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.

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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. Email him at Forrest.Wickman@slate.com.