Posts Tagged ‘Thom Yorke’

Radiohead - In Rainbows

When a band you once feared dead returns out of nowhere with one of their greatest albums, it feels a little like a resurrection. So Radiohead fans around the globe enjoyed a collective rush of euphoria in the early morning hours of October. 10th, 2007, when the band emailed out downloads of their first album in more than four years.

Radiohead worked on In Rainbows for more than two years, beginning in early 2005. In mid-2006, after their initial recording sessions with new producer Spike Stent proved fruitless, the band toured Europe and North America performing In Rainbows material before re-enlisting their longtime producer Nigel Godrich. The album is more personal than previous Radiohead albums, with singer Thom Yorke describing most of the songs as his versions of “seduction songs”. Radiohead incorporated a variety of musical styles and instruments, using electronic instruments, string arrangements, piano, and the ondes Martenot.

As In Rainbows hit the inboxes of everyone who’d pre-ordered it — for a price of the buyer’s choosing, in a somewhat revolutionary show of goodwill on Radiohead’s part .

In Rainbows  the seventh studio album  their first release after their recording contract with EMI ended with their previous album Hail to the Thief (2003). It was a surprise in several senses, and many of them had nothing to do with the sounds contained therein. After a brief hiatus, some public struggles to find their way forward in the studio, and a blossoming of side projects that suggested the band could be finished, the biggest surprise at that time was that a new Radiohead album existed at all. The band also released In Rainbows without a label, announced it just 10 days before its release, and didn’t share any songs ahead of time a unusual and minimal rollout by today’s standards and practically unheard of in that time . Even more radical was the pay-what-you-want scheme, which set off all kinds of debates about the viability of such a plan for smaller artists and the value of recorded music going forward.

In conjunction with its release and the absence of a record-label middleman, the payment-optional approach was Radiohead’s way of both accepting and subverting the reality of album leaks, which had compromised the rollout of their previous LP. Thom Yorke and friends weren’t about to have college radio stations blasting lo-fi MP3s of their new album weeks before the release date again. By tightly controlling everything except the price point, the band seemed to be telling listeners, “OK, you can have the music for free if you wish, but you’ll have it on our terms.” Not that the band ever really risked losing money on this gambit. Hardcore fans like myself shelled out big bucks for deluxe vinyl with an entire second CD of music, a package that ensured Radiohead would still be richly rewarded for their efforts. And when the experiment ran its course and TBD Records gave In Rainbows a conventional physical release the following year, it still sold enough copies to debut at #1 in the US and UK, rendering the project a win for Radiohead on all commercial fronts.

The strategy was fascinating and worthy of examination, but it unfortunately came to overshadow the album’s creative achievements. For students of the music business and most casual observers, the mode of release is the album’s legacy. In Rainbows was another batch of classics and consider how they fit within the arc of the band’s catalogue. Not including “Last Flowers”, which Yorke recorded in the Eraser sessions, the In Rainbows sessions produced 16 songs. After the 56-minute, 14-track Hail to the Thief, Radiohead wanted their seventh album to be concise;[ they settled on ten songs, saving a further six tracks (not counting short instrumentals) for the limited edition “discbox” release. Fans could order a limited “discbox” edition from inrainbows.com, containing the album on CD and two 12″ heavyweight 45 rpm vinyl records with artwork and lyric booklets, plus an enhanced CD with eight additional tracks, digital photos and artwork, packaged in a hardcover book and slipcase. The “discbox” edition was shipped on 3rd December 2007. In June 2009, Radiohead made the second In Rainbows disc available for download on their website for £6

There are days when In Rainbows sounds like the best Radiohead album. It’s definitely in contention with 1995’s The Bends as the band’s most approachable, compulsively listenable release — the one you can just put on and enjoy without turning it into a full-blown immersive experience, the one that will meet you wherever you’re at and be beautiful in your presence. It absolutely holds together as a coherent statement, 10 songs inspired by related themes and woven from a shared sonic fabric. Yet you never get the sense you’re beholding some epic musical journey á la OK Computer or Kid A, the other albums I’m most likely to name as Radiohead’s crowning achievements. .

