Pablo Honey

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Pablo Honey
Radiohead.pablohoney.albumart.jpg
Studio album by Radiohead
Released 22 February 1993
Recorded September – November 1992
Studio
Genre
Length 42:11
Label
Producer
Radiohead chronology
Drill
(1992)Drill1992
Pablo Honey
(1993)
Itch
(1994)Itch1994
Radiohead studio album chronology
Pablo Honey
(1993) Pablo Honey1993
The Bends
(1995) The Bends1995
Singles from Pablo Honey
  1. "Creep"
    Released: 21 September 1992
  2. "Anyone Can Play Guitar"
    Released: 1 February 1993
  3. "Stop Whispering"
    Released: 5 October 1993

Pablo Honey is the debut studio album by English rock band Radiohead, released on 22 February 1993 by Parlophone in the United Kingdom and by Capitol Records in the United States. The album was produced by Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie, and was recorded at Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire, England – except "I Can't" and "Lurgee", produced by the band's manager Chris Hufford at Courtyard Studio in Oxfordshire – from September to November 1992. The album's title comes from a Jerky Boys prank call skit in which the prank caller says to his victim, "Pablo, honey? Please come to Florida!" This is sampled on the song "How Do You?" which is the third track on the album.

The album received a generally favourable reception from critics, but some criticized its grunge sound as derivative and found certain songs underdeveloped. The work is often held in a negative light in comparison to the band's subsequent studio albums, though some retrospectives are positive toward it. The album produced three charting singles, "Anyone Can Play Guitar", "Stop Whispering", and perhaps the band's most well-known hit on mainstream radio, "Creep". Pablo Honey peaked at #22 on the UK Albums Chart, and was certified platinum in the UK and other countries.[citation needed]

Background and recording[edit]

After a long dormancy while the members attended university, the band On a Friday reconvened in the early 1990s, becoming fixtures on the local Oxford scene with a series of demo recordings and well attended live gigs, finally signing with EMI/Parlophone and changing their name to Radiohead. The band's first official release, the Drill EP, was produced by their managers Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge, and sold poorly. For their debut album, the band sought the production skills of Massachusetts-based Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, responsible for Dinosaur Jr. and Buffalo Tom albums of which they were fans.

Several months in advance of the album, the band came out with their debut single "Creep". According to bassist Colin Greenwood, "Creep" had been written by singer/rhythm guitarist Thom Yorke sometime in the late 1980s, while he was at Exeter University, and was shared with other members of the band, who were mostly very enthusiastic, citing the song as a reason to continue making music together. However, it was not included on any of their early '90s demo tapes and had not been a part of their live set. At the time, "Inside My Head" (which would later be released as a b-side to "Creep") was considered a good candidate for the band's lead single.

Sometime in 1992, the band began an impromptu performance of "Creep" at a recording session, referring to it as their "Scott Walker song" because it reminded them of one of their musical idols. Rumour states that Jonny Greenwood's famous guitar crunches in the chorus were supposedly an attempt to ruin a song he did not like. Producer Paul Kolderie stated that "Jonny played the piano at the end of the song and it was gorgeous" (though the piano was mixed in at the wrong time, the band decided to keep the take complete with mistake[clarification needed]). "Everyone who heard 'Creep' just started going insane. So that's what got us the job doing the album." As soon as their managers and producers realised the song was an original (not a Walker cover), other plans were put on the back burner, to the band's surprise, and "Creep" was released as a limited single to the public in late 1992. However, the single initially went nowhere. It was even blacklisted from BBC Radio 1 for being too depressing.[1]

In the meantime, the bulk of the album was recorded, in autumn 1992. Recording sessions were completed very quickly, as the band had been playing many of these songs for years. However, what ended up on Pablo Honey represents only a fraction of their On a Friday-era recorded material, with very little overlap with earlier demos. The album was once described by a Radiohead member as "Our greatest hits as an unsigned band", with smooth sonic textures, anthemic vocals, and walls of guitar noise. However, "Prove Yourself", which had led off Drill, reappears in a different recording, as do "You" and "Thinking About You" in reworked versions.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Contemporary reviews
Review scores
SourceRating
Entertainment WeeklyB[2]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[3]
NME7/10[4]
Q3/5 stars[5]
Select3/5[6]

In the heavy alternative musical climate of 1993, Pablo Honey did not receive particular attention. However, several publications were enthusiastic about the band's forthcoming debut release, with NME referring to Radiohead as "one of rock's brightest hopes."[4] Pablo Honey would not garner the widespread acclaim of Radiohead's subsequent releases, but received a generally favourable critical reaction. Remarking that "British teenagerhood has never been grumpier," Q felt that it was a "good" album whose "best bits rival Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and even the mighty Sugar."[5] NME's John Harris criticised the presence of certain tracks he deemed "forgettable", noting that "How Do You?" "breaks the momentum... horribly", but nonetheless called Pablo Honey "one of those flawed but satisfying debuts that suggests Radiohead's talents will really blossom later on."[4] The magazine placed the album at number 35 in its year-end list for 1993, describing it as "a throwback to a homegrown tradition of great guitar-band albums."[7]

