Pablo Honey [Collectors Series]

by: Radiohead

EMI's 2009 expansion of Pablo Honey comes with a second disc boasting a generous 22 tracks, many of them originally released as B-sides on multi-part singles in the '90s. This winds up collecting almost all the released non-LP tracks from 1992 and 1993, beginning with the four-track 1992 EP Drill, which includes demos of "Prove Yourself," "You," and "Thinking About You," plus the non-LP "Stupid Car"; eight B-sides from the "Creep" singles, including the non-LPs songs "Inside My Head" and "Million Dollar Question," live versions of "Inside My Head," "Vegetable," and "Killer Cars," and an acoustic version of "Creep" (a live take on "You" is missing but not missed), plus a remix of "Blow Out"; two flips from "Anyone Can Play Guitar" ("Faithless, the Wonderboy," "Coke Babies"); the non-LP single "Pop Is Dead" and two of its B-sides, "Banana Co." (acoustic) and a live "Ripchord" (a live version of "Creep" is left behind); and finally the U.S. version of "Stop Whispering" plus several BBC sessions that functioned as B-sides. It's a bunch of music and a fairly motley collection, revealing that Radiohead was an awkward fawn still learning how to use its spindly legs. So, this can often be instructional instead of entertaining, as in the case of "Pop Is Dead," not a great song but an interesting transition between Pablo Honey's awkward collegiate pop and the guitar-heavy The Bends. Much of the interest of this material is historical: "Faithless, the Wonderboy" slowly, steadily builds to its pop chorus and "Coke Babies" harnesses a considerable amount of dramatic momentum, pointing the way toward The Bends without quite being very good songs. But the true evidence of Radiohead's growing power are the live tracks, where the band sounds stronger and riskier than it did on the album proper -- and it's that sense of risk that makes the bonus disc worthwhile, perhaps even more than the original Pablo Honey itself. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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