in this case. The album was produced and arranged by longtime Radiohead collaborater Nigel Godrich, and contains music composed by his bandmates.

One of the songs on The Eraser, "Harrowdown Hill," was inspired by the death of weapons inspector and government scientist Dr. David Kelly. After acting as a whistle-blower and telling a journalist that he disagreed with claims the British government made about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kelly was found dead only days later. A Parliamentary committee investigated the death and determined it to be suicide, but many, including Thom, are skeptical of the validity of this finding. It's not the first time Thom and the band have infused their music with political meaning — though, as Thom explains to Jim and Greg, his approach differs from that of his fellow countryman.

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Nelly Furtado Loose

Up for review this week is Loose, the third album from singer Nelly Furtado. She had breakout success with her 2000 record Whoa, Nelly!, featuring the hit single, "I'm Like a Bird." But she had less luck with her second album, Folklore, so on this go-around, Furtado sought out acclaimed producer Timbaland. Our critics disagree about the results. Jim finds her newly sexed-out image manufactured and unoriginal. He misses her more adventurous approach to music that incorporated pop with worldbeat and folk. Basically, Jim finds Nelly to be a“skanky ho.”That said, he does appreciate the Latin songs on Loose, and her ballad with Coldplay's Chris Martin. For Greg, these are the worst songs on the album. He prefers the irresistible dance numbers "Promiscuous" and "Maneater," which are full of Timbaland's signature grooves. Greg questions why Jim is upset by a woman being overtly sexual, and explains that he finds her lyrics flirtatious, playful and ultimately harmless. Both critics give Loose a Burn It — for very different reasons.

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Jim

“Raving and Drooling”Pink Floyd

Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick this week is inspired by his conversation with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. The band uses live performances as opportunities to explore and expand tracks they work on in the studio. This reminds Jim of the touring tactics of another great British band: Pink Floyd. They too would road-test songs for months at a time before taking them to the studio. And the result is similar: Both Radiohead and Pink Floyd are simultaneously experimental, avant-garde and also successful in the mainstream, a rare combination in the music industry. So Jim decides to add a track that Pink Floyd experimented with live, then later recorded in a different format. The song fans know as "Sheep" from the 1977 album Animals, was originally performed live as "Raving and Drooling." Listen to the studio version, then compare it to this rare DIJ pick.

Featured Songs

  1. Thom Yorke,“The Eraser,”The Eraser, 2006
  2. Radiohead, Paranoid Android, OK Computer, 1997
  3. Radiohead,“Videotape,”(live)
  4. Radiohead,“Idioteque,”Kid A, 2000
  5. Thom Yorke,“Harrowdown Hill,”The Eraser, 2006
  6. Thom Yorke,“I Want None Of This,”Help - A Day In The Life Of, 2005 Live in Studio
  7. Nelly Furado,“Promiscuous,”Loose, 2006
  8. Nelly Furtado,“Maneater,”Loose, 2006

Footnotes

allmusic.com Thom Yorke allmusic.com Jonny Greenwood radiohead.com Radiohead's homepage greenplastic.com Radiohead fansite metacritic.com Kid A youtube.com Radiohead live in Chicago jimdero.com Jim on Radiohead's 2001 outdoor show jimdero.com Radio rejected from Millennium Park millenniumpark.org Millennium Park auditoriumtheatre.org Auditorium Theatre theeraser.net The Eraser nigelgodrich.com Nigel Godrich's homepage songmeanings.net“Harrowdown Hill”lyrics theguardian.com Dr. David Kelly nytimes.com Weapons of Mass Distraction? bbc.co.uk Dr. Kelly's death investigated guardian.co.uk Thom gets political nellyfurtado.com Nelly Furtado's homepage allmusic.com Furtado's 'Whoa, Nelly!' youtube.com“I'm Like a Bird”video allmusic.com Timbaland youtube.com“Promiscuous”video jimdero.com Jim on Radiohead's influences pinkfloyd.com Pink Floyd's homepage allmusic.com“Sheep” allmusic.com Pink Floyd's ‘Animals’