In the United States, the band's debut single, "Creep", prompted industry observers and fans to draw parallels between Radiohead and Nirvana, with some even touting Radiohead as the "British Nirvana".[8] Several music publications gave Pablo Honey positive reviews. Billboard said of the album: "Certain tracks here may remind listeners of U2 (thanks largely to Thom E. Yorke's vocal mannerisms and overall guitar texturing), but lyrics have enough bite to make it on their own."[9] Marisa Fox of Entertainment Weekly opined that the album "mates Smiths-type self-consciousness with dramatic U2-like vocals and guitar, with Cure-style heavy but crunchy pop."[2] In a mixed review, Mario Mundoz of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the album "doesn't really deliver anything you haven't heard before, steering too close to Smiths-like melodies and trying ever so hard to be depressed in the way the Cure popularized. Occasionally, though, it does offer clever lyrics and good hooks."[3] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice did not recommend the album, but named "Creep" as a "choice cut".[10] Rolling Stone wrote in its year-end review that "what elevates them to fab charm is not only the feedback and strumming fury of their guitarwork and the dynamism of their whisper-to-a-scream song structures, which recall the Who by way of the early Jam, but the way their solid melodies and sing-along choruses resonate pop appeal."[11]

Legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[12]
The A.V. ClubB−[13]
Blender2/5 stars[14]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[15]
The Irish Times3/5 stars[16]
Pitchfork5.4/10[17]
Q3/5 stars[18]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2.5/5 stars[20]
Uncut3/5 stars[21]

Although Pablo Honey was not met with the critical fervour that Radiohead's later albums were, it has received praise in retrospective coverage. Lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has expressed the opinion that the album has been somewhat underrated since release.[22] In 1998, a Virgin poll saw Pablo Honey voted 100th in the all-time top 1000 albums,[23] while Q magazine readers voted it the 61st greatest album of all time.[24] In 2004, Q included "Lurgee" and "Blow Out" in a list of twenty essential, lesser-known Radiohead songs as part of their "1010 Songs You Must Own" feature.[25] In 2006, Classic Rock and its sister publication Metal Hammer included Pablo Honey in their "200 Greatest Albums of the 90's" list as one of the 20 greatest albums of 1993.[26] In 2008, Blender placed the album 82nd in a feature entitled "100 Albums You Must Own", writing: "Self hate couldn't have found a better British exemplification with this band's debut single, which hit the world as part of an album that constructed walls of crunchy guitar tones amidst the dark lyrical content."[27] In 2009, Amazon editors ranked Pablo Honey 26th in their "The 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time" list.[28]

Retrospectively, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called Pablo Honey "a promising collection that blends U2's anthemic rock with long, atmospheric instrumental passages and an enthralling triple-guitar attack that is alternately gentle and bracingly noisy. The group has difficulty writing a set of songs that are as compelling as their sound, but when they do hit the mark... the band achieves a rare power that is both visceral and intelligent."[12] In a 2008 review, Al Spicer of BBC Music described the album as Radiohead's "exploration of suburban, adolescent self-awareness", concluding: "It all resulted in a stunning blend that combined the best aspects of prog rock... with the plaintiveness of bedsit singer song-writing and the sound of expensive equipment thrashed at by experts. Though later albums were better received, this remains one of rock's most impressive debuts."[29] In a review for Amazon.com, critic Louis Pattison said of the album: "Pablo Honey... is much more than filler. 'Anyone Can Play Guitar' is certainly as good as 'Creep'; swathed in walls of feedback, it races blindly into an apocalyptic chorus, frontman Thom Yorke singing 'As the world turns and as London burns, I'll be standing on the beach with my guitar.' Certainly, indie-rock seldom got better than this".[30]

Nevertheless, the band have expressed reservations about the album. "Heaven forbid anyone should judge us on Pablo Honey," later remarked Ed O'Brien. "We were in hock to Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies up to our eyeballs."[31] In 2009, PopMatters' Mehan Jahasuriya criticized the album as "a hodgepodge of half-baked grunge, jangle-pop and stadium-ready alternative rock" and "nearly indistinguishable from other early ‘90s college rock throwaways, save for a few hints of greatness."[32] Over time, the band dropped many of the album's songs from live setlists. However, since the turn of the millennium, "You", "Creep", "Lurgee", and "Blow Out" have been performed on several occasions.[33]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Thom Yorke; all music composed by Radiohead (Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Phil Selway, Ed O'Brien and Colin Greenwood); except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."You"3:29
2."Creep" (music by Radiohead, Mike Hazlewood and Albert Hammond[34])3:56
3."How Do You?"2:12
4."Stop Whispering"5:26
5."Thinking About You"2:41
6."Anyone Can Play Guitar"3:38
7."Ripcord"3:10
8."Vegetable"3:13
9."Prove Yourself"2:25
10."I Can't"4:13
11."Lurgee"3:08
12."Blow Out"4:40

