Radiohead - The Best of

2009-09-08 09:31
The problem is that your average Radiohead fan treats OK Computer like the Koran and carves butter sculptures of Thom Yorke in their spare time. Confronted with this unyielding reverence, the rest of the world is inclined to think: “Well, it doesn’t have that effect on me, so I’m obviously not getting it.” And so Radiohead is pushed to the dusty corners of our music libraries as we give Kylie Minogue another awkward cameo on our playlists.

But now one of the least conventional bands to rule the rock world has issued their first ever career retrospective, a double-CD simply titled The Best Of. Forget preserving their legacy, this is a second chance for everyone who missed the Radiohead boat in the 90s to hop aboard. The question now is… will we get seasick?
There’s Radiohead, and then there’s the idea of Radiohead: a band that builds wailing walls of mournful noise that bulge and shrink to near-suicidal lyrics. Okay, that’s a little true now and then, but don’t be diverted from some genuinely beautiful recordings. “High And Dry” is as simple and hummable as any Beatles song, and just as beautiful. When they want to, Jonny Greenwood & Co. can write songs the way God made Heidi Klum: still gorgeous in a plain sweater and jeans.

All the same, Thom Yorke does indulge his little sad place. The opressive negativity of “Let Down” will be too much for some, as not everyone likes the reminder of being “Let down and hanging around / Crushed like a bug in the ground". All that Radiohead’s more challenging songs require, though, is a bit of patience, like getting into a nice warm bath. A song like “Fake plastic trees” can softly suck you into the recesses of the most tragic waking dream, if only you would let it.

As great as alternative rock anthems “Creep” and “Paranoid Android” may be, the dope you can’t buy anywhere else is Radiohead’s experimental songs, best listened to with closed eyes. On “How To Disappear Completely” and “Idioteque”, Thom Yorke’s voice stops emitting from speakers and starts just being in your head, pushing you further out to sea in the Radiohead boat. Try not to barf, you might like it.

Returning to that great congregation of music lovers, you might find a few fresh hands raised in the air after listening to The Best of. And if you’re one of them, be careful, you might look at butter in a whole new way.

Imagine all the music lovers in the world were congregated in a giant hall with comfy seats. Right, everyone who’s not really into Radiohead, stick up your hands. Hmm, thought so. There’s a lot more of us than you might think.

What to read next: Kalahari

Neil 2008/06/25 6:10 AM
Tips for beginners All you need is some patience and an open mind, try not to "barf" in the beginning and you'll be fine. Radiohead is best served in solace and aggrevation, in sadness and laughter and especially when you're in the recurring long dark tea time of your soul - you'll mend your soul with the music and understand something that can't really be explained; but don't take the music too seriously, let it do what it may with ease! Now where's that butter...
Nikki 2008/06/25 8:54 AM
Best of the best... Since Creep & the odly titled "More Tea Vicar?" album of the 90's, Radiohead has undoubtedly been one the best rock bands of our time. Sometimes misunderstood, sometimes woefully underrated but no doubt a band that touches the soul if only you would listen & patiently let them grow on you. The Bends album is in my opinion the best album ever produced/recorded. A must have for any discerning rock/alternative fan.
Elton 2008/06/25 1:25 PM
2 cents worth The best of is currently whats in my ipod, cd player and computer and that about sums it up i have forged a relationship with this smartly put together compilation that will change the way you look at your day. Having said that Enjoy !!! I am.
galamatias 2008/07/12 4:05 PM
no surprises Well done EMI - that's how to get back at them for making the cleverest marketing move of last year (any year?) with the whole In Rainbows scam. For those of us unable, or unwilling to see Thom Yorke's new suit, this set allows us to hear that Radiohead actually can make some interesting noises. Yes, The Bends is a masterpiece. No, OK Computer is not the Holy Grail. It is a dense and cold as a hard-drive. But this way we get to listen to the tracks worth listening to, without having to be subjected to all that "experimental" and cutting edge waffle. Still, is there a more annoying and plodding dirge than Pyramid Song in the history of rock? I think not - and I've heard ALL of The Smiths' output! So thanks EMI. Clever move on your part and it doesn't even have any of the fake plastic smiles of In Rainbows. BONUS!
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