My first post! Yeah! [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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01-02-2004, 07:03 AM
Hello all,

Dang I even have a reason to post, I just hope it hasn't been already discussed to death here.

Anyway, so far this morning I've been continuing an exercise I started yesterday, that being I've been listening to Radiohead's last 3 albums and trying to figure out WTF they thought they were accomplishing with these recordings. Now right off I'll state that I think "Hail to the thief" IS a better effort than were either "Kid A" or "Amnesiac".

I know I'm not the only one to wonder what happened to these guys after "Ok Computer", I think I know already but I believe it'd be interesting to see the sales figures for say "Amnesiac" vs say "The Bends". Not that sales represent anything truely meaningful but in this case it might. After releasing successful efforts in "The Bends" & "Ok Computer" one would be inclined to believe that "Kid A" & "Amnesiac" would sell even better due to the band having an existing fan base. All that said I doubt that is what has occured, again I've not seen any sales figures but I'd be appauled if my hunch isn't true.

I guess my real question is two fold, first why the drastic change in direction for the band? Were they bored? Were they concerned that their sound was becoming predictable? Do they honestly feel that the work expressed by "Kid A" & "Amnesiac" is an improvement over their previous work? Secondly, I wonder a bit if I'm not the culprit here, did they as they evolved simply move beyond my grasp?

I'll be brutally honest, I think "Kid A" & "Amnesiac" are terrible efforts, for me its basicly just a bunch of droning noise, I find them boring and depressing. In short I think I got ripped off! :(

Now "Hail to the thief" IMO is a superior effort to "KidA' / "Amnesiac", and I guess for me its roughly a tie for 3rd best in their lexicon with "Pablo Honey".

There then, I've layed out a sketch of my feelings on this subject, anyone else care to chime in, or perhaps even help me in my ignorance of the topic? :)



Finch Platte
01-02-2004, 07:24 AM
Not a fan of Radiohead, but I just wanted to say hi and welcome to the forum. I hope you deem it interesting enough to stick around.


01-02-2004, 07:41 AM
But I don't know which albums they were on. I have to admit that I was surprised at some of their work and enjoyed it very much. my 2c

01-02-2004, 08:14 AM
I'm a pretty casual Radiohead fan. I liked the Bends and OK Computer, although I was nowhere near as enamored of them as many seem to be. Personally, I really liked Kid A best. It's probably the record of theirs that I listen to most over time. I was also pretty fond of Amnesiac, and have been a bit let down with Hail to the Thief, although I figure it's a good effort.

I think you are probably absolutely right that their sales surely dropped for Kid A, and especially Amnesiac. Any time a band drastically changes their sound, they risk alienating their fans. And, if as in the case of Radiohead, they go in a much less commercially viable direction, a sales slump is pretty well a sure thing.

For me, I guess I just kinda like to listen to them change things up a bit. If I was a bigger fan in the first place, it would probably not have been so welcome. But, since I've been interested in electronic music, and was only a casual Radiohead fan, Kid A was a welcome change of pace to me for a band I liked but had no real attachment to and played into an area I found interesting.

When Amnesiac came out, it seemd to be a holding pattern. Still working with sound expirements but without bringing much more to the table and not really blending the experimentation into their more traditional work much. For those two, I think they seemed to be experimenting with different sounds, which they are now incorporating into their more accustomed style for Hail to the Thief.

Hard to say what they'll do next. They could go out on a limb again and try to find some more sounds to work with before regrouping and consolidating things, or they could take another stab at bringing everything together into a more traditional Radiohead album. Probably a lot of that depends on how satisfied they were with the blend they got on the last one. But, who knows?

I guess the one fun thing to me about this band, that got most interesting from Kid A on, is that they do seem to be really making an attempt to branch out and try new things, sometimes quite outside of their past accomplishments. Sure, that can sometimes blow up in their face, but to me it's a heck of a lot more interesting than just making OK Computer over and over for the rest of their careers. If I wanna hear OK Computer and/or the Bends, I can just go and listen to them.

