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Baker's Dozen

Coming Up With The Sunshine: Radio-Ed O'Brien's Favourite Music
Jude Rogers , April 22nd, 2020 08:15

Radiohead's Ed O'Brien marks the release of his solo album as EOB by talking to Jude Rogers about 13 favourite pieces of music, from Led Zep to Talk Talk, a longstanding love of Brazil, and Primal Scream

As origin stories go, Radiohead's is entertainingly un-rock & roll. A boy playing Lysander in his public school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (an already impossibly tall Ed O'Brien) found a friend in the pupil in charge of its score (a disgruntled Thom Yorke, who later swore at their teacher). Along with Colin Greenwood, Colin's younger brother, Jonny, and Phil Selway, they began playing together on Fridays, after school, in their music room. This connection has now lasted nine albums, many tours, and 35 years.

O'Brien's decision to record solo material, however, made him feel awkward. He tackles head-on in his debut album's press release: "Thom, Jonny and Phillip were making music. The last thing the world needed was a shit album by me." He had never felt driven to be a solo artist before, his teenage kids were getting older, and he suddenly he felt compelled to get going. 

Where he'd moved to helped, too: Wales' remote Cambrian Mountains. He talks about it with a spiritual fervour that could verge at any moment into being full-on Spinal Tap, but he manages to remain in the realm of boyish glee. "It's been a bit like falling like love, moving here," he says, sounding more like 25 than 52. He's hard to stop talking as well, not that you'd want him to.

This delight also shimmers through Earth, his LP, which he recorded as EOB. It's hugely inspired by Brazilian music, which he got into while living in the country for seven months seven years ago; he had a eureka moment while experiencing carnival, he says, realising he wanted to make music full of joy. It also has weighty personnel. Flood produces, Laura Marling sings on it ("it was so lovely to be with someone so experienced at songwriting," he says, before quickly adding, "other than Thom, of course") and Portishead's Adrian Utley and The Invisible's Dave Okumu also contribute.

"All these amazing people took my phone-call, which made me feel totally unworthy," he says. He sounds so genuinely flabbergasted that you believe him. "It also made me realise – although this might sound totally ridiculous – that Radiohead have a standing that I haven't really thought about before. I'm ridiculously lucky. It's really nice to share that love."

EOB's Earth is out now, click the image of Ed below to begin reading his Baker's Dozen

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