Radiohead: On Track: Every Album, Every Song – On Track  – book review
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Radihead book - on trackRadiohead On Track: Every Album, Every Song – On Track by William Allen b(Paperback)

Sonicbond Publishing Oct 2021

This superb book examines every track from every album delivered by Radiohead, who are undoubtedly one of the most significant, exciting and influential bands of the century.

The band formed in the mid-eighties under the name of ‘On A Friday’ (their rehearsal day) at their secondary school in Oxfordshire.

“Although I had been aware of Creep, it was hearing My Iron Lung in 1994 that hooked me into the world of Radiohead. There was something unique and otherworldly about the sound of that record. – William Allen (author)

The author takes a unique, in-depth look at all tracks from all nine Radiohead albums (at the time of publishing in 2021) spanning three decades, beginning with their debut album Pablo Honey in 1993. Then followed by arguably the most ground-breaking albums of the ’90s: The Bends and OK Computer released in 1997, right through to A Moon Shaped Pool in 2016.

It looks at each peripheral song, from singles, B-sides and EPs, with stories, facts and analyses of every officially-released track. Details included are the song key, chords, song feel, lyrics, genres and style which includes a variety of Rock, Indie and Electronic genres woven throughout the bands musical journey. If that wasn’t enough detail for you there are even analyses of guitar and other instrumental effects and descriptions of where instruments drop in and out of tracks to create that distinctive exciting experience.

The book content demonstrates that the author William Allen, who resides in Whaley Bridge (UK) is clearly a musician, he has completed a music degree and then went on to complete a Masters in film composition. Although he describes in some detail some arrangements, keys and chord structures, the language would not always be beyond non-musicians comprehension or interest. Any Radiohead fan should relish all the facts, information and descriptions in this fascinating book.

The book is not intended to be a biography, but an analytical chronology of their music. It describes extensively the musical and vocal accompaniments and arrangements, sometimes in as much detail as to where and when all the band crash in at which bar. The delivery of Thom’s lyrics is also examined, as the author delves into the possible meanings of some lyrics. Quoting lines detailing the song length and also suggesting musical influences such as The Pixies, Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd. It also documents the studio location, record label producers, release date, chart placing and success of each album, including quotes from interviews with Thom Yorke.

An example of this is a description of the single from OK Computer’s Paranoid Android. The author references an interview in which Thom Yorke alludes to Melody Maker and NME critics saying “their opinion is of no consequence”. He highlights this by lifting out the lyrics below, suggesting this is a clue to the critics being the target here: “When I am King you will be first against the wall, With your opinion which is of no consequence at all”

Another example is taking a snapshot from The Tourist, briefly describing how Jonny Greenwood had once disappointedly detailed observing tourists in France driving dangerously too fast: “Hey Man, Slow Down, Slow Down Idiot, Slow Down”.

Any lyrics that are highlighted will be instantly recognisable and no doubt impossible for any Radiohead fan not to automatically sing in their head. The mid-section of the book contains a delightful array of colourful glossy photographs, that include album covers, live band shots and in the studio.

This book is an extremely interesting and absolutely pleasurable read, especially for Radiohead fans. However, even if not yet a fan of the incredible ground-breaking band, it’s still very much worth a read.

This book can be purchased at all good bookshops

More about Radiohead on their official website

All words by Claire Glover. More writing by Claire on Louder Than War can be found at her author profile here. You can also find her on Twitter

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