Saturday, March 10, 2007

These people aren't your friends, they're paid to kiss your feet

It all began with Pablo Honey.

Radiohead's debut album launched them into the public eye, particularly with the unexpected success in the US of the single Creep. Ironically, Radio 1 initially found the song too depressing for air play and pulled it from rotation after only a couple of airings. The American release of Pablo Honey contains a clean version of Creep as a bonus track, in which the phrase "you're so fucking special" is replaced with "you're so very special" for radio edit, which seems so trivial now.

While Creep was responsible for Radiohead capturing the world's attention, it also earned them the unwarrented label of complaint rockers and one-hit wonders who were capitalizing on the loser/slacker chic ushered in by grunge. The band, Thom in particular, were so heartily sick of the song and the expectations that they play it at every concert, that they did not play it live from 1998 till 2001.

Pablo Honey is heavily guitar-driven and pop-rock oriented, and considerably removed from the band's current sound and emphasis on experimentation. You can, however, still hear the beginnings of some of their signature sounds, in particular Thom's impassioned vocals, often in falsetto.


To me, the sign of a good film is when I turn to my companions while the closing credits are rolling and say "I want to see that again". Brothers of the Head not only drew that reaction from all of us last weekend, but we decided that rather than returning it to the video store, we would keep it for another week and watch it again tonight. That's how guuuud it is.

It is without question one of the most unconventional and provocative films I have seen in a long time. Brothers of the Head is a faux documentary (not to be confused with a mockumentary, because this is not a satire). The premise of the film is that it is the making of a documentary film about the making of an art film, which was based upon a book about the story of conjoined twins who briefly became rock stars. Confused yet? It's actually not as confusing as it sounds.

In Brothers of the Head, conjoined twins Tom and Barry Howe are taken from their isolated childhood home in mid 70s Britain and groomed by a music promoter to be a rock and roll act, guaranteed to draw crowds simply on the basis of their freak appeal. The fact that they become accomplished musicians with credible talent, musicians who are brightly burning flames in the proto-punk movement, only lends pathos to the story of their destruction. (I'm not giving away any spoilers; their fate is evident very early on in the film).

To me the truly astounding part, aside from the highly unusual structure of this film, is the real musical talent displayed. Harry and Luke Treadaway, who portray the twins, actually perform the music live. (The soundboom man for the film apparently dressed in period clothes during filming so as not to distract from the performances.) The music is highly authentic sounding and very raw pre-punk. I am going to buy this soundtrack, no question.

Here's the trailer for Brothers of the Head:


justacoolcat said...

I guess I was a loser/slacker chic ushered in by grunge. I was sold the first time I heard Creep. I knew they would be more than the one hit wonder label they carried, but didn't know to what extent. I'm sure they surpassed even their own ambitions.

John Mutford said...

I saw this trailer for the first time last week. It looked great- glad to hear it lives up to the expectations. I must rent it!

Anonymous said...

Creep what a beautiful song... It's funny because the "blasts of guitar noise" that preceed the chorus was supposedly Johnny's way of trying to make the song unplayable on radio, as he thought the song was too slow and plodding. It's funny how key moments in songs come about by accident like that.

Woah, my verification "word" is oxedt... Detox??

Allison said...

Thank-you for pointing out the difference between a faux documentary and mockumentary. I have to stop renting more than one film at a time, as I've now rented Brothers of the Head twice, without watching it. I will have to change this fast, as from what you've said and from what I've read elsewhere it seems like a kick ass picture.

The word 'god' is in my word scramble. Yours is the only WV that produces funny results. Spreading that evil genius make sure we're all humans and such ;p

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'll bet you wish you had bought Radiohead shares back then, JustA. Yeah, I can't imagine that anyone could envision success at that level, regardless of how ambitious they are.

I really liked it a lot, John, even watching it twice in a week. It really fires the imagination.
Rent it, rent it now!

I love that story, Fearless, and hope it really happened that way. Those guitar chords really do define Creep and are my favourite bits. Way to go Jonny!
I don't think my wv is trying to tell you how to live your life or anything like that,but who knows, maybe it came with powers.

Allison, you are the subject matter expert on film - is there really a difference between faux documentary and mockumentary? I kinda just threw that out there.
You really have to devote an evening to Brothers of the Head, though. It's so worth it!
There goes that wv again, being all omnipotent and shit!

mellowlee said...

I just love the song Creep, but feel somehow guilty about that lol! I am going to rent brothers of the head asap!!!

Anonymous said...

I must of missed something but what's with the

Anonymous said...

As I was saying, what's with the word verification....And my keyboard doesn't have one of those wheelchair keys.
Plus, I am not sure if I am accidently typing in my PIN code for my Caymen Island account.
The voice over after you find the wheelchair key is kind of cool!
I believe there is a secret message but hell if I know what the dude is saying.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh Mel, don't let Thom intimidate you like that! I love Creep too.
Brothers of the Head is absolutely boffo. In fact I wanna watch it again.

Thanks for the Cayman Island PIN, Bruno. Who knew it would be so easy?
I had to put word verification on last week because I was getting scads and scads of spam and I finally snapped. I've never tried the wheelchair key thingy. Obviously I am missng out on a kinda big deal there.

Dale said...

I remember seeing the trailer for the film some time ago and my head tilted to one side like a dog's might, or like a conjoined twin's. I think I should see the film, looks trippy. And I don't want to be labelled a creep.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You gotta see it, Dale. It will make your head spin as well as tilt to one side.