radiohead official wedsite
follow me around, great radiohead fansite
This picture/commentary is new... I felt the need to adress his lame comments in Osaka on September 30, I belive. And, also, I wanted to put up a smaller picture.
The most important thing you need to know about radiohead is that the singer's name is pronounced "Tom".
These two are the most important of Radiohead’s albums. The other three, Pablo Honey, the Bends, and OK Computer pale in comparison. Not everybody thinks that, but I sure do.
Kid A is like a mini-symphony in several movements, not like a group of songs. Amnesiac is like a group of songs. I really prefer Kid A, but Amnesiac has its moments too. The B-Sides of Pyramid Song and Knives Out are excellent, as well. Both albums come from the same long recording session time or whatever and are produced by Nigel Goodrich. Here I will attempt to provide some kind of comprehensive list of the Kid A/Amnesaic songs here and provide some useless commentary.
Part One: Kid A 1. Everything in its Right Place: A great opening song, featuring lyrics that Thom Yorke says are about the bad feelings he had during the OK Computer fiasco (Yesterday I woke up sucking on lemons), and how the band felt about their new direction (Everything in its right place). Live, this song often becomes a lot bouncier and longer, and features Jonny Greenwood splicing and replaying the lyrics with the computer to sort of a psudo-turnatable effect, but cooler than that makes it sound.
2. Kid A: The title track of the album is possibly the least commercially exploitable, ironically enough. Or, on second thought, that may not be ironic at all. The album version features a sort of chiming sound like a children’s music box, and severely distorted vocals from Thom and his computer. This could be seen as a kind of musical manifesto for the new Radiohead. It may be my favorite track, but like I said, “favorite songs” are kind of obsolete with this album, as it’s more like one big song in many ways. Early versions of this song live are very beautiful, featuring a harmonica part, presumably performed by Mr. Jonny Greenwood. The lyrics are obtainable of fansites, and I think that may be the only way to make out what he’s saying. The lyrics are pretty dark, and “Kid A” refers to human cloning. There are several references to “kids” or “children” thought the Kid A/Amnesiac songs. “Rats and children follow me out of town… come on kids…” is sort of a Pied Piper type reference… there’s lots to see here, and it’s best left to the individual, so that’s it for now.
3. The National Anthem: This track is supposed to have been inspired, musically at least, by Charlie Mingus. It’s one of the two songs that employ a jazz horn section. Early versions of Radiohead, like when they were called “On a Friday” featured their friends on horns so it’s not like, entirely new. It’s kind of a simple song in some ways, but very fun and powerful too. Plus the simplicity allows for some nice improvisation at the end. The lyrics can be looked at a couple ways, I see a sort of isolation feeling, no matter how many people are around, others see a comment on globalization. Live, this song losses something in my opinion, because either they don’t have the horn section or they do and it has to be cut short like on SNL. I like the album version a lot though. This song is “accessible”.
4. How to Disappear Completely: This song seems pretty long, and like, not that much fun, but it is really quite nice. You can see an early version being performed by Thom on the documentary “Meeting People is Easy”. I think this is another song that is at least in part about Thom’s unhappiness during the OK Computer tours. “Strooo-oooo-be liiiiiiights…. And blo---wn speeeeakers… fire-wooooo-oorks…” there were fireworks at some of the big time arena shows they did, and Thom wanted to get away from that kind of stuff. “I’m not here… this isn’t happening”. Musically, the album version benefits from great production and edgy-sounding strings.
5. Treefingers: This one is by Ed O’Brian, the guitarist, I believe. It is actually a guitar, believe it or not. This song has no words, and is very… ambient, you might say. It has it’s place in the album, and it’s kind of like the music for turning the tape or the LP over. I like it, but sometimes I skip it.
6. Optimistic: Nice and catchy, “accessible”, either positive of negative depending on how you look at it. The lyrics, to me, have a kind of political slant. This new incarnation of Radiohead is not without the typically sketchy pop-star vaguely anti-establishment political views, and that’s one thing I could do without. Still, they have the restraint to keep it out of the songs, in as much as you can take the lyrics as political or not. For instance, “dinosaurs ruling the earth” in this song… the press has labeled this song (and/or some other song) as an attack on British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Although there is a sort of scary drawing of Blair in the secret booklet in the cd package, I think the search for political meanings behind Radiohead’s songs is unimportant, and distracting to the overall beauty of the work. Anyway, the the way the bassline and the melody kind of go uuuuuuuu-uuuup and doo-owwwn together in the “you can try the best you can, you can try the best you ca-an” part is actually the big hook of the whole album. For me it was at least. That part sink’s its claws in and then the rest of the album just falls into place. Oh, yes.
7. In Limbo: Flows seamlessly from the previous track and yet is totally different. This is a little laid back for some, the singing is kind of sleepy… the music is kind of sleepy. Well, a lot of the album is sort of edge-of-consciousness stuff, so deal with it, man. I think I heard this on like a car commercial or something before I heard it on the album. How crass that would be if it is actually true.
8. Idioteque: Weeeeee! Once again, very different types of tracks flow together perfectly. From In Limbo’s dozing waviness to Idioteque’s jumpy, ecstatic pop. The drums sound real techno-y and the only other real discernable music here is the four-chord keyboard riff that forms the song. Played live, this is an excuse for Thom to do his little wobbly crazy dance like mad. Lyrically, this is one of my favorites. “Women and children first and children first and children… I laugh until my head comes off, I swollow till I burst until I burst until I…” oh what the heck, here’s all the lyrics:
Some of these are kinda up in the air. Like lots of times I think it’s throw him in the fire, or at the end you can hear anything from “father’s of the children” to my favorite “Furnacing the children”… creepy. But, “the first of the children” fits in with the whole cloning thing. Anyway, it’s interesting to note that Colin Greenwood, the bass player, plays the keyboard part. You could say this is the most “dance” sounding song, but whatever, it’s a great song.
9: Morning Bell: This song has two different “interpretations”; this one and the one on Amnesiac. I basically think it’s great that they did that… it’s like they’re taking a jazz approach to pop… uh, as it were. Well, maybe that idea is a little shaky, but what isn’t shaky (at least not in a bad way) is this song. On the surface it seems to be about a divorce. Sort of an extended joke with the “punch line” of “Cut the kids in half”…ha ha. The only line in the body of the song proper that doesn’t seem to fit this little divorce scheme is “Sleepy jack, the fire drill… roundandroundandroundandroundandrou-ond… and round”… a great little line, and it sort of invites you to think of the song as something other than a “divorce song” (like “broken home”… shudder….vomit…). Also, in the Kid A version there’s lots of muttering/chanting as the song starts to round to close. On the album, it’s basically impossible to make out except for the refrain of “walking, walking…”, but it seems to have something to do with “wanted to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen…everyone wants to be your friend, nobody wants to be your slave (?)…” and so on. Very perplexing. Radiohead seems to use this technique of unintelligible vocals in many of the new songs. For instance the “alternate harmonies” in the “take the money and run” parts of Idioteque, where Thom is harmonizing with himself, but singing different, unrecognizable words. I think it might be supposed to make you think of the actual lyrics as secondary (yeah, well, too bad). Or, to make it seem like sort of a pop song in a dream… sort of the impression of a song, but never being able to make that jump into reality. Whatever.
10. Motion Picture Soundtrack… great song, I’ll write about it later. I’m tired!
You'll need some kinda flash-player or quick-time or something for this, so get it!