Analogue Music | Anyone Can Play Guitar: 10 Great Lesser Known…

Anyone Can Play Guitar: 10 Great Lesser Known Radiohead Songs

By Tyler Clark

To many people, they’ll always be the “Creep” band.

It doesn’t matter that Radiohead followed up the 1993 hit with several other major and (more often than not) minor hits including “Karma Police”, “High and Dry” and “There There”. It doesn’t matter that their 1997 album OK Computer is one of the most acclaimed albums of their ‘90s. It also doesn’t matter that both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork named their 2000 album Kid A as the best album of the ‘00s.

They’re still the “Creep” band. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Despite Radiohead (and their fans) distancing themselves from the song for years, it’s a legitimate banger. It remains an excellent max-volume sing-along.

That’s the rub with bands like Radiohead. Their Mount Rushmore songs tend to overshadow a catalog full of fantastic, lesser-known tunes. The Radiohead well runs deep. Some of these were released as single B-sides or on EPs. Others were simply overshadowed on studio albums.

Let’s go beyond “Creep” and “Karma Police” and “No Surprises” to look at some less-appreciated Radiohead songs.

"Lurgee" (Pablo Honey, 1993)

"Lurgee" has the unfortunate distinction of being the least streamed song (according to Spotify) on Radiohead's least regarded album. Although Pablo Honey has gained a growing number of defenders in recent years, it will always be remembered as the "Radiohead before they were really Radiohead" album. Buried toward the end is the beautiful, wistful "Lurgee". It manages to sound both like the band’s shoegaze influences and its The Bends future.

“Sulk(The Bends, 1995)

Like "Lurgee", "Sulk" is both the penultimate and least streamed song on its album. The Bends features many songs in which Thom Yorke's vocals soar, but he really lets loose here. While it is ultimately a pretty simple song, Colin Greenwood's bass is the song's understated driving force.

“Lift(OK Computer OKNOTOK, 1996)

Thom Yorke's music is highly emotional while rarely feeling very personal. Listeners seldom get a look behind the curtain. For that reason, when he refers to himself by name—"You've been stuck in a lift. We've been trying to reach you, Thom"—it is one of the most transparent and moving moments in the band's catalog. "Lift" had the potential to be a Brit-pop smash— conventional alt-rock with a booming chorus—which is probably why they shelved it for nearly 21 years. Nevertheless, it gained a following among fans as a bootleg favorite.

“Palo Alto(B-side, “No Surprises” single, 1998)

A few years before swapping their guitars for theremins and homemade computers, Radiohead showed that they were capable of simply being a damn good crunchy rock 'n' roll outfit. They point their dreary English disposition at sunny California with "Palo Alto". Despite Radiohead’s reputation as a studio band, this is a song built to be played live, with raucous and uncharacteristic swagger.

Cuttooth (B-side,“Knives Out” single, 2001)

"Cuttooth" isn't one of Radiohead's finer lesser-known songs. It's one of their best. Period. The perfect words to describe it are ones rarely used for Radiohead: Lively. Exciting. Fun. Released in 2001, it points an arrow toward the more dance-oriented music that the band and its members will explore in years to come.

“Worrywort(Amnesiac, 2001)

Existing somewhere between Bjork and ‘80s ambient, “Worrywort” is a lovely, romantic song filled with blips and bloops. This might be the band's strongest evidence that they could lean heavily into digitally-created music without losing its soul and beauty. Habitually ahead of its time, Radiohead may have inadvertently invented chillwave with this.

"Like Spinning Plates (Live)(B-side, “I Might Be Wrong” single, 2001)

The studio Amnesiac version of “Like Spinning Plates” is a beautiful if self-indulgent electronic dirge. The live version stripped away all of the backmasking and distractions to reinvent the song as a piano ballad. The original is fine, but it gets bogged down in excess. By letting its melody shine, the simple version becomes the superior one.

"A Wolf at the Door(Hail To The Thief, 2003)

Calling a song with 26 million Spotify plays “lesser known” is admittedly a bit of a stretch, but this should be considered a top-tier Radiohead song. Their albums tend to end with a romantic moment of catharsis. Hail To The Thief, to say the least, does not. It’s a musical haunted house with one of Yorke’s most unusual vocal performances, a thumping speak/sing that borders on rapping. It’s a killer that explodes before petering out.

"Give Up The Ghost" (The King of Limbs, 2011)

While The King of Limbs is often regarded as Radiohead’s most forgettable album, “Give Up The Ghost” rises above its surroundings. Bare, layered, and lush, it samples Yorke’s vocals to create a haunting, repetitive background that the rest of the song sits on top of.

"Decks Dark" (A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016)

For all of the “outer space electro-paranoia” reputation that the band has—and “Decks Dark” itself directly references “a spacecraft blocking out the sky”—Radiohead has a handful of tunes that just groove. “Decks Dark” starts with a twinking, fairytale piano before the band drops into a stellar, jangly jam.