This is an album of piano-led Radiohead covers; I couldn’t say I was enthusiastic about reviewing this before I stuck the disc into my player, but O’Riley turns tracks that were originally the height of pretension into nuanced and emotion-filled tracks. The impressive thing about “Hold Me To This” is O’Riley’s ability to maintain relevance over some of the longer tracks (Cuttooth, Talk Radio Host) without anything more than eir piano. While many of the tracks on “Hold Me to This” are non-single tracks, some of the singles (No Surprises, Paranoid Android) will be cause for listeners to stand up and take attention. What O’Riley really does on this disc is show the framework of many a Radiohead song, and in a way shows that the band is much more pedestrian than one would think; O’Riley distills the essence of Radiohead into piano, and it shouldn’t be shocking that some of these distillations sound considerably like normal “popular” fare. Tracks like “How I Made My Millions” move into the realm of incidental music; perfect for a montage in a movie, full of emotional weight that is best shown when the deepest tones of the piano hit the ears.
The nigh-hour run-time of “Hold Me To This” is daunting, and while fans of either O’Riley or Radiohead will need to pick up this album, this is not necessarily an album for a hip and happening party. Rather, it really makes its way into the realm of collector’s albums, of musicophile’s albums that need the highest-end system and headphones to fully “get” it. “Paranoid Android”, after being given the treatment by O’Riley does not seem to havce the disturbing quality that was given the track by Thom Yorke’s voice. While there is considerably emotional engagement through the rapidly chaotic piano lines, O’Riley is just not able to simultaneously take on both vocal and instrumental aspects. The song structure is pristine, and the piano’s bass-like quality allow for drums, bass and piano to be recreated but the x-factor – Yorke’s voice just cannot be accurately be restored for this, a track that I feel is Radiohead’s magnum opus.
The mix of songs, pulling from a number of albums really shows a concerted effort by O’Riley to create a specific atmosphere to “Hold Me To This”. Ending the disc with “Street Spirit”, this second compilation of Radiohead tracks by O’Riley fades off intot the disc, with listeners enervated from all they’ve put into the disc.
Top Tracks: No Surprises, Street Spirit
Christopher O’Riley – Hold Me To This / 2005 World Village / 13 Tracks / http://www.christopheroriley.com / http://www.worldvillagemusic.com / Reviewed 29 April 2005