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Radiohead – Kid A Mnesia

November 28, 2021

I have a distinct memory of buying Kid A on release Tuesday October 2, 2000. My plan was to take my daughter to gymnastics lessons and kick back in the mini van and savor it in peace. I tore the cellophane off the CD and slipped it into the dash and out came a sonic gibberish and my immediate response was WTF? I was not savoring, I “woke up sucking on a lemon.”

I loved the previous two Radiohead releases: The Bends and OK Computer. I had great expectations for the new album. What I did not realize was the band wanted to sabotage their career. They recorded an intentionally challenging album, dumping their signature guitar sound for a stew of electronic music, ambient music, krautrock, jazz, and 20th-century classical music. I thought it sounded terrible, in hindsight I was clearly not hip enough to get it:

  • Kid A debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart
  • Became Radiohead’s first number-one album in the United States
  • It was platinum in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the US and the UK.
  • It won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year

It took me years to get it, but eventually I did. So it was with these informed expectations that I have been looking forward to this release. Specifically on vinyl as I have originally purchased these as CDs when they debuted.

Kid A and Amnesiac were released eight months apart from one another and were recorded simultaneously in 1999 and 2000 with producer Nigel Godrich. The re-release joins the two albums and adds a third album of outtakes and alternate versions. Kid A and Amnesiac flow seamlessly together and could easily have been originally released as a double album. I have to admit I have listened to Kid A more than Amnesiac. I was so put off by Kid A back in the day that I never gave Amnesiac a fair chance. Once I accepted Kid A, Amnesiac got lost in my collection and I never spent quality time with it. Listening to Amnesiac now, it is every bit as good as Kid A and more accessible.

I was excited for the third album of alternative takes and outtakes. However, that turned out to be underwhelming. There is some cool extra stuff, for example, “Follow Me Around” which could easily be a Seattle grunge song. But most of the extras are not that revelatory.

Overall, if you already own or have access to Kid A and Amnesiac in your desired format, this is release is not essential (unless you are a completist).

For me, I felt the need to upgrade from my CDs to vinyl, but as I publish this post, the vinyl release is still in supply chain limbo. I have yet to hear the vinyl – an initial batch of colored vinyl did make it out on release day, but that sold out immediately. Hope it will be worth the wait.

It arrived! And yes worth the wait.

From → Music Reviews

3 Comments
  1. Nice review, I was slow on the uptake too. I’m waiting for the vinyl …

  2. I hated OK Computer at the time, but the opening of Everything In Its Right Place had me hooked straight away.

  3. I have black vinyl, and it sounds good. I wonder if your experience of Amnesiac following Kid A was common, because that was mine too. When I wanted that mood, I reached for the Kid, not the companion. And I agree about the ‘bonus’ LP too. Bit underwhelming.

    I just realised. I now have three vinyl copies of Kid A. Sigh.

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