Also the name of Radiohead's live album, released November 13 2001. It features 7 songs off of Amnesiac
and Kid A
, as well the unreleased True Love Waits
. I managed to pick up a copy one day before the official release
, and here are my impressions:
I've generally liked Amnesiac and Kid A, my only bone being that many of these new songs are so short. In this release we get to hear many of the songs as they were meant to be heard -- live and spontaneous and for that reason longer than the studio cuts.
Track 1:The National Anthem: Radiohead has opened many shows with this one, playing a slightly different version than is heard on Kid A: The driving guitar (or bass?) riff is heavily distorted, the floating, ethereal melody is carried by what sounds like a more traditional synthesizer than in the Kid A version, and they use different samples at the open and the close of the song. This version is more free-wheeling and more raucous -- justifiably so, considering the heavy mixing and production required for the album release. Update: Ba tells me that it is indeed a bass guitar carrying the main riff and that the "traditional synthesizer" is actually Ed O'Brien playing guitar with some heavy effects added.
Track 2:I Might Be Wrong: Slightly more up-tempo than the Amnesiac version and, like The National Anthem, slightly rougher around the edges. This time we hear a high, distorted drone enter the song at about three minutes in; it seems to complete the sound in my mind -- to fill in something that is missing in the album version.
Track 3:Morning Bell: I never liked Morning Bell, on either album. This version is closer to the Kid A release, and despite my dislike of the song in general I appreciate this recording. Yorke's voice is more open, the beat is a bit more intense, and the addition of a guitar is welcome.
Track 4:Like Spinning Plates: Ok, first go listen to the Amnesiac version. Go -- right now, do it. This cut is an utterly amazing companion to the original version. If you listen carefully, you'll notice that they are almost virtually identical save for the substitution of one instrument, but the effect is astounding. Probably the best track on the album.
Track 5:Idioteque: In the case of this track, I think the album version works better than the live track. Both Amnesiac and Kid A are heavily mixed albums, and while most of the songs work very very well on stage it seems that this one is missing something without the studio sound. However, the stage does allow for a spontaneous drum-and-sample solo -- something we don't often hear on studio albums.
Track 6:Everything In Is Right Place: This song has an introduction that we don't hear in the original Kid A release: "Here comes the flood . . ." Yorke tells us. The live cut is almost identical to the studio version for the first three minutes of the song; however, the stuttering samples of Thom's voice come in at the end rather than the beginning and continue for the next four minutes along with a host of ambient and vocal samples, and an ambient build that's reminiscent of A Day in the Life. This track probably best illustrates how much their new material is better suited for a live performance than for studio production. Only on stage can the songs be developed into a seven or ten minute performance, and it seems to me that this version of Everything is what Radiohead had in mind when they wrote it.
Track 7:Dollars and Cents: Almost identical to the studio version featured on Amnesiac. The live guitar is richer than in the studio cut, and Yorke seems to sing with a little more anger in his voice. This song is slightly longer than the studio version, but I felt disappointed that it wasn't much longer. I feel as if the chords repeated at the end of the song could have been extended and spun into a techno-trance exit -- in the same was as Everything In Its Right Place.
Track 8:True Love Waits: Not since High and Dry has Radiohead released something that so much resembled a sad love song. It might be a long time before they ever do again. I'll treat this song more thoroughly in its own writeup when I get a chance -- as it deserves the attention. For now though, suffice it to say that even though it is a very honest love song, it has a certain maturity to it -- free of cynicism -- that keeps it from being maudlin or tired. Its a welcome thing to hear after four years of noise and bitterness, and it is still in every way a Radiohead song.