That In Rainbows sounded this way was nearly as unexpected as its method of release. Here was their poppiest, most guitar-based collection of songs in more than a decade, a pronounced swerve away from the chilly electronics and crushing paranoia that had been a hallmark of their sound since OK Computer and swallowed it up completely on Kid A and Amnesiac. In hindsight, the group had already edged back toward guitars on 2003 career overture Hail To The Thief, an album that begins with the hard-rocking “2+2=5″ and includes the soaring career highlight “There There” among other six-string excursions. But those were part of a wide-ranging patchwork, whereas this album largely nudged electronics into the background in favor of an upbeat, organic sound, frequently accented by Jonny Greenwood’s orchestral arrangements but firmly grounded in the sound of a guitar-driven rock combo.

In Rainbows presented Radiohead with an unprecedented warmth as it found their singer exploring a more mature version of the sad sack from “Creep.” There are bittersweet tracks, like the fatalistic torch song “Nude” and the brisk yet self-loathing schoolyard chant “15 Step” and the clattering power ballad “Reckoner,” a treatise on facing down death. And there are angry tracks, like the powerhouse rock rave-up “Bodysnatchers” and the acoustic-orchestral pocket suite “Faust Arp.” No song ever fully gives into its darker impulses, though. The feeling when the band queues up “15 Step” or rips into “Bodysnatchers” in concert is pure visceral elation, and the lingering memory of “Nude” and “Faust Arp” and especially “Reckoner” is not ache so much as aching beauty.

And then there are the love songs. Most of the favorite tracks on In Rainbows are the ones on which Yorke risks an emotional wipeout by giving himself over to entirely to breathless affection, songs that revel in real or imagined romantic bliss even as they acknowledge life’s bitter realities. “Weird Fishes (Arpeggi)” gorgeously captures the feeling of being possessed by attraction only to be left unsatisfied yet again, its plaintive guitar needlework building to a transcendent climax then careening off a cliff and into the depths. The darkly swooning “All I Need” traces similar paths; as Yorke professes his unrequited desire for a woman who seems to be missing him in plain sight, the song’s remarkably straightforward structure culminates in an overwhelming wave of melancholy.

“House Of Cards,” Radiohead’s idea of a sexy slow jam, is probably the tenderest song in Yorke’s catalog. “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” details the flickering passion of a barroom flirtation against a locomotive backbeat that very much recalls a bar band. And as In Rainbows draws to a close, the deconstructed piano ballad “Videotape” returns to the themes of fleeting ecstasy and creeping death. The lyrics are basically Yorke putting a morbid twist on Lou Reed, realizing this “perfect day” with a friend or lover will be part of the highlights montage when his life flashes before his eyes.

Many of us have had a similar epiphany moment while listening to In Rainbows. One last surprise to consider is how well this album holds up 10 years later. It felt like a private gift at first, overflowing with delights but too minor in scale and conservative in style to qualify as the latest Radiohead masterpiece. To return to it more than any other Radiohead album, and its tracklist is as stunning front to back as any of the group’s other elite LPs. A decade down the line, with two more albums in the rearview, it’s becoming increasingly clear that In Rainbows deserves to be in the conversation when discussing Radiohead’s finest recorded work.

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RADIOHEAD – ” Lift “

Posted: September 10, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

The release of Radiohead‘s 20th anniversary expanded reissue OK Computer: OKNOTOK, the band shared videos for the two of three previously unreleased songs, “I Promise” and “Man of War.” Now, the third song, “Lift,” .

The three songs were not entirely new to fans, but had only been performed live and never released officially. The album also includes remasters of the original OK Computer record, as well as eight B-sides.

It’s been a long run-up to the release, with Radiohead first hinting that something was coming in April earlier this year, when mysterious posters began popping up in cities around the world. The move got fans speculating on Reddit about what the posters might signal, with many quickly and correctly foreseeing a 20th anniversary release for OK Computer. 

Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood helped stoke the mystery by posting on social media that an upcoming project is “soon to be real,” followed by photos of scaffolding.

At the beginning of May, the band then posted a video of a child singing what seemed like alternate lyrics to “Climbing Up the Walls” with some retro graphics. Midway through, the words “Program: radiohead” appear at the top and, shortly thereafter, “0 OK, 0:1″ turn up at the bottom. It was revealed that the reissue is dedicated to the memory of frontman Thom Yorke’s late ex-partner, Dr. Rachel Owen.

Radiohead at Glastonbury

Radiohead headlined the Pyramid Stage of Glastonbury 2017 on Friday night with an astonishingly mesmerising – if not a little unruly – set in what resulted in an utterly compelling two hours and 25 minutes.