01-02-2004, 10:04 AM
I guess the one fun thing to me about this band, that got most interesting from Kid A on, is that they do seem to be really making an attempt to branch out and try new things, sometimes quite outside of their past accomplishments. Sure, that can sometimes blow up in their face, but to me it's a heck of a lot more interesting than just making OK Computer over and over for the rest of their careers. If I wanna hear OK Computer and/or the Bends, I can just go and listen to them.

I agree.. KID A is weird, but I like weird. And really, it sounds like Radiohead to me. It's just a little twisted that's all. If they would have continuned in the same vein as OK COMPUTER, they might have topped it, they might not have. I think KID A, besides being an attempt to try new things, was also an attempt to avoid the inevitable comparisons to OK COMPUTER. It was so different, that people focused on that aspect, and not how it was better or worse than OK COMPUTER - you really just can't compare them. Even after all this time, I'll have to say that KID A hasn't sunk in completely, but I do enjoy several cuts off the album very much. I didn't get AMNESIAC, but I really enjoy HTTT. I think they need to go somewhere else for a while and now they have a wider array of sounds at their disposal. I think the pressure is now on them to make something distinctive again, because, really, HTTT is a distillation of their previous work. It's great music, but doesn't break much new ground. For a band like Radiohead, who gave us both OK COMPUTER and KID A, the expections are pretty high.


01-02-2004, 10:33 AM
Actually, Kid A and Amnesiac I believe both sold noticeably better than Radiohead's previous albums. Kid A was the number 1 album in the US when it came out. Not sure about Hail to the Thief. I see Kid A and Amnesiac as experimental albums from a band that was growing highly discontented with the musical limitations of the traditional rock band setup. They agreed beforehand that not every member would have a part on every song, and this was an important step because it allowed them the freedom to replace guitars and drums with strange instruments, found sounds, synthesized sounds, and traditional instruments processed into something different. From a thematic perspective the songs on those two albums were even more alienating than the ones on OK Computer; HTTT brought them a little back towards the real world. From a melodic perspective they were often purposely subverting, burying, or in some cases removing, traditional melodic lines -- although that's clearly not the universal case with these two albums, as they contain some of Radiohead's most beautiful music ("Everything in its Right Place", "How to Disappear Completely", "Pyramid Song", "Life in a Glass House", etc.). But I see those two albums as transitional, "get it out of your system" type albums; they went too far in certain directions which made some of the songs weaker, but it was certainly a worthwhile journey. (And, frankly, I feel that Radiohead's a good enough band that even with all their missteps Kid A and Amnesiac were a couple of the best albums of their respective years; they still towered above most of the other stuff released under the rock banner during that period.) I see Hail to the Thief as the pleasing result of what they learned in all their experimentation. They applied what they learned to an album on which the songs were not subverting themselves, an album on which there was no filler, an album that actually tried to be catchy, that engaged the outside world. I think Hail to the Thief is their best album since OK Computer and their catchiest album since The Bends. I think it's their second best album after OK Computer, and I don't really think Pablo Honey should be mentioned in the same sentence, as Radiohead is just such a better, more rich and nuanced, more innovative, band than they were back then. My main complaint about Radiohead is how formalist, how alienating, how brittle they tend to be. A lot of that is Thom Yorke, but of course he's the one that brings the genius as well. They really are our generation's Pink Floyd, for better and worse. They will be remembered as one of the great rock bands certainly but they're not our Beatles -- they don't have anywhere near the humanity.

Welcome to the board.

01-02-2004, 11:14 AM
I'm with you Jefferson, Kid Eh? and Amnesiac were both pretentious and ugly, droning messes.

People can say "they didn't want to make OK Computer again" all they want. I think it's fine to experiment as a band, but Radiohead went so far out of the realm of rock that they alienated legions of fans. These albums don't rock in the least, the kiss of death for a rock band.

I dislike the brittleness and compression distortion in Radiohead's music on all their albums. It sounds amateurish and sloppy. I realize that it's a fasionable sound these days, but I think it's gonna date today's music terribly.

WRT the sales of these albums, I personally think that those 2 discs sold better than OK Computer because people were expecting Radiohead to remain a rock band. The sales rode the wave created by OK Computer. I bet most of the copies of those albums are gathering dust in most peoples CD racks.

