When you’ve got a catalogue of songs like Radiohead have, there is very little reason to cover anybody else’s material when performing a live show. Yet there’s something about how Radiohead approach covers that make them endlessly appealing.
We were thrilled to find this rarely seen cover of Carly Simon’s James Bond theme tune ‘Nobody Does It Better’ from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. The video below shows Radiohead take on the track as part of a TV appearance on MTV London.
Radiohead have taken on their fair share of covers in their time. From Joy Division’s ‘Ceremony’ to Bjork’s masterpiece ‘Unravel’, the Oxford band aren’t afraid to put their own spin on a classic. But these kinds of covers are reserved for webcasts and other one-time-only appearances and very rarely for a live audience.
We let out an audible gasp when we stumbled upon this video of the band giving the Bond theme tune the Radiohead makeover. The clip sees Thom Yorke and co give a rousing debut of the cover during an MTV appearance in support of their recent record The Bends. The band would go on to perform the song during their tour that same year and even pick it back up a few years later when supporting OK Computer with a tour.
In total the band played the song sixteen times across the years. Simon’s performance is a searing and sultry affirmation and adds a degree of extra gravitas to the track, which is essentially a song dedicated to the sexual prowess of James Bond. It clearly resonated with a young Thom Yorke, as in 1995 he described the track as the “sexiest song ever written” at a show while on tour.
The band could’ve been playing a Bond theme tune for many more years had they not been snubbed at the last minute in favour of Sam Smith. In 2015, the band put up their song ‘Spectre’ for the James Bond film of the same name against Smith’s ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ with the popstar taking the role of singing the secret agent’s theme tune.
The Radiohead song is largely considered to be a superior effort than that of Smith’s but we’re not sure it’s as good as this cover of Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ from 1995. Watch below: