I’m not sure I could ever really explain the excitement I felt waking up on the day Radiohead released In Rainbows digitally. It’s that childish feeling of an upcoming birthday party, the early waking-up of Christmas morning, that longing that only comes when you really, really want your best friend to come over later that day. And the relief and joy at finding I absolutely bloody loved the thing from beginning to end is a whole other level of happiness.
Unfortunately, I was just too skint to afford the wonderful looking discbox they released at the same time, and so missed out on the second disc of In Rainbows. That is, until now, considering they just released it for digital download on their w.a.s.t.e. shop website.
Made up of eight tracks eventually not accepted for the final cut, this is clearly not a second album release, but new Radiohead material is never something to ignore. In fact, it’s something to study, and work out why it didn’t make it onto the album, while looking at its own merits. Even on a first listen, it is clear why these didn’t make it onto the album, as In Rainbows has a very distinct sound and progression of ideas throughout, and these simply don’t fit into that scheme. However, and I’m really showing my bias here, that’s certainly not a negative indictment of the tracks on offer here, they’re all excellent, just not in the same spirit of things.
“Down Is The New Up” is a drum-driven freak out, full of the simplistic guitar and bass riffs that populated the earlier ‘head records, whilst Thom works his voice up and down the octaves like nothing else, reaching new squealing, and almost strangely Prince-like heights in the closing sections. Contrast this with “Go Slowly”‘s heavily weighted guitar chords and ambient, echoing swirls of Thom’s vocals, and we can quickly see that these tracks weren’t made to fit together, just simply to exist singularly. But that makes the disc 2 experience all the more lovely, seeing what direction the album could have taken.
If it had been down to “Bangers + Mash”, with its almost Beefheart guitar repetitions, and particularly odd lyrics, we could have had an almost unrecognisable sound dominate. Then again, if “4 Minute Warning” had been the focal point, we would have had sparse soundscapes, tremulous vocals and slow-building ballads. But the real question I ask myself as a self-professed Radiohead freak is, would any of these directions have been a bad choice? Easy answer: Nope.
PS. Here’s an absolutely inspired mashup by Overdub of one of my favourite song from In Rainbows, “15 Step”: