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Brian - The R•diohead Covers Project


(NOTE: Though I'm careful with the band name I cannot write a post this involved without using the song titles. It would be too much of a headache. So, let's hope...ALSO, this post is gonna be a STICKY at the top for a while. so there will be newer posts under it.)

OH MY GOD, is this one good!!! I mean, really, with no hyperbole - and no small amount of pride, either - this is one of the top 3 covers comps I've ever come up with. It's just that good; I mean, I'm the one who made it and even I don't know how it happened! My favorite kind of cover projects are the ones that seem to come together on their own. The Alice In Coverland post comes to mind, or Bowie, or The Purple One. This collection of R•diohead covers was like that, after some false starts. My usual MP3 sites were giving up some interesting versions of songs, but not enough. So I did what I do usually only as a last resort - I went on YouTube. 

And this entire compilation opened up to me! I found some more famous names, sure, but what amazed me was all the great live covers by smaller indie bands, university ensembles, jazz bands, foreign groups, and people making music at home. I mean, the entire fucking planet loves R•diohead! While I avoided recordings of standard tribute cover bands (especially barroom cell phone vids), I was intrigued by some of the other groups I found. There was such a wealth of covers, I was afraid of sorting them all out. But I went with my ears and my gut, and I let this thing take its own shape. 

And in the end, this turned out just like the Bowie comp, even down to writing every track name down on a piece of paper and shuffling them. It's also divided into three "discs", each timed at just shy of 80 minutes should anyone feel the need to burn these. And since there were some I couldn't decide between, like the Bowie project each volume is bracketed by dual covers: "Creep" for #1, "High and Dry" for #2, and (interestingly) "Street Spirit" for #3. I chose not to be a cover completist since what I'd already found came to exactly 4 hours of music. So please don't leave any suggestions, OK? I've heard enough R•diohead songs lately. 

The only album that is completely represented is OKComputer. BendsKidA, and Rainbows each have 7. Pablo and Amnesiac have 5, Hail and MoonShaped have 4, while KOL has three covers taken from it.

This collection sounds great! The only track that is a bit dodgy is John Frusciante's live version of "Lucky", but Jonder cleaned it up well. Everything else is a HQ mp3 file or was ripped from HQ video. Jonder helped big time, editing down some of the tracks. And his son went ahead and made covers for me. So, thanks boys. YOU ARE IN STORE FOR AWESOME, PEOPLE!!! And if you see a "YT", that is a link to that specific sourced YouTube vid. So, let's get the famous names out of the way....

Jimmy Eat World deliver a heart-on-the-sleeve version of "Stop Whispering", probably R•diohead's purest pop tune. Weezer [YT] perform a great cover of "Paranoid Android", though Rivers Cuomo does change some of the lyrics (harrumph). The Flaming Lips deliver a wistful version of "Knives Out", from their Fight Test EPAnd Gnarls Barkley's [---] cover of "Reckoner", maaaan.... if you've ever doubted Ceelo Green, just hear those first notes he sings; your hair will stand up!

Deadmau5's great cover of "Codex" sounds like it could be in a Michael Mann movie. The faithful cover of "The Bends" is by none other than Anthrax, from their 1998 Inside Out EP. And oh boy, everybody sit down.... That devastating, killer version of "Optimistic" is performed by Hanson. Yes, HANSON. Give it a listen, you'll believe! And as mentioned earlier, John Frusciante does a great version of "Lucky".

