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NEW RADIOHEAD: King of Limbs


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I have now had a day to listen and re-listen to the new Radiohead cd "The King of Limbs" and while I can't say that it is as accessible as "In Rainbows"(there's nothing as out-of-the-box striking as "Reckoner" or "Nude" was), I am starting to dig it more and more with each listen.

Early favourites on the new record are "Morning Mr. Magpie", "Feral" and "Give Up the Ghost".

Besides, it's Radiohead...who, along with Wilco, PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros, Lucinda Williams and a few others, will be remembered 20 years hence as one of the greats of this era.

I love Radiohead for the same reasons I got into Led Zeppelin: great musicianship, adventurous sounds, good production, and the stubbornness to follow their muse and do things their own way, conventional-wisdom be damned.

Just as Led Zeppelin could take familiar blues-rock tropes and create something scintillating and distinctly their own, Radiohead uses electronica to a similar end. Both bands cast their musical net over a wide and eclectic variety of sources, inspired by an ever-questing musical curiosity, yet the end result is always definable as being uniquely their own.

Whether Led Zeppelin was blazing through sun-blasted Arabian deserts or drifting down the muddy Mississippi river or mellowing out in the gorgeous green hills and dales of Wales, the resulting music always bore the unmistakable stamp of Led Zeppelin.

Be it a pile-driving blues stomper or a blissed-out English madrigal, Led Zeppelin had the ability to put everything through its magic filter and make it strange, weird, wonderful, and most importantly, ROCK! Even if they were just picking banjos and mandolins...their music rocked.

Radiohead is similar. Now before the fanboys get up in arms and say I am crazy for mentioning Radiohead in the same breath as Zeppelin, I am not saying Radiohead is the equal of Led Zeppelin in historical impact or that I would say they are my 1st or 2nd favourite band of all-time.

But they are creeping into my top 10.

And the feeling I get listening to Radiohead is strikingly similar to the feeling Zeppelin gives me, even though their approach is very different. Radiohead seems to go out of their way to not act or play like a standard rock band, even though all you have to do is take one listen to one of their early albums(say The Bends) and you know they could have made plenty of money and gained plenty of fans just regurgitating the same album over and over.

But just like Led Zeppelin refused to repeat Led Zeppelin II ad nauseum, so Radiohead decided after The Bends to follow their own muse, trusting the listener to follow them wherever it lead. Just as "In Through the Out Door" is as different to "Houses of the Holy" as "Houses" is to "Led Zeppelin I", Radiohead's "The King of Limbs" is to "OK Computer" what "OK Computer" is to "Pablo Honey".

It's just that the difference is that Zeppelin's inspiration to transcend the blues-rock genre lay in world music(primarily Celtic and North Africa) and Motown and Funk, while Radiohead's way out of the grunge-ghetto led through the fields of electronica and minimalism and the chopped-up beats of hip-hop.

But make no mistake, no matter how far afield Radiohead gets, they still make it rock(maybe not as "heavy" as Zeppelin but they rock all the same)...you know a Radiohead song when you hear one. It has the same indefinable "something" that separates them from their supposed followers/competition that Zeppelin songs had.

Just as Led Zeppelin were miles above the likes of Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple, etc., so has Radiohead distanced themselves from the Doves, Elbow, Coldplay, Muse.

Characteristics that both bands share:

1. A striking vocalist(Robert Plant/Thom Yorke) with an immediately identifiable voice.

2. A guitarist(Jimmy Page/Jonny Greenwood) with an individual approach to the instrument and an ability to sculpt mesmerizing soundscapes.

3. A great drummer(John Bonham/Phil Selway) capable of handling any beat or time signature the band needs. Trust me, you have to see Radiohead live to appreciate the job Phil Selway does.

4. A bassist(John Paul Jones/Colin Greenwood) with a way with a groove and the ability to play keyboards as well.

5. Consistent quality production...their albums always "sound" good.

And while Radiohead doesn't sell near the amount of records that Zeppelin did, they can sell out any show at the drop of a hat. Their live reputation has grown exponentially through the years. If you've never seen them live, you owe it to yourself to at least check them out once.

So back to the thread...what are your thoughts about the new Radiohead?

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Well, I've been listening to it since the digital release (newspaper album coming in May :) ) and I do really like it. It's not really anything that innovative or new by Radiohead's standars, it's just a short collection of mostly great songs. My favourites are Bloom, Feral, Lotus Flower, Codex, Give Up the Ghost and Separator. I'm also gonna try to get a hold of that new single they are releasing for record store day. Many people were suprisingly disappointed with the album but a part of the problem might be that it requires quite a few listens to get into.

As for Radiohead in general: If someone were to ask for my favourite band ever right now, it would be a close call between Radiohead and Pink Floyd and ultimately I think I'd choose Radiohead. They have the amazing ability of taking influences from many sources and then making music that still sounds like Radiohead. As you said, they got a signature sound. I also can't understand the people that say Radiohead went bad when they started to experiment with electronic music. As much as I love OK Computer, I have to say that the change was for the better.

