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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Talent Borrows, Genius Steals

posted by on April 22 at 11:54 AM


After a couple decades of lazy avoidance, I recently spent some quality time with the recorded output of Talk Talk and the Fall, and learned some things that are probably common knowledge to many but were new to me.

Lesson one: Radiohead owes Talk Talk a gazillion dollars.

Lesson two: For the duration of 1992, Pavement (pictured above) was essentially a Fall cover band (and one that didn’t even bother to come up with a clever “Hell’s Belles” pun-style name.)

For proof of lesson one, consult Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock.

For proof of lesson two, consult the Fall’s “New Face in Hell.”

That is all.

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uh, yeah.

Posted by chops | April 22, 2008 12:30 PM

Yes, I understand my revelations are on par with "Pizza is delicious!' but still, I was shocked--SHOCKED!--at how the entire template for KId A/Amnesiac was laid out by Talk Talk, who seem to have never been given proper credit...

Posted by David Schmader | April 22, 2008 12:35 PM

Excellent! I have always thought that those two TALK TALK albums 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock' were underrated gems.

Nice work David.

Posted by Nik | April 22, 2008 12:50 PM

okay, david.

i'll agree that though it's been mentioned here and there, the talk talk comparison gets way less attention than it probably should.

the pavement/the fall comparisons were rampant right out of the gate with the release of S&E, though. including from the band themselves.

Posted by chops | April 22, 2008 1:01 PM

4: True, and the commonness of the Pavement/Fall connection made me think for years it wasn't worth investigating. I figured the first Pavement records sounded like the Fall in the same way the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record sounds like the Feelies, and assumed the style-heisting was done with at least a little finesse on the part of Pavement (who I love).

But no, in the case of "New Face in Hell" and "Fame Throwa," it's a straight-up rip, as shameless as Stone Temple Pilots ripping of Pearl Jam...weird...

Posted by David Schmader | April 22, 2008 1:12 PM

Yes - Spirit of Eden was basically a decade ahead of it's time. Mark Hollis is/was a genius (kinda went batty after a few albums tho'?). But no one really has rights on acoustic emotional landscapes (Pink Floyd, Beatles, Billie Holiday)...

As for the Fall, they were alot more post-punk pop than Pavement. I think the comparisons are at the lyricist level only. Musically, a different animal (especially btwn 77-84)...

Posted by yerbamatty | April 22, 2008 1:16 PM

It's "Two States" that rips off "New Face in Hell", not "Fame Throwa". The strangled, tinny, squealy guitar playing is definitely an aesthetic shared by early Fall and early Pavement alike. The Fall were always more acidic in their lyrics or in Mark E. Smith's introduction from one of their countless live albums, "We are The Fall-uh and the difference between us and you is that we have brains-uh!" Nice.

Another hilarious comparison:

"Spin the Black Circle" and "Beyond the Threshold" by Husker Du

Posted by danmohr | April 22, 2008 1:38 PM

@ 6 & 5:

david's right--there are actual musical connections between the fall and pavement on slanted, and particularly the very specific new face in hell/jackals/false grails rip. most crits only pointed to the vocal delivery and stylings, but there were other musical similarities here and there, besides the one complete rip.

my point though, was that even malkmus and kannberg pointed that out themselves. "we are ripping of a fall song here!"

but they left the fall behind quickly thereafter.

the talk talk thing is more interesting, because you hear it posed more the other way around: 'if you like radiohead, you should check out talk talk.' later overviews of talk talk note radiohead, but reviews of radiohead to mention talk talk.

Posted by chops | April 22, 2008 1:42 PM

oh, yeah:
it's conduit for sale that directly rips. oh, whatever.

Posted by chops | April 22, 2008 1:50 PM

Not to belabor the point, but "Garden" is essentially Slanted and Enchanted in a nutshell. Also, you have to throw in a heavy VU influence.

Posted by Joshua h | April 22, 2008 2:14 PM

Lesson one: Pablo Honey, The Bends, OK Computer = Radiohead

Lesson two: Kid A, Amnesiac = Who the hell are you and what did you do with Radiohead?

Lesson three: Hail to the Thief = Ok, I guess that will have to do

Lesson four: In Rainbows = ???

Posted by w7ngman | April 22, 2008 2:39 PM

Specifically to belabor the point, I'd like to point out that Pavement's Fall "tributes" are entirely forgivable and even lovableóPavement had no idea that the world would perv out over their baby droppings, and as soon as they realized people were taking them seriously, they got to work making music that was totally their own.