And after auditioning many (MANY!) versions of "Creep", one of the ones I picked was the one by Korn [---], from their 2007 Un-plugged show. The intro is touching, and the performance is very nuanced. It's interesting that they use the bass drum to replace the stuttered chords at the start of the chorus. And also oddly, none of the other "Creep" covers I listened to attempted to try the riff either. And - a nice surprise here - I have Toots and the Maytals performing a sunny version of "Let Down".
And that's it for famous people. Now, the unknown ensemble groups perform some of the best covers here. The R•diohead Ensemble of the Berklee School of Music is featured twice [YT], [YT ], turning in a sexy and ethereal "Nude", as well as a great "Morning Bell". Also coming from academia, there is the R•diohead Jazz Project of Lawrence University, [YT] performing a groovy, brass-led rendition of "Bodysnatchers". Check out the videos for these three.
The Paul Dunton Orchestra [YT] performs a driving cover of "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", that also has great vocals! The Portland Cello Project (feat Adam Shearer) [YT] absolutely blow "Exit Music (For A Film)" out of the water, just amazing! And the version of "Black Star" is by a non-audition public choir from Victoria, BC called... um, The Choir [YT]. The first time I watched the video this came from, I wept. It was just so moving to see this big group of regular people covering such a personal, singular song. That was when I committed to this comp having the aesthetic that it does. And lastly, the piano-and-opera-vocal version of "I Will" is by Monta Martinsone and Artyom Musaelov [YT]

Austin group Mother Falcon released a front-to-back cover album of OK that was called MF Computer, which I grabbed two tracks from, "Fitter Happier", and a version of "Electioneering" that manages to rock even without guitars! The Easy Star All Stars' dub reggae cover of "Climbing Up the Walls" still manages to carry some real menace, and comes from their album called (heh) RadiodreadSecret Society's faithful-yet-dance-ish cover of "Planet Telex" comes from the tribute album Anyone Can Play R•diohead.

From the (online only?) tribute Exit Music: Songs With Radio Heads, a group called L.O. Freq performs a moody, acoustic cover of "Blow Out". And to honor the three (!) different string quartet R•diohead tributes, I chose the Vitamin String Quartet's version of "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi". And did you know there have been two R•diohead lullaby music tributes? From the Rockabye Baby one, I chose a sonically beautiful rendition of "There There". Great on headphones!

Multi-instrumentalist Marissa Nadler sings an even-wearier cover of "No Surprises" that I just love. I get goosebumps every time I hear it. Cut from the same cloth is Camille O'Sullivan's heartbreaking and dreamy version of "True Love Waits". My God! That track is from her album ChangelingBella Ruse [YT ] sings an equally haunting "Like Spinning Plates". These gals just nail it!

Two more good covers come from R•diohead's most recent album MoonShapedPoolLlargo's [YT] cover of "Daydreaming" is beautiful with that ethereal guitar sound. And metal band Johari [----] deliver a smashing, Isis-tinged take of "Burn the Witch". The album only came out a few months ago, and there's already great interpretations out there!

I'm not familiar with iLonely and Sombra, but I like their acoustic version of "You and Whose Army?" Tanya O'Callaghan [YT ]and friends perform a "15 Step" with real soulful vocals, while still holding a tech-sounding edge. For a change of pace, the group Children Slyness drops a very dubstep cover of "Pearly". The kids should love it...

Belém - who I think is the singer for a Spanish group, hard to find info - drops a faithful acoustic version of "Thinking About You". I don't know the group Blizzar B [YT ], but that's a great close-harmony take of "2+2=5". UK singer-songwriter Daniel Cavanagh performs a tender and moving "How To Disappear Completely", from his album Memory & Meaning.


Did you know KidA and Amnesiac were secretly jazz albums? Given the workout that "National Anthem" and "Pyramid Song" are given, I think so. Atomic's "Pyramid" is a nice post-bop kind of take - sounding like Miles in '63 - and Perhaps Contraption's "Anthem" has a stomping groove. Also in a jazz vein is Postmodern Jukebox ft. Hayley Reinhart's [YT] cover of "Creep". It's a torch song reading, but for me it still goes to the forlorn longing of the original...gorgeous!

And yes, I know of Richard Cheese's cover of "Creep", but I didn't want to go funny with that song. But to acknowledge his love of the group - I particularly like the cover of his album OK Bartender - I used his version of "Airbag" to start everything off strange.


This is kind of a blanket term I'm using to refer to the amateurs and pros here who performed their songs at home. I was gonna avoid homemade versions initially (type in "Creep" and "acoustic", I dare ya). However, I came across many songs (most of them studio-quality), that I liked very much. And I wanted the comp to reflect that aspect of how everybody, even everyday people, have taken R•diohead to heart.

