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This Is What Radiohead Sounded Like in High School


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Kevin Mazur/

Not that many people have heard of the band On a Friday. The group, which consisted of a handful of British boarding school students, formed in 1985 in their native Oxfordshire, played a few venues around town, and recorded a few demo tapes in their five years performing under the On a Friday moniker. Then they signed a record deal and were forced to change their name to Radiohead, and you know the rest. However, remnants from that bygone era in the band's history still exist, and this weekend, two of the earliest songs the band ever committed to tape, "Everybody Knows" and "Girl (In a Purple Dress)," surfaced out of the blue, 25 years after they were recorded.

Anyone who's heard 'OK Computer' or 'The King of Limbs', or even 'The Bends' for that matter, will find nothing familiar about these songs; since they're from the mid-80's, the tracks share more in common with the Cure and the Smiths than 'Kid A'. However, just when you think you've been hoaxed by false advertising, Radiohead's most distinct instrument, Thom Yorke's voice (presented here in its 18-year-old form), enters the frame:

"Everybody Knows"

According to the great Radiohead database Citizen Insane, "Girl (In a Purple Dress)" and "Everybody Knows" appeared on On a Friday's first demo cassette from 1986, which the band recorded in their music room at the Abingdon School they attended. This tape was also made before Jonny Greenwood joined the group as a full-time member. These tracks represent a remarkable time capsule of Radiohead when the group was just a bunch of teenagers messing around in high school, decades before they became the biggest rock band on the planet. Check out the horn on this cut, so jazzy:

"Girl (In a Purple Dress)":

If these songs are legit, they are the earliest Radiohead songs to ever surface: The internet is full of On a Friday tracks, like "What Is That You Say?" and "Give It Up" and "Phillipa Chicken," but most of those songs stem from 1990 and lay the groundwork for the band's debut album 'Pablo Honey'. The person who unearthed this demo tape, a YouTuber named klootme, was a one-time classmate of On a Friday and was given the demo back in the day. He promises to upload the remainder of the tracks from that first cassette in the future, so Radiohead fans will finally get to hear the unfortunately titled "Fat Girl" and something called "Lemming Trail." That should satisfy all those people who complain that Radiohead stopped using guitars and just play computers now.

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