Darling, it hurts me
One could rationalize why this song wasn’t included on OK Computer*. While it has the tight evocative precision of other OKC tracks, thanks to the J. Greenwood/O’Brien double tom bash (which was resurrected a few years later for “There There”) and vaguely market-in-Cairo intro, it veers away thematically. A Third World girl’s predilection for rich white tourists with oh so straight, blindingly bright teeth? Oh boy.
As a B-side, “Pearly” is a catchy and expertly constructed gem. Despite the impromptu sounding intro (the buzz of a guitar, the tentative shaker), you get the feeling that each part was finely honed on the road and that when they went in to record it, it just came cleanly and easily, no wasted takes. Listen to the interplay just past the two minute mark, the bottom drops out and it’s just Yorke going up to falsetto and a single guitar. Then a second guitar snakes in, around the vocal, setting up a fierce bass drum thump before everyone comes back in, each part different than the other but partnered beautifully, like exquisite choreography.
Here’s a live version. How I wish the cameraman had panned out to include O’Brien, who works hard for the money on this jam, covering second drums, vocals and ambient guitar.
* The Airbag/How Am I Driving EP is SO GOOD. Any of those songs could have easily sat on OK Computer had the rest of the tracklisting not been so strong. Perhaps “Palo Alto”, despite carrying the OK theme, was deemed too cheery sounding, with too much Bendsian guitar crunch, “Polyethylene, Parts I and II” too bare and direct, “A Reminder” too ambient, too much space, more of a stand alone, and so on. They sound fantastic though and each song resonates. A highly recommended purchase. (On Amazon: Airbag/How Am I Driving?)
The Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP was my introduction to Radiohead. I had not heard them (not even “Creep”), but I had heard a lot about them, and lots of mentions of Pink Floyd and Genesis in reviews of OK Computer, so I wanted to check them out. I went to my local Circuit City, and this EP was $7.99, so I sprang for it rather than a more expensive album. The title track just about took my head off (it’s still one of my favorite songs), but I also really loved “Pearly” and remember really digging “Meeting in the Aisle,” too.
The artwork stands out in my memory, too—I didn’t think any of the content was all that interesting, but I loved the effort that had gone into it. It was a hop, skip, and a jump to gobbling up the band’s whole discography from here, including a bootleg with all the Pablo Honey and Bends-era b-sides that I found at a place near Harvard Square that was mostly bootlegs—does anyone who lived there in the 90s remember what that place was called? It had a blue sign and was on the lower, below-ground level of a two-level shopping bloc.
If you don’t follow One Week One Band, Daniella Joseph/Soft Communication's Radiohead coverage is the type of content that makes it worth following.