It’s my own fault here – I’m a sucker for such books. I’ll behind-the-album/inside-the-songs accounts whenever I can find them, wherever I see them. I have a shelf full of classic album-related books that I haven’t even got to yet.
So I bit. I read this book claiming to be the stories behind every song in Radiohead’s career. Prosaic would be the kind way to dismiss this book.
Doheny is writing to order – makes sense, as this book is part of a series (the imaginatively titled Stories Behind The Songs series). So he takes each album, offers a thin précis-sketch, a weak and feeble set-up really. Then track-by-track he bores with mind-numbing mentions of Johnny being particularly inspired to add sound effects and noise or Thom having written the song entirely by himself and having kept it for many years before finally fronting with it to see what the rest of the band thinks.
Good lord this is dull.
It gets about as exciting as it can when Doheny moves to The King Of Limbs. Only because here he has a chance to unearth stories that might seem fresh. But no. He’s stuck in cruise-control.
Books like this are quite possibly the reason a lot of people who have never really listened to Radiohead think that a lot of people who have listened to (almost) too much Radiohead are jerks. Books like this serve a purpose quite the opposite of their intention.
This couldn’t turn a fan on if it tried; nor turn an open-minded, enthusiastic music listener seeking context for why Radiohead should be given another – deeper – chance on to that actual – deeper – chance.
Fuck this book was boring. Really, really boring. Do not be fooled. Do not think that because you are a huge Radiohead fan you will get something out of this – you will not. Beyond a cure for insomnia. Do not think that because someone close to you wants you to know more about Radiohead this book is the answer. It is not. It only answers the question of where lazy hacks with a spare dripping with layers of deconstructed electronica-type cliché or two go to bury them.
You’ve been warned. Avoid.