By the way, when's the last time you listened to Terror Twilight? It's so much better than you remember.

Posted by David Schmader | April 22, 2008 2:45 PM

I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, but anyone who prefers The Bends to Kid A (or Amnesiac) should be shot.

Posted by David Schmader | April 22, 2008 2:48 PM

Insufferable pseudo-hipsters that only like Radiohead because of Kid A (or worse, Amnesiac) should be shot.

Posted by w7ngman | April 22, 2008 3:31 PM

Insufferable pseudo-hipsters that only like Radiohead because of Kid A (or worse, Amnesiac) should be shot.

Not only, just primarily.

Pistols at dawn!

Posted by David Schmader | April 22, 2008 3:50 PM

[i]The Bends[/i] is worth a legion of anything the band did afterwards, apart from, one could argue, the best moments of [i]O.K. Computer[/i].

Not only did [i]The Bends[/i] legitimize a band from lumbering ridiculousness, a single-handed recovery move that almost never happens (and certainly needs to happen again), it also spawned Muse, who learned the right lessons from it and have been taking the whole thing, cover-band like, to even more unpretentious, over-the-top levels since.

Posted by Fawkes | April 22, 2008 4:10 PM

Bracket, slash, bracket.

Posted by Fawkes | April 22, 2008 4:11 PM

Maybe Radiohead owes CAN and Jeff Buckley too.
Still doesn't detract from my enjoyment of them.
As far as Pavement and the Fall. Some similarities but what makes them great are their individual attributes.

Posted by Biggie J | April 22, 2008 4:27 PM

Don't get me wrong, David, I'm not just trying to diss people that enjoy Kid A and Amnesiac. I thouroughly enjoy Kid A, moreso than I used to when I was hardcore into the "trilogy" (I do think Amnesiac is pretty much crap, though). My point is that comparing Pablo Honey/The Bends/OK Computer with Kid A/Amnesiac is like comparing apples to oranges. It's hard to be a Radiohead fan because it's almost like there are two completely different bands with the same name. Like Genesis. Or Pink Floyd, only with the same members.

One claming to be a Radiohead fan should at least be familiar with all of their work. There's nothing I hate more than hearing something like "Ohh yeah, I *love* Radiohead. Wait, what's OK Computer?"

Posted by w7ngman | April 22, 2008 4:41 PM

@18 i completely agree. i was gonna draw comparisons earlier on in this thread between "Oh Yeah" off of Tago Mago and "Everything In Its Right Place" but thought maybe it was just the shared backward vocal intro that was making that connection in my brain.

Posted by brian cook | April 22, 2008 4:42 PM

@19: I'm commenting from a somewhat uninformed position, as someone who was obsessed with Radiohead throughout high school but didn't read much critical writing about them, leaving me unaware of general cultural consensus about them. I never saw the first three albums as a trilogy, and felt like for the most part every album was a dramatic departure from the previous one. In a way, though, isn't that what a band is supposed to do? To not paint themselves into a stylistic corner?
Regardless, I haven't heard these Talk Talk albums so I'm downloading them now.

Posted by eustaceia | April 22, 2008 6:41 PM

If you dig Talk Talk, the Mark Hollis solo record is a revelation. Anyone recommend music similar to *that* gets my vote, because I can't think of an album to compare it to.

Posted by Tom Harpel | April 22, 2008 7:40 PM

Amen to the Talk Talk props. "Laughingstock" is one of the best albums ever recorded. Period.

The bassist for Talk Talk had a one-off group with Beth Gibbons from Portishead called Rustin Man. Sounds somewhat unsuprisingly like a cross between Portishead and Talk Talk. I enjoyed it...

As for Radiohead ripping people off, when I first listened to "The Bends" my first impression was wow! this Thom Yorke guy has really been a-listening to Jeff Buckley. And I can still hear that influence on "In Rainbows." Unsuprisingly again, I've never heard Mr. Yorke mention Talk Talk or Jeff Buckley in any interviews.

Posted by Gigi | April 22, 2008 11:49 PM

@23 and @18 : Little Tidbit I wanted to share. According to an interview in 95 with Thom Yorke the vocal for Fake Plastic Trees, perhaps my favourite Radiohead song, was recorded by Thom Yorke in two takes after seeing Jeff Buckley perform. After the vocals were laid down, Thom Yorke apparently broke down into tears.

In a book about Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke is noted as being in awe of Jeff's vocal style. I just thought the above scene was magnificent.

Posted by Jardy on 15th | April 23, 2008 10:39 AM

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