I recently watched the tour video "Meeting People is Easy" and was struck by what a whiney spoiled brat Yorke is. Sure, it must get annoying being asked the same 5 questions over and over again, but part of his job is to be gracious and professional. But in watching it I developed a better understanding of how/why the band decided to head down such a navel-gazing and self-indulgent path. They were poised to become the next U2 or REM and they wanted to be "arteests" instead. Yorke thinks, no, KNOWS what he's doing is Important. If you don't, if you can see through it, then the whole thing is just a melt-down.

01-02-2004, 12:01 PM
to catch me! ;)

Anyway, in regard to your scathing critique of Radiohead, I guess I agree somewhat with your opinion of their post-OK Computer efforts. I suppose when they reached that pinnacle of critical and commercial success (most of us know that OK Computer is considered by many critics to be one of the best rock albums ever recorded, whether we agree or not--I happen to think it is excellent) they figured they could take some liberties and do whatever they wanted and not really consider how the fan base would react.Isn't that the mark of true artists in a sense? They do what they want to do and hope that it appeals to others. Of course you're still going to have your formulaic hit factories that cater to the masses, but that's a whole different conversation.

No, I don't care much for Kid A as I'm a sucker for good melodies, and I don't think much of Amnesiac either. HTTT is a step in the right direction I think, although it's a far cry from OK Computer.


P.S. Nice topic for your first post. Keep 'em coming.

01-02-2004, 12:10 PM
......personally I'd much rather have the album "Pablo Honey" over "Kid A" or "Amnesiac". With songs as strong as Creep & Stop Whispering I don't see how you couldn't list it with "The Bends" & "Ok Computer". But thats just me. :D

I guess what it boils down to is songs vs non-songs.

Don't get me wrong that's not a slam and I'm not being a smart ass either. It's just that I prefer guitars to keyboards, understandable vocals vs chants. Maybe its age but I don't think so, I think its simply that I prefer a little more traditional approach, I don't need them to reinvent the wheel for me.

Troy, you mentioned Yorke's obvious ego, I guess that should come as no surprise. He did proclaim he wanted to be Jim Morrison on the first album. (Anyone can play guitar.) :rolleyes:

This has been a good thread I'm glad I got it rolling. I'd also like to thank those who welcomed me aboard. I appreciate it!

01-02-2004, 06:04 PM
First let me say, lest I forget later, Welcome Jefferson.

Second, I'm prolly the least knowledgeable about Radiohead among the regulars and semi regulars here . But FWIW here's my thoughts/experiences,

Kid A, one listen, gave it to my son.

OK Computer, couple of listens, not bad, but my son REALLY wanted it so he got it before I formed a definitie opinion.

The Bends. Just got it. Maybe 5 listens so far. It was enjoyable from the first note. . The boy doesn't know about and ain't getting this one. Its been in the car for two weeks and is staying for awhile, assuring lotsa play.

I don't know enough about them to comment more but based on other posts, Amnesiac is definitely NOT on my "buy" list.. I did buy the boy Hail To The Thief for Christmas, no feedback yet.

Dusty Chalk
01-02-2004, 08:08 PM
It's not a fair comparison. It's like comparing Ummagumma with The Dark Side of the Moon with The Final Cut, they're just completely different albums.

I have to admit, I didn't "get" recent Radiohead until I saw the video for "Pyramid Song" -- maybe you should track that down on the web somewhere (I believe has it), maybe it'll help you out.

OTOH, don't strain yourself. Just because something is a critical darling, does not mean that it's necessarily for you. OK Computer was a big sleeper hit, but I have yet to "get" it, in the same way that I "get" their last 3 1/2 albums.

01-03-2004, 06:08 AM
Personally I still think The Bends & Ok Computer are better albums than what has come out since. And usually I'd just pass that off as being a matter of preference kind of like with Pink Floyd I find myself listening more to MEDDLE than DARK SIDE OF THE MOON though I wouldn't go on record saying that MEDDLE was better than DSOTM.

I dunno, it'll be interesting to see what their next album sounds like. I know for my own purposes I'd really like to see them return to a more guitar driven sound. I'd also like to see Yorke's vocals be more prominant and not simply another sound within the mix.