The performance came on the 20th anniversary of Radiohead’s first headline set at Glastonbury, a reminder of the reissue of the iconic album ‘OK Computer’ and a statement of intent of the band’s utter dominance.

Absorbing, challenging and achingly beautiful – Radiohead delivered a typically Radiohead sort of set for Glastonbury’s opening night. The Oxford quintet emerged, bathed in white light, to the haunting piano refrain of Daydreaming, from last year’s A Moon Shaped Pool album.

Two hours and 25 songs later, they closed with Karma Police, singing: “For a minute there, I lost myself.”

Such is their confidence, Radiohead’s set list was nothing short of experimental, eclectic and downright enthralling. Tracks such as ‘No Surprises’ tempted Thom Yorke into a brief political outburst when he ominously pleasured the crowd with “see you later, Theresa” as the song, with lyrics such as “bring down the government, they don’t speak for us,” came to a close.

Opening with ‘Daydreaming’ from 2016 record A Moon Shaped Pool, the band indulged fans with favourites such as ‘Airbag’ and the aptly titled ‘Pyramid Song’ before Yorke couldn’t resist busting out his new dance moves during a revised version of ‘Idioteque’.

Encore one saw the likes of ‘No Surprises’, ‘Nude’, Paranoid Android and Fake Plastic Trees before the second and final encore welcomed the three big hitters: Lotus Flower, ‘Creep’ and ‘Karma Police’ the last of which left the crowd and Yorke singing: “For a minute there, I lost myself.”

Thanks to faroutmagazine

Radiohead are in full on nostalgia mode around the 20th anniversary of their career-defining “OK Computer”, album release due the end of this month ,  they’ve just dished out a live version of an outtake that has gone largely under-appreciated in the wake of the album’s release.

“Normally, I don’t think we’re the sort of people to look back, but it was interesting when we did…” Thom told the crowd, adding “what a bunch of nutters we were, and probably still are.

“One of the crazy things we did was not release this song, because we didn’t think it was good enough,” he finishes, before easing gently into a track that not many Radiohead fans has heard live for over two decades.

Listening to the track side by side, Thom’s powerful yet delicate voice sounds as if it could have been plucked from 20 years ago, too – or perhaps even a little richer with age. Either way, this is how an anniversary celebration is supposed to be done.

“I Promise” is one of 3 previously unreleased tracks from the album OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 – 2017 – 20th Anniversary album release.

Photo credit: Danny Clinch

When Radiohead releases OK Computer: OKNOTOK, an expanded edition of their groundbreaking 1997 album O.K Computer in June, fans will finally hear three tracks that have long say in the band’s vaults and brains.

Though previously unreleased, the three tracks, “Lift,” “I Promise” and  “Man Of War” won’t be completely unfamiliar to fans. “Lift” has had a regular spot in 1996 set lists , when it became a fan favorite, and was resurrected on tour in 2002. Radiohead started tinkering with it again in 2014, while they began work on 2016’s “A Moon Shaped Pool” .

According to fan site Green Plastic frontman Thom Yorke said he wasn’t happy with their live performances of “Lift” in the ‘90s, and even recorded a few versions during their sessions for OK Computer but never released it. Yorke wanted to air it out before the band began dissecting it. They toyed with putting versions it on Kid A in 2000 and “Amnesiac” in 2001, but it never came to fruition.

“We haven’t lost the song. We played it too much in a certain way that didn’t work in my opinion,” he said. “It didn’t feel right. So we need to approach it in a different way but at the time of OK Computer it was impossible to get into rearranging it because everyone had fixed ideas on what to play and we’d all just got into a habit we couldn’t break, like staring too long at strangers, know what I mean?”

Although guitarist Ed O’Brien called the song “a bogs—e B-side and we were very happy to leave it off the album,”  Radiohead unveiled a slower, more lyrically polished version of “Lift” in Lisbon, Portugal, and at a few other shows in 2002. The update also notably removes mention of Thom, the person being saved from a stuck elevator.

As recently as 2015, while confirming that the band had been working on the tune again, guitarist Jonny Greenwood told the Dutch website 3voor12 that such resurrections are common practice for Radiohead albums.

“What people don’t know is that there’s a very old song on each album, like ‘Nude’ on In Rainbows. We never found the right arrangement for that, until then. ‘Lift’ is just like that. When the idea is right, it stays right. It doesn’t really matter in which form.”

