Classic Radiohead Songs Re-Imagined as a Sci-Fi Book, Pulp Fiction Magazine & Other Nostalgic Artifacts

When we first checked in with artist and screen­writer Todd Alcott, he was immor­tal­iz­ing the work of stars who hit their stride in the 70s and 80s, as high­ly con­vinc­ing pulp nov­el and mag­a­zine cov­ers inspired by their most famous songs and lyrics. David Bowie’s “Young Amer­i­cans” yields an East of Eden-like blonde cou­ple reclin­ing in the grass. Talk­ing Heads’ “Life Dur­ing Wartime” becomes an erot­i­cal­ly vio­lent, or vio­lent­ly erot­ic, mag­a­zine that ain’t fool­ing around.

Next, we took a look at Alcott’s series of pulp cov­ers drawn from the work of Mr. Bob Dylan, bona fide god­fa­ther of clas­sic rock, a peri­od that gets a lion’s share of cov­ers in Alcott’s imag­i­na­tive Etsy rack, along­side oth­er new wave and punk bands like The Clash, The Smiths, and Joy Divi­sion. Look­ing at these devot­ed trib­utes to musi­cal giants of yore, ren­dered in ador­ing trib­utes to an even ear­li­er era’s aes­thet­ic, pro­duces the kind of “of course!” reac­tion that makes Alcott’s work so enjoy­able.

After all, pulp mag­a­zines and books are per­haps as respon­si­ble for the coun­ter­cul­ture as LSD, with their proud­ly sexy pos­es, over­heat­ed teen fan­tasies, and bondage gear. (Prince gets his own series, a true joy.) But Alcott has moved on to a crop of artists who first appeared in the 90s class of alter­na­tive bands—from PJ Har­vey, to Fiona Apple, to Nir­vana, to Neu­tral Milk Hotel, to, as you can see here, Radio­head, the most long-lived and inno­v­a­tive stars of the era.

How well does Alcot­t’s approach work with artists who hit the scene when pulp fic­tion turned into Pulp Fic­tion, appro­pri­at­ed in a wink­ing, exple­tive-filled splat­ter-fest that didn’t, tech­ni­cal­ly, require its audi­ence to know any­thing about pulp fic­tion? You’ll notice that Alcott has tak­en a nov­el approach to the con­cept in many cas­es (reimag­in­ing PJ Harvey’s “This is Love!” as a 50s grind­house flick, anoth­er genre that has been heav­i­ly Taran­ti­no-ized).

He con­verts Radiohead’s “Kid A” into that most trea­sured pub­li­ca­tion for futon-surf­ing hip­sters cir­ca 2000, the IKEA cat­a­log. “Video­tape” man­i­fests in lit­er­al fash­ion as one of the oughties’ many objects of con­sumer elec­tron­ics nos­tal­gia, the 120-minute VHS. And “Myx­o­mato­sis,” from 2003’s Hail to the Thief, appears as a 1970s cat book, an arti­fact many Radio­head fans at the turn of the mil­len­ni­um might trea­sure as both an iron­ic Tum­blr goof and a poignant reminder of child­hood.

The Radio­head series does not ful­ly aban­don the pulp look—“Karma Police,” for exam­ple, gets the detec­tive mag­a­zine treat­ment. But it does lean more heav­i­ly on lat­er-20th cen­tu­ry pro­duc­tions, like the 70s sci-fi cov­er of “Para­noid Android,” clear­ly inspired by Michael Crichton’s West­world. Moon-Shaped Pool’s “Burn the Witch,” on the oth­er hand, looks like a clas­sic 50s Ham­mer Hor­ror poster, but with a nod to Robin Hardy’s 1973 Wick­er Man. (Both Crich­ton and Hardy have like­wise been re-imag­ined for audi­ences who may nev­er have seen the orig­i­nals.)

Per­haps the least inter­est­ing of Alcott’s riffs on the Radio­head cat­a­log, “Jig­saw Falling into Place,” goes right for the obvi­ous, though its idyl­lic, Bob Ross-like scene strikes a dis­so­nant chord in illus­trat­ing a song that ref­er­ences closed cir­cuit cam­eras and sawn-off shot­guns. Speak­ing of obvi­ous, maybe it seemed too on the nose to turn “Creep” into creepy pulp erot­i­ca. Still, I won­der how Alcott resist­ed. View and pur­chase in hand­made print form all of Alcott’s songs-as-book cov­ers, etc. at Etsy.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Songs by David Bowie, Elvis Costel­lo, Talk­ing Heads & More Re-Imag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers

Clas­sic Songs by Bob Dylan Re-Imag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers: “Like a Rolling Stone,” “A Hard Rain’s A‑Gonna Fall” & More

7 Rock Album Cov­ers Designed by Icon­ic Artists: Warhol, Rauschen­berg, Dalí, Richter, Map­plethor­pe & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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