I remember clearly when I first heard Creep, Radiohead’s breakthrough single, the millstone around their neck ever since, and the undisputed highlight from this, their 1993 debut album. It was in the kitchen of the first student house I shared at university in Leicester. There should be a plaque on the wall outside, for whilst I was pottering about listening to the radio, washing up I think, this came on, and stopped me in my tracks. It sounded completely new, and fairly blew my mind. It was as much a game-changer for “indie rock” as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit I’ve been a Radiohead fan ever since.
Though I confess I haven’t played their debut for some time. It sounds almost like a curiosity now; they developed their style, pushed their creative boundaries so quickly, that its as much of a leap from this to The Bends and from there to OK Computer. After that, they never looked back.
Although nothing else on the album comes close to Creep in terms of hitting that sweet spot of adrenaline and despair, their two other singles from the album, Stop Whispering and Anyone Can Play Guitar are pretty good also. The latter is a nice mix of Thom Yorke’s nihilism and sarkyness with the lines “As if the world does turn / And if London burns / I’ll be standing on the beach with my guitar.” Jonny Greenwood’s distinctive guitar style is noticeable on certain tracks (Blow Out and Lurgee in particular) but there’s an overly heavy dependency on grungifying everything with a heavy wash of guitar chords and thundering drums. The early 90s were the grunge years after all, with the Pixies and Nirvana in ascendance. Fortunately Radiohead soon found their own way.
Best Bits: Creep. Obviously.
Genre: Indie Rock
Like This, Try This: Ingrid Michaelson’s cover of Creep. It’s something else.