Hayley Richman [---] has many covers of R•diohead songs on YouTube, with a lot of views, so I wanted to use her at some point. So, I picked her cover of "Identikit". It's a good version; I like her voice, reminds me of an Icelandic singer almost. And check that photo: gal's got a nice pad! Tara Rice [YT] delivers a great homemade cover of "Lotus Flower". The video is cool; it shows her doing all the percussion herself.
I had a hell of a time trying to find "Anyone Can Play Guitar". Even harder given that there's a web instruction show called that! Finally found this version by the Rocket Brothers [YT ]. I can only assume it's home studio stuff. Well recorded, and the guy's got a great voice, though European diction on some words, German maybe? Sounds of Venus [YT] is another small group, and their acoustic cover of "Give Up the Ghost" has some really haunting (pun, sorry) vocal harmonies.

The cover song that made me change my mind about homemade solo acoustic performances is the cover of "High and Dry" here by a girl named Kayla L [YT]. It's gotten 41,000 views, it's played with heart, and I really like her earnest, elfin, almost weightless singing voice. Great version, and you gotta admit, she's easy on the eyes...


Somehow, ukuleles and banjos weave their way through these discs, even more than the jazz. First up is a reappearance of Amanda Palmer, performing "Fake Plastic Trees", from that R•diohead uke tribute disc of hers I'd posted last year. From Denver, CO comes the Ooks of Hazzard [---], an 8 piece folk band who deliver a great version of "Subterranean Homesick Alien". Singer Sarah Jarosz (also a uke player) performs a dynamite cover of "The Tourist".

Meghan Linsey [YT] does a great traditional country version of "High and Dry". I love how the guitar line is played on the violin. The group Punch Brothers - who have several R•diohead covers out there - do a killer version of "Kid A", all with mandolins and ukuleles. I love the way they replicate those electro sounds with these acoustic instruments. 

The last track in this section I'll talk about is my favorite of the whole collection: Birds Of Bellwoodsastounding cover of "Idioteque". B.O.B. (YT) are a Canadian quartet (guitar, mandolin, banjo, cello/bass) who do covers and originals in unique arrangements. The way they adapt the original song to their style (check that palm-muted banjo), as well as keeping the rhythmic complexity of it, amazes me. I love the opening, where they're all drumming on their instruments. Their singing harmony is great, too. These boys are goood!


English/Pakistani group Bat For Lashes perform a moving live version of "All I Need". The "Tao" Church Choir [YT] of Tblisi, Georgia (country, not state) do an a capella cover of "Everything In It's Right Place" that you just gotta hear! The way they're all modulating their voices is very striking. R&B singer Muhsinah does a rhythmically driving version of "Scatterbrain". Tel Aviv pop star Shefita [YT] performs a quite different Middle Eastern take on "Karma Police", featuring traditional instruments like the oud. Pianist Christopher O'Riley does a great instrumental version of "Bulletproof".

The two versions of "Street Spirit" may seem the same, but they're not. The one by Manuja feat. Dimaestro that opens disc 3 is a moodily beautiful Spanish acoustic cut. The one by the (generically named?) Djambe Band is recorded off the street somewhere in Africa maybe, and features some traditional sounding instruments, and is spookier. And I couldn't resist this whole compilation ending with the sound of somebody turning off a tape. The boys would appreciate that, I think.

Hope you guys like this; I'm really proud of it! Tracks compiled from July 28-31st....three days! (I have no life). Text finished August 3rd. Any time between that and posting will be figuring how the hell to sequence this! And if any of the people featured here object to their inclusion, please try to take this in the spirit in which it was made. I love R•diohead, you love R•diohead... I just wanna show the world!

To round out the "Covers Anniversary", there will be some more random cover projects coming (Eighties covers, re-posting of old comps), but this one is the JEWEL.

And since I forgot to put them on the comp, check out this performance by Acoustic Madness of "I Might Be Wrong" - YT

And here's a great performance of a guy doing "15 Step" using only his iPhone! - YT

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