Personnel[edit]

Radiohead

Production

  • Sean Slade – production, engineering (tracks 1–9, 12), mixing
  • Paul Q. Kolderie – production, engineering (tracks 1–9, 12), mixing
  • Chris Hufford – production, engineering (tracks 10, 11)
  • Chris Blair – mastering

Design

  • Lisa Bunny Jones – paintings
  • Icon – design
  • Tom Sheehan – photography

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[35] Gold 30,000^
Australia (ARIA)[36] Gold 35,000^
Belgium (BEA)[37] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[38] 2× Platinum 200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[39] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[40] Platinum 1,520,000[41]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Melody Maker (September 1993)
  2. ^ a b Fox, Marisa (14 May 1993). "Pablo Honey". Entertainment Weekly. New York: 56. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Munoz, Mario (27 June 1993). "Radiohead, 'Pablo Honey,' Capitol". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Harris, John (13 March 1993). "Radiohead: Pablo Honey". NME. London: 33. 
  5. ^ a b "Radiohead: Pablo Honey". Q. London (79): 86. April 1993. 
  6. ^ Lamacq, Steve (April 1993). "Radiohead: Pablo Honey". Select. London (34): 80. 
  7. ^ "The Top 50 LPs Of 1993". NME. London: 67. 25 December 1993. 
  8. ^ Linder, Brian (24 March 2009). "Radiohead: Worst to Best". IGN Music. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Radiohead: Pablo Honey". Billboard. New York. 24 April 1993. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Radiohead: Pablo Honey". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. 
  11. ^ Evans, Paul (23 December 1993 – 6 January 1994). "1993 The Year In Recordings: Pablo Honey Radiohead". Rolling Stone. New York (672/673): 151. Archived from the original on 17 February 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2007. 
  12. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pablo Honey – Radiohead". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Modell, Josh (3 April 2009). "Radiohead". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  14. ^ Slaughter, James. "Radiohead: Pablo Honey". Blender. New York. Archived from the original on 17 August 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Radiohead". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. 
  16. ^ Clayton-Lea, Tony (3 April 2009). "Reissue". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  17. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (16 April 2009). "Radiohead: Pablo Honey: Collector's Edition / The Bends: Collector's Edition / OK Computer: Collector's Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Segal, Victoria (May 2009). "Radiohead". Q. London (274): 120–21. 
  19. ^ Hermes, Will (30 April 2009). "Pablo Honey (Collector's Edition)". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  20. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Radiohead". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 671–72. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  21. ^ Richards, Sam (8 April 2009). "Radiohead Reissues". Uncut. London. Retrieved 2 May 2017. 
  22. ^ Kening, Dan. "All Grown Up". Daily Herald. 29 March 1996. Retrieved 25 August 2010. Excerpt at nl.newsbank.com (fee required for complete article).
  23. ^ Maung, Carole Aye. "Beatles albums are top 3 of all time". Daily Mirror. 7 September 1998. Retrieved 23 August 2010. Archived at TheFreeLibrary.com.
  24. ^ "All Time Top 100 Albums". Q. February 1998. Archived at rocklistmusic.co.uk.
  25. ^ "1010 Songs You Must Own (Essential Artists #2 – Radiohead)". Q. September 2004. Archived at rocklistmusic.co.uk.
  26. ^ Classic Rock/Metal Hammer. "The 200 greatest albums of the 70s, 80s & 90s". March 2006. Archived at muzieklijstjes.nl.
  27. ^ "100 Albums You Must Own". Blender. New York (70). June 2008. 
  28. ^ "The 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time". Amazon.com. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  29. ^ Spicer, Al (2008). "Radiohead Pablo Honey Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  30. ^ Pattison, Louis. "Pablo Honey". Amazon.com. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  31. ^ Moran, Caitlin (July 1997). "I'm so glad they're getting more radio play than us". Select. London (85): 87. 
  32. ^ Jahasuriya, Mehan (15 March 2009). "Jigsaw Falling Into Place: Revisiting Radiohead's '90s Output". PopMatters. Retrieved 28 December 2015. 
  33. ^ "Radiohead tour archive: the gigography". Ateaseweb. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  34. ^ Wardle, Ben. "Get off Coldplay's case – similar songs can co-exist peacefully". Guardian.co.uk. 12 May 2009. Retrieved on 22 September 2010.
  35. ^ "Discos de oro y platino" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018. 
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2001 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved May 3, 2017. 
  37. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – albums 2007". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 24, 2018. 
  38. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Radiohead – PABLO HONEY". Music Canada. Retrieved May 3, 2017. 
  39. ^ "British album certifications – Radiohead – PABLO HONEY". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 3, 2017.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter PABLO HONEY in the search field and then press Enter.
  40. ^ "American album certifications – Radiohead – PABLO HONEY". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 3, 2017.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  41. ^ https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickdesantis/2016/05/10/radioheads-digital-album-sales-visualized/#40b286fd3a87