Hear Radiohead's Thom Yorke Impersonate Morrissey in an Unreleased Track

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 9 2012 12:13 PM

Did You See This? Another Unreleased Song From Before Radiohead Was Radiohead

Thom Yorke of Radiohead
Thom Yorke performs with Radiohead at the Glastonbury Music Festival in June 2011. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Radiohead often seems otherworldly, so glimpsing their earthly influences can feel surprising. On a demo from Radiohead’s earlier incarnation, On A Friday, they sound less like The Most Important Band In The World than a Smiths tribute band. A teenaged Thom Yorke does a pretty convincing Morrissey, while the rest of the band kicks out a rhythm track and a jangly guitar sound straight out of “This Charming Man.”

The track, which was uploaded yesterday, is the latest to make its way to the internet from a demo tape the band recorded in 1986. YouTube user klootme previously posted three other recordings from the tape, which she says she got from her husband, who attended the Abingdon boarding school with the band.

Radiohead themselves have been open in their adoration for The Smiths, whose song “The Headmaster Ritual” they covered during a special webcast in 2007. Of course lately it’s Radiohead who’ve been the ones to get imitated: A recording posted on blogs over Christmas was thought to be a lost Radiohead song the 1990s, but some dutiful reporting from CNN revealed that the true composer was just a baker in Toronto.


UPDATE, Jan. 9, 2012: The same YouTube user has just posted a fifth demo track under the title "Lemming Trail." The sax-heavy rocker is a little less The Smiths and a lot more Peter Gunn.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.