Like “Lift” and “Man Of War” both of which will also be included on the reissue of Radiohead’s  O.K Computer OKNOTOK  a reissue marking the 20th anniversary of O.K Computer, “I Promise,” which you can listen to above, was a regular on the set lists of the ’90s.

In particular, the song was played on tour in 1996, but never to return to performances or see an official release, though it has long been circulated by fans on bootlegs. Despite a large swath of unreleased Radiohead songs, all three were among those most widely topping fan’s wish lists.

“I Promise,” however, is more personal than the other two songs that are getting their first official airing, as well as the bulk of 1997’s OK Computer. Where the rest of the coming two-disc collection revolves around more abstract ideas like technology, globalization and aliens, “I Promise” seems like it might follow a couple’s argument, with the narrator’s pledge to do better.

Several fan favorites will be among the three previously unreleased tracks that will grace Radiohead’s 20th anniversary reissue O.K Computer OKNOTOK iincluding “Man of War,” .

Marking the anniversary of their groundbreaking 1997 album OK Computer, the two-disc set will also include “I Promise” and “Lift.” All three tracks, though never officially released, were setlist mainstays in the ’90s, and have floated around on bootlegs for years. The song was written around the time the band released their second album, “The Bends” , in 1995. It has alternately been called “Big Boots” or “Man o’ War.”

According to the fan site, Green Plastic, the band tried to record it several times, including for The Avengers soundtrack, but were never satisfied with the results. They were seen working on it in their 1998 documentary, Meeting People Is Easy, but it had been left in the vaults because, as frontman Thom Yorke told MTV’s 120 Minutes, they “couldn’t find a proper way into it.”

“We ditched it because we were so messed up and we went in, tried to do the track, but we just couldn’t do it. It was actually a really difficult period of time,” Yorke said. “We had a five-week break and all the s— was coming to the surface. It was all a bit weird – I mean we went in and tried to do this old track that we had and it just wasn’t happening at all. It was a real low point after it.”

After a week of fans speculating on what would an anniversary edition might include, many of them wonder when they’ll hear the updated versions of these previously unreleased tracks, like “I Promise,” live. Radiohead will begin the European leg of its 2017 tour on June 7th.

XL Recordings

You can pre-order OK Computer: OKNOTOK, which will be released on June 23rd, on Radiohead’s website.

 

Image result for radiohead 2016

There was a lot of trepidation with regards a new Radiohead album. 2011’s The King of Limbs was a great album but not up to the lofty heights of their previous oeuvre. A Moon Shaped Pool had such build-up and hype that it absolutely had to deliver the good. When lead single “Burn the Witch” arrived; all those anxieties and tensions dissipated. Nervy, politicised and string-laden: a golden Radiohead track that mixes the orchestral touches of Kid A and the dark undertones of Hail to the Thief. Complete with a Trumpington-inspired video and one of Thom Yorke’s finest vocals in years – the Oxford legends back to their very best.

Who knows what a “low-flying panic attack” actually is (a drone? an airborne virus?), and who cares if that stabbing string arrangement lends this single more jittery paranoia than its lyrics. Burrowing deep into the language of English folk music, Radiohead rewrite “Karma Police” for the new millennium, as if gobsmacked that this sentiment is still relevant twenty years later.

Radiohead Burn the Witch

To coincide with their nomination for the coveted Mercury Prize, Radiohead have shared an intimate live rendition of A Moon Shaped Pool album cut “Present Tense.” It finds band members Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood fingerpicking guitar their way through the latin-flavored lament with help from a Roland CR-78 drum machine in a lowly lit performance directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who previously worked with Radiohead on the video for “Daydreaming.”

The new Radiohead album has been drip-fed. The first two tracks released out of the blue and in sequence, accompanying oddly filmic (and very different) videos. First the Wicker Man of Trumpton and then Paul Thomas Anderson’s abstracted tracking shot of Thom Yorke just looking for a place to lie down and moan backwards.

‘Burn the Witch’ thudded like an eerie herald. It felt like a summoning, a ritual. Suddenly something new was coming, and it sounded very unlike Radiohead. Sure, Thom wasn’t exactly spitting rhymes about diamonds and sunshine all of a sudden, but there was an urgent hopefulness to the strings that slammed in from nowhere, and kept finding ways to build up.

I couldn’t work out how to piece that together with ‘Daydreaming’, which sounds like the band taking another stab at a Bond theme, after ‘Spectre”s surprising success. We were actually trying to work out whether ‘Daydreaming”s video was a horrifying metaphor for alzheimer’s, or just Thom Yorke’s interpretation of an actual Bond film: ‘I’ll just walk through a lot of rooms and smirk a little, right? That’s basically the essence of Bond.’

Because it’s a perfect little Sunday evening laze of a record, really. For all the doom-laden proclamations and the unsettling backmasking, it’s Radiohead letting you take a break.

The pounding rhythm, ominous synth and eventual jerky vocal parts serve up a nervous platter of gorgeous.

“Burn the Witch’ wraps an anxious violin around a throbbing stylophone bassline to brutal effect. As it thickens, it opens up, every upwards, always pulling.

‘Daydreaming’ starts with rattled chimes and ends with a backmasked vocal that sounds like an old robot dog, that can no longer breathe, trying to breathe. The simple piano motif will stay with you forever.

When ‘Decks Dark”s zitherish warbling gives way to its piano groove, it takes a turn into darkness. The piano and bass interplay becomes a thrill, albeit a quiet, laid back one.

‘Desert Island Disk’ is probably one of the simplest Radiohead tracks in the back catalogue. That in itself is striking.

‘Ful Stop’ is not quite motorik, but uses a similar beat to pull you forward. It builds a basic layer of synth wash, and only pulls out the full weight of its instrumentation halfway through. It’s another opening out, almost a bursting. The lyrics become another set of layers, finally keeping pace with the rest of the track. It’s a delicate knot of sound, that revels in its own unfurling in the final seconds.

‘Glass Eyes’ is the one that’d make you cry if it went on a little longer. Through boredom or emotions, depending on your taste.

‘Identikit’ is all jerky drum line and patient waiting, with oddly gospel vocal motifs eventually lifting it out of its own stark mire.

‘The Numbers’ is just a journey. It meanders. It admires the view. It is almost haunted by its own tiny occasional piano motif, that only falls apart in the final moments, surrounded by quietly cut-up laughter.

‘Present Tense’ shuffles around itself, and probably deserves another video of Thom dancing.

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief’ takes its spy-thriller riffing title seriously, when it pulls slowly from grim loneliness into breathtaking cinematic strings.

And ‘True Love Waits’ finds a way to drown itself, slowly building up its own echo and reverb. Letting itself get more lost, more lonely, more desperate.

The record is lovely, accessible, warm and soothing. It has few rough edges, and many intriguing moments.

‘The Numbers’ is the latest in the long tradition of tracks that rip off the strings from Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Ballade de Melody Nelson’, but it recontextualises them into such a sweeping breadth that it once again pulls it off.

The album doesn’t feel structured though. I couldn’t see how ‘Burn the Witch’ was supposed to fit with ‘Daydreaming’, and I still don’t. ‘Burn the Witch’ feels like it’s opening a very different record to the one it does. Its urgency is only really matched by ‘Ful Stop’.

For the rest, it feels almost like a beach record. ‘Present Tense’ in particular, with its Spanish guitar and thrumming maracas, feels like Thom and boys having an existential crisis on a tropical beach. The guitars are glistening blue waves, lapping at the toes of Thom’s anxiety. The shuffle dances around him, along with all the added layers as the track moves on.

Really, this is at the core of what I’ve always loved about Radiohead. Detractors will call them a miserable band and it’s fair. Thom sounds bleak and lonely throughout, and sells that tone efficiently, with the usual range of keening wails and cryptic lyrics. But actually, beneath that, has always been an undercurrent of joyfulness. ‘Let Down’ was always the cheeriest possible way to have a nervous breakdown.

And that’s where this album stands. It’s an uplifting break-up record. Torn hearts on sunny days.

Much fuss has already been made about the album closer. A track that’s been heard live since 1995, ‘True Love Waits’ got a sparse live recording around the Amnesiac period, and has apparently been the subject of speculation for a long time. The studio album finally lands, and it’s a lovely thing, piano-wrapped, mechanical sounds exposed, with the earth-shatteringly simple vocal at the core.

To be honest, I preferred the bare simplicity of the live version, just because it sounded like nothing more than Radiohead stripped down to a naked core. Just a sad voice and a guitar, somewow capturing a sort of desperate and unclear optimism, smothered by angst, but still always there.