MUSIC REVIEWS: Radiohead-KID A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief [The Three-disc Collector’s Edition sets]
Radiohead’s 2000, 2001 and 2003 releases: Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief are enjoying new special collectors edition releases. Along with the original albums, these packed new editions include a second CD of rare and live recordings of tunes from their respective albums, as well as a third DVD and other goodies like postcards and booklets. You really get your money’s worth with these new Radiohead re-releases.
“Everything in its Right Place” starts off ‘the Kid’ with its soft Thom Yorke voice, lilting weird keys. There’s the padding and weird distorted vocals, backing chimes of the title track, then some thankfully kicking moments with “The National Anthem,” “Optimistic” and ” Idioteque.” Thom’s plaintive cry works great on “How To Disappear Completely,” a more traditional song, placed well in this ‘concept album,’ fourth tune in. “Treefingers” is more soundscape, but “In Limbo” is the best example of what Kid A really is about, with a good beat, guitar, keys and low odd vocal the noises add to the track more then distracting from it. The last tune on Kid A “Motion Picture Soundtrack” really brings all this odd stuff together for me, it’s a low pipe-organ lead mournful thing, and really nobody but Yorke can pull off this kind of a vocal, mixed as low in the mix as it is, what he is saying becomes less important then the sound he makes. This is truly a special track and for me my favorite on Kid A.
The special stuff here includes the second CD of four tracks off the BBC radio session from Kid A, live stuff from two different performances from 2000, Canal&Studio stuff among them and the third disc, a DVD of the band performing “The National Anthem,” “Morning Bell,” and “Idioteque” from the “Later…with Jools Holland” show from 2001.
Amnesiac is a different animal. Sure there is the amazing 11-song CD (which I will touch on in a sec) but the ‘EP’s on the second disc are most interesting. From Pyramid Song there is the tribal “The Amazing Sounds Of Orgy,” the loud “Trans-Atlantic Drawl,” as swampy a tune as Radiohead ever played, and from the four song Knives Out section, “Worrywort” has got nice drippy keys with Thom doing his aspirated nearly unintelligible mumbling, “Fog” is simply like its name implies; rolling and roiling sounds with a pretty nifty rumbling muted metallic percussion backing then a full length version (whatever that means) of the last tune on Amnesiac “Life In A Glasshouse”…with an unusual use of trumpet here that brings a nice 1940’s torch-song sensibility to the proceedings. Again we get Canal&Studio live stuff then that third disc DVD, this one with a bunch of stuff: 4 promo videos, 2 “Top Of The Pops” appearances and again the band playing on the Jules Holland show.
The actual Amnesiac? I like the Johnny Greenwood-led, kicking opener “Packet Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box,” Thom Yorke challenging with “You And Whose Army?,” the noise and riffing of “I Might Be Wrong” and the groove of “Dollars and Cents.” When Radiohead get it right with just the perfect amount of atmosphere and groove-and Yorke wailing over the top of the whole mess (as I feel they do in these two tunes) there might not be a better band around today.
The band’s sixth album was, as they explained it at the time, their attempt to get back to a “swaggering” sound. Though nearly and hour in length, the shorter tunes here said to have been influenced by Yorke’s love of The Beatles and the economy-if you will-serves the band well.
“Sit Down, Stand Up (Snakes and Ladders)” hits that familiar “Creep” territory with a spiky kind of chunking on-the-edge scariness of Yorke’s voice…as with the best of Radiohead, you never know where this is gonna go, but you stay with it. I love that piano and rising atmospherics on “Sail To The Moon (Brush the Cobwebs out of the Sky),” “Go To Sleep” has a solid acoustic guitar rhythm and “Where I End and You Begin” (The Sky is Falling in)” is nice and noisy, again doing what the band does best; a good almost tribal beat, Yorke over the top, and all that weirdness in the middle. For prefect fun, the end of Hail works for me most: “A Punchup at a Wedding (No no no no no no no no.)” might be my favorite here (at least the title is) featuring some tight bass playing from Colin Greenwood, “Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner.)” sounds like King Crimson and the deceptively simple last track “A Wolf at the Door (It Girl. Rag Doll.)”, with it’s almost optimistic-dare I say it-chorus melody, makes this last track sound more like a nursery rhyme more then anything else.
Of course as in all three rereleases you get extras here. Disc two features 13 songs under all different titled groupings, and live stuff (with a “Sail To The Moon” from the “Jo Whiley Show” in 03) and again the 3rd disc DVD.