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Radiohead - Willam Allen: Radiohead On Track: Every Album, Every Song

  by Lisa Torem

published: 21 / 6 / 2022

Radiohead - Willam Allen: Radiohead On Track: Every Album, Every Song


In her 'Raging Pages' book column series, Lisa Torem reflects on Willam Allen's 'Radiohead On Track: Every Album, Every Song', which, published at the end of last year, is one of the latest books from the excellent Sonicbond Publishing.

You already know who Radiohead are. You may have wailed in self-pity to ‘Creep’ on your worst day. You may even know the names of vocalist Thom Yorke, lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, guitarist Ed O’Brien, bassist Colin Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway. But there’s so much more to know about the band’s rise to success and the music that made it all happen. Enter author William Allen, who gets to the heart of what made Radiohead such an international hit through careful analysis, sound opinion and fun facts. The band released nine studio albums over 23 years, starting with 1993’s “Pablo Honey” and ending (so far) with 2016’s “A Moon Shaped Pool”. As expected, Allen spends a considerable amount of time discussing the arc of each album and each track through press coverage, back stories and related statistics, such as peak chart rankings, but he also comments liberally on B-sides, singles, EPs and rare recordings. If you’re not familiar with a particular track, you’ll be inspired to give it a decent listen after reading this book. There’s much to cover: in depth melodic and lyrical analysis, a play-by-play of guitar entrances and exits and a zeroing in on electronic effects. Allen is by trade a guitarist and holds a master’s degree in composition for film and TV, but he’s careful to write in a style that is easy to read and to share his broad knowledge without intimidating the non-musician or the mere browser. Quotes from Thom Yorke’s past interviews also serve to give the reader a clear picture of the band’s vision and talent, but Allen gives credence to all the band members, with either quotes or exclamations about a contribution. When Ed O’Brien asks at one crucial point in the studio: “Where do I play a part in all of this?” the status quo changes and relationships renew. As typical of the series, there’s a glossy section with images of album covers and studio shots which gives the reader a break from simply reading print. The captions add greatly to the existing conversation. Better yet, you’ll see an image of Allen’s sparkling new axe, modeled after O’Brien’s, and on which Allen has, possibly, strummed a few Radiohead hits, when he’s not writing about the band.

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