My top Radiohead album rankings would go something like this:

1. Kid A

2. OK Computer

3. Amnesiac

4. In Rainbows

5. The King of Limbs

6. Hail to the Thief

7. The Bends

8. Pablo Honey

I think Amnesiac might even be my favourite if they had chosen the songs for that album a bit more carefully. The b-sides to Amnesiac are mostly amazing. Songs like The Amazing Sounds of Orgy, Trans-Atlantic Drawl, Kinetic, Fog and Cuttooth are great and would replace a few songs from Amnesiac in my mind. Especially Fog is a simply amazing song, over the course of the last few weeks it has become one of my all time Radiohead favourites.

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Yeah, Xorq you are right about the b-sides...Radiohead's always had amazing b-sides. Remember the b-sides for the Bends that were collected on the MY IRON LUNG EP? Songs like "The Trickster" and "Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong" were better than some on the Bends. Or how about the OK Computer era b's? I remember thinking how could they not put "Pearly" or "A Reminder" on the album?

Another thing about Radiohead that is similar to Led Zeppelin is that it's hard for me to pick a favourite album...just as I can't decide btween Physical Graffiti. LZ III & LZ IV as my favourite, OK Computer, Kid A, In Rainbows and even The Bends all take turns as my fave Radiohead, depending on my moon.

That's when u know a band is good...when they have so many good records it's hard to choose a favourite.

Oh and thanks for reminding me about the newspaper thingy...I guess you heard about the snafu in Washington DC the other day?

I didn't get the new one until the cd came out Tuesday...I'm not a downloader and I've got enough other music to get through that I can be patient and wait for the record to come out in physical form.

Hell, I've got a stack of 20 cds still in the shrinkwrap waiting to be listened to.

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Hmmm...only 1 response? Did I miss something...was King of Limbs discussed in an earlier thread? If so I didn't see it.

Or is Radiohead even less popular than cricket with this board?

Considering some of the other band threads that garner multiple responses and juicy discussion, the lack of response to a Radiohead thread makes me wonder.

Maybe I should have put "80's suck" in the thread title.

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Maybe I should have put "80's suck" in the thread title.

Perhaps. For one thing, thanks to Facebook old fashioned message boards like this are dying a slow death. Another thing would be that a whole lot of people that post here aren't interested in new music. Sad but true.

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Like Led Zeppelin, Radiohead is another English band that seems to have taken to the Los Angeles sun, making the city a near-second home lately. Thom Yorke made a surprise appearance recently...NO, I was not there, sadly.

But here's a report from someone who did...

Thom Yorke Performs Last-Minute DJ Set

By Matt Diehl

March 10, 2011 10:50 AM ET

The Twitter rumors about Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's DJ set at Los Angeles club The Airliner began early Wednesday afternoon. Radiohead hasn't played any solo shows or announced any tour plans as of yet to promote their new album The King of Limbs, but Yorke's been playing surreptitious solo DJ sets around L.A. in past weeks, and so by 9:00 p.m. a line literally snaked around the block to get in — even though no one had confirmed that Yorke would actually show up.

But around 11 p.m., show up he did, taking to the turntables at the stage's far left corner and commencing an eclectic mix aimed equally at both dance floor and brain. He began with an acidic minimal techno track that spawned the first of many hands-in-the-air moments for the crowd rammed into Low End's sweaty, 350-person capacity main room.

In terms of genre, Yorke's hour-plus set was a moving target. He moved from 4/4 thump to Burial's skippy dubstep to Aloe Blacc's earthy funk and beyond; in particular, he reiterated his love for the Stones Throw label's eccentric hip-hop, with tracks from Jaylib and Madvillain proving audience sing-along favorites. (Unsurprisingly, he didn’t play any Radiohead or solo songs; the crowd didn’t seem to mind.)

Watching him spin, it was clear Yorke takes his DJing as seriously as his main gig: He worked the mixer with abandon, favoring clean, smooth blends at times, rough transitions at others; he started very seriously, concentrating on his song choice and mixing, but as the set progressed he began to loosen, displaying the trademark dance moves from his live performances as well as videos like "Lotus Flower”; he even pogo-danced like a nutter during Major Lazer's raucous "Pon De Floordrop.” Other highlights on his set list: Squarepusher's deconstructed two-step classic "My Red Hot Car," and two odd Eighties New Wave jams, Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator" and "The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)" by Fun Boy Three.

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Didn't mean to skip out on your thread, Strider. I love Radiohead, and I have to admit it took awhile for the album to grow on me. I'm glad you mentioned Nude as one of the standout tracks on In Rainbows, because I really think it's one of their greatest compositions. Truly.

As for where King of Limbs ranks for me, I'd put it at tie for #4. In Rainbows, Kid A, and OK Computer are my top three.

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^ ^

Hey that's ok Electrophile...better late than never :),

We all get busy. Heck, there's 3 or 4 threads right now that I've been meaning to post to but keep forgetting...either because I don't have the time to respond or I've forgotten what or where it is I want to respond.

Plus there's the time difference. Being on the Pacific coast everyone in the rest of the world seems to be asleep when I finally get the time to come on the board.

Back to Radiohead...the #4 or 5 slot seems about right where I'd rank King of Limbs.

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