One webcast will go down in musical history as one of the most important. Least of all because 2007 may have been the only time people used the word ‘webcast’, and most of all because it was Radiohead’s webcast, and as ever, it was a seminal moment in music for all involved.
Back in 2007, following the release of their critically acclaimed album In Rainbows Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead didn’t go out on tour immediately. No, instead the opted for something, which at the time, may have felt a little strange – they broadcast a series of in-studio webcasts via a stream.
Radiohead, a little ahead of their time in most situations, took this revolutionary idea of bypassing media stations and instead jumped at the chance to connect with fans directly and offer them some of their most memorable songs alongside some brilliant covers, including a deeply wonderful cover of Joy Division’s ‘Ceremony’ and an extremely special cover of what is one of Thom’s favourite records Bjork’s ‘Unravel’. But the song we’re revisiting today is the band’s near-perfect cover of The Smiths’ ‘The Headmaster Ritual’.
To cover The Smiths is an extremely bold move. Not just because Marr’s guitar is so idiosyncratic of the man himself, nor that Morrissey’s vocal is almost impossible to impersonate without causing offense – but because The Smiths are so insanely beloved that covering their work only ever normally ends in a downfall. Not on this occasion.
No, Radiohead, above all else, know how to play their instruments! So, on this occasion, the cover of
And, as you’d expect, he’s right. Thom Yorke’s vocal delivery pays respect to but is not an impersonation of Morrissey’s iconic tone, Jonny Greenwood’s guitar is almost identical in every way to Marr’s pace and rhythm and all in all it sees Radiohead have fun as they cover one of their favourite tunes from the years before they were superstars.
Take a listen below.