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Radiohead TKOL RMX 1234567

October 12, 2011

When King of Lambs came out earlier this year my judgment was that it was not the greatest Radiohead album ever, but I liked it.  In fact my only criticism at the time was that I thought it was kind of short at little over 30 minutes.  There were a couple of tunes I would put on my own Radiohead best of mix (about all you can expect from any album from a band you love – most bands are only allowed two full album masterpieces in their catalog – Radiohead has arguable three – but as you see I only count two).

I appreciated that Radiohead threw us all a bone with the free singles Supercollider/The Butcher this summer to make up for the short album.  I am not enough of a fan to have paid for and kept track of the endless remixes of The King of Lambs songs that have come out over the last several months.  But I am enough of a fan to have picked up the two CD collection of these remixes for $12 bucks at my local Best Buy this week.

I have listened to the collection a few times now and some of the remixes I really like.  Others I just don’t get.  Now let me take the opportunity to say I don’t get most techno, electronica, dubstep or whatever you want to call it (and I assume that what these remixes are).  But keep in mind I am middle aged and not particularly adventurous in my listening (more than most my age, but more often than not I would prefer to listen to a classic Steely Dan side on vinyl).

I have no idea if the right audience for this music would think this stuff is cool or not. Pitchfork gave it a 6.0 – which by their standards is pretty good.  They gave James Blake a 9.0 – which I find unlistenable.  So I guess means this means this Radiohead remix is at the Katy Perry level (that is, Radiohead bubblegum remixes).  Anyway I would say I like about half of the songs here.  I prefer CD 1 as I can still hear Radiohead in most of the remixes. CD 2 deconstructs some of the songs to the point that you would not even know the source artist – maybe that is cool, but I did buy a Radiohead album.

Let me give you some background on my own experience with Radiohead.  I picked up The Bends when if first came out – I must have read a review or something.  I was completely blown away by it.  This was the most excited I had been about a new band since U2 first came on the scene.  I found it completely original pop music (that you could actually listen too – most “original” pop music is over my head – at least at first).  Everyone I played it for thought it was cool too. I learned reading magazines that cool music heads (AKA music snobs) thought it was cool too.  Wow – I was riding on the edge of hip pop music.

I could not wait for the follow up OK Computer and was not disappointed – it was even better.  Then came Kid A.  I distinctly remember my first contact with it.  I bought it the day it came out, I brought my daughter to gymnastics and had uninterrupted hour to kill (now this was a time in my life with small kids when an hour uninterrupted to listen to my favorite band was about as good as it gets).  I listened with an enthusiastic ear and I was devastated – I did not like it, in fact I hated it.  What at the coolest band in the world done?  Had they completely lost their mojo?

Then I learned the devastating news – all the music taste-makers said this was a breakthrough album – a work of genius (for example see Pitchfork’s rare 10.0 review).  Oh no.  I was no longer hip.  I continued to try and listened to Kid A over and over to see if I could learn to like it.  Maybe it would be one of those albums that I could learn to like and love (in my cannon that would be Miles Davis Bitches Brew and The Rolling Stones Exile of Main Street – albums I genuinely did not get at first but learned to love).  But it never stuck.  10 plus years later I can kind of get it, but not really.

Needless to say I have purchased about everything Radiohead has commercially released on the hopes of getting that Bends/OK Computer high.  In Rainbows and King Of Lambs are getting close – reasonable reminders of the band I once loved.  With that I can endorse TKOL RMX as a something a Radiohead fan will get a kick out of, but not something for the casual fan.  I would be curious what someone more hip than me would think.

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From → Music Reviews

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