RADIOHEAD - THOM YORKE - "Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!"
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Radiohead: Kid A (CD, 48:15) Capitol 27753, 2000

Radiohead's previous CD, OK Computer, has been heralded almost
unanimously as one of the finest modern progressive rock recordings.  It was
both a giant leap forward from their previous recordings, and a giant leap
forward for popular music, challenging listeners and demanding their full
attention.  Songs like "Paranoid Android" and "Aircrash" weren't cookie-cutter,
brain-candy for the masses; these songs were INTENSE.  The fact that
OK Computer met with such critical and popular success was a good
sign that perhaps there really was a place for intelligent music in
mainstream pop culture.  Of course all that success left Radiohead fans with
one question - "How is Radiohead going follow THAT?"

Well, what Radiohead did to top OK Computer is their latest release -
reportedly a concept album about an present-day cloned human being that has
been walking among us - titled Kid A.  This CD marks an even greater
leap forward musically for Radiohead than did OK Computer; Kid
A takes every musical convention held dear by the majority of the
record-buying public (clean production, verse/chorus/verse, guitars that
sound like guitars, etc.) and simply threw them out of the recording studio
window.  Radiohead has taken some very daring and aggressive chances with
their latest release, and it pays off in spades with yet another modern
classic that quite frankly makes OK Computer sound like bubble gum

From the first eerie organ chords of �Everything in its Right Place� to the
funeral dirge �Motion Picture Soundtrack,� Radiohead wears its brooding
heart on its sleeve with some incredibly raw and emotional music that is
sure to immediately disturb fans upon first listen.  There is something
throughout the whole of Kid A that just seems a little askew: the
vocals are sometimes a bit off key, the chords are dissonant, ethereal sound
effects, backwards tape loops � Radiohead pulls out every trick in the book
to create a soundscape that is both captivating and soul-jarring at the same
time.  Fans of Radiohead�s �Creep� need not apply � you�ll barely find a
proper guitar sound anywhere on the album.

The title track Kid A can only be described as sounding like the
maternity ward at an insane asylum, featuring discordant music box samples
combined with Thom Yorke�s barely discernable and heavily distorted voice.
The vocals on this track reminded me a little bit like what I�d expect a
parent�s voice to sound like to a one hour-old baby.  �National Anthem�
starts out almost normal with a driving bass lick and good backbeat, but the
song gradually introduces a horn section that soon takes over the track and
turns it into an out-of-control acid jazz number that is sure to baffle
program directors nationwide.  Radiohead does at least include a couple of
ALMOST ready-for-radio tracks with �How to Disappear Completely� (a
beautiful ballad featuring some nice acoustic guitar and excellent vocals
from Yorke), and �Optimistic� which could probably be snuck into an AOR play
list.  However, other than those two exceptions, (and they�re even stretching
it a bit), there are no tracks on Kid A that I expect to receive any
radio airplay whatsoever.  This is by no means a bad thing, as it will force
listeners to hear the CD in its entirety, (which is how it should be heard).
However, the fact that Kid A is about as radio-friendly as Sun Ra may
be the reason that the band is releasing a follow-up album of apparently
more accessible songs in a mere six months.

While all of Kid A is nothing short of brilliant, Radiohead really
hits the mark on the track �Idioteque� � a song combining dance hall beats,
bizarre background noises, and a fantastic vocal turn by Yorke.  The lyrics,
which seem to be the thoughts of a man running for an underground bunker
during a nuclear strike, add to the �bomb shelter discoteque� feeling.  What�s
really interesting about �Idioteque� is that while the lyrics and
background noises are extremely disturbing, the house-style beat makes you
want to move you body at the same time.  A very strange mixture of emotions
that works incredibly well.

So I suppose the big question comes down to "Is it as good as OK
Computer?�  Well, I�m going to cop out and say that it�s impossible to
compare the two, as they have almost nothing in common.  OK Computer
at least clung to a thread of convention - Kid A completely explores
new musical ground with no regard for the preconceived notions of what
people think music SHOULD sound like.  Radiohead continues to push and tear
away at musical barriers, and must be commended for their adventurous
spirit, especially when it results in Kid A - a release that stands
as an excellent exit soundtrack for the 20th century.  Another masterpiece.

More information on Radiohead can be found at

- Michael Askounes (

Thom Yorke: Vox, Guitars, Synths
Johnny Greenwood: Guitars, Synths
Ed O'Brien: Guitars
Colin Greenwood: Bass
Phil Selway: Drums

1. Everything in its Right Place (4:12)
2. Kid A (4:47)
3. The National Anthem (5:50)
4. How to Disappear Completely (5:57)
5. Treefingers (3:43)
6. Optimistic (5:17)
7. In Limbo (3:32)
8. Idioteque (5:08)
9. Morning Bell (4:38)
10. Motion Picture Soundtrack (4:21)
11. (Hidden Track) (0:49)

EER Editor note: Hmm, Mike, sounds like I'm gonna have to find myself a copy of this! Thanx for tipping we audiophilic, eclectic weirdos off to this unique release. Ciao!


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