Infinite Shuffle

April 1, 2010

PROJECT RADIOHEAD: Manic Hedgehog EP (1991)

Filed under: Radiohead — assman41 @ 12:01 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: While putting together my best-of-the-decade lists, I noticed there was nary a Radiohead song or album in sight. I realized that’s because I’d never really given them much attention and probably had only listened to one album in its entirety. I decided to rectify that by listening to their entire catalog, so I could finally have an informed opinion on what many consider to be the greatest band of my generation. This is the first entry in the series.

I was told by a friend to skip Radiohead’s early stuff and just start with The Bends. But for me to truly appreciate the band, I need to know where it started. If it’s as bad as people think, then maybe that’ll just make the later stuff sound that much better.

As it turns out, Radiohead’s first offering wasn’t bad at all. The Manic Hedgehog EP is only five tracks, but each seems to stand out as having its own vibe and influences.

From the outset, I could tell this was definitely made in the early ’90s. The opening track “I Can’t” reminded me of something you might’ve heard from The Sundays or Deep Blue Something or even the Gin Blossoms.

The next song, “Nothing Touches Me” started with a Bush “Machinehead” opening, but eventually it settled into a something that U2 might’ve put out during the Achtung Baby era.

The album’s middle track, “Thinking About You”, had a definite punk vibe, complete with fast, distorted guitars. Something about the song reminded me of Rancid’s “Story of My Life”, but that might’ve been a stretch.

The penultimate track, the oddly titled “Phillipa Chicken”, definitely came from the early ’90s, but the elements that really stood out are the Beatles-like vocal harmonies and the psychadelic guitars.

The album’s closer, “You”, is the first time we hear that signature, slow, pained Thom Yorke voice. Coupled with some medium-fast, rocking distortion, it’s like a mix between The Cranberries and Pearl Jam maybe.

I bet I could play this album for a Radiohead novice and tell them the five songs are played by five different bands, and they wouldn’t doubt me for a second.

Manic Hedgehog is a really interesting starting point for the band, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses from here.

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