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Radiohead – In Rainbows Bonus Disk

December 4, 2007

Well, seeing as how the diskbox has been shipped and people are starting to get their packages, I think it is appropriate to give a little acknowledgment to CD2 of In Rainbows, the bonus disk.

The disk consists of eight tracks, all of which are outtakes from the In Rainbows sessions. They sound like the other In Rainbows tracks in terms of production which to honest, isn’t really that great. I mean, the album is produced fine, but I have my gripes about it. Thom’s vocals sometimes need a little work. Especially the beginning of Bodysnatchers, where he sounds horribly aloft and mediocre, which makes no sense considering the end of that song has some of his best vocal moments ever.

But it just feels like more work could have gone into making these songs sound exciting. It was the same way with Videotape. Although there was an intended effect to the studio version of Videotape, it lost a great amount of it’s energy and charm from the live versions. Some of these recordings that we find on the bonus disk are equally as reserved, except this time more boring. Down Is The New Up was the reason I was excited about this bonus disk in the first place, and unfortunately it is given pretty lame treatment for how great of a song it is. Thom’s vocals are tired and mediocre, and the song could have been made much faster. The catch of it is that it is briefly dressed up with some really cool, sweeping strings, like the ones that make many of the In Rainbows songs really great. But they are very brief and should have been utilized more. To be honest, Down Is the New Up had the potential to be one of the best songs from the In Rainbows sessions, but it was simply botched. What you hear here sounds like a b-side, and it shouldn’t have been one. It’s nice to have the studio version though, even if it is a disappointment compared to some live versions you can get.

There was a big fiasco on a lot of Radiohead websites discussing what tracks MK1 and MK2 could possibly be once the tracklists were announced. Some people were thinking short instrumental interludes, and they were right. They are brief, minute long little vignettes that could have served as in betweens on the album. They sound interesting enough for what they are, but the choice to not include them was probably good, considering they are potentially uninteresting. You can hear how they fit in though. This makes them useful for understanding In Rainbows more, even if they are filler. But the catch is, they seem to come in a natural progression. MK1 rounds off Videotape, making this disk seem like an extention of the first disk. I, however, am pretty certain that both disks were not meant to be played together in this exact order. I guess I have no way of knowing for certain, but it is pretty obvious that the better tracks made the main release, and these songs don’t really feel like they progress as smoothly as the album.

There are some more relaxed, downtempo songs to be found here. Last Flowers was a favorite among fans, and was long hoped to clinch the album. However, it only made it as a b-side. It may be overrated, but it sure is a nice little song worthy of being recorded. When Thom shouts “Releeeeeasse” among his classic set of Radiohead lyrics, it reminds me of Morning Bell to a certain extent. It’s fractured, subtle, and ultimately beautiful. Quite nice. Another nice surprise is 4 Minute Warning. Instead of the sweeping piano treatment given during the live tour, the song is now mostly mellowed out. The finished product contains some nice vocal harmonization, acoustic guitar, piano, and tambourine, finished off with some nice studio tricks. It’s lazy, rhythmic, and potentially beautiful. A nice little surprise. It complements House of Cards very well. This easily could have been on the album.

The one I am probably most disappointed with is Bangers & Mash, but I was never impressed with it even when it was live. It’s a decent song, but sub-par when compared to the quality of most Radiohead songs. The drums sound dull, and it sounds like a rehash of Bodysnatchers, except this time kinda crappy. It sounds dry, to be honest.

What it needed was the kind of touchup that Go Slowly and Up On The Ladder are given. Both of these songs are fantastic. Go Slowly at first plays like a guitar accompanying a creepy old music box, and then quickly gains momentum and ends up being one of the saddest songs of the new bunch. Thom’s vocals are given an almost Sigur Ros esque treatment, building up to a heavy, desolate, trudging riff. It’s very nice. Up On The Ladder plays a similar game, but with more sheen. The song is bathed in beautiful echo, from the light percussion, to a lovely organ, to the vocals. The guitar riff has a comparably rhythmic twang to it.

In short, it’s good, as any Radiohead is, but you can see why these tracks are b-sides. This should be a no brainer for any fan though. These songs complete In Rainbows, and they are all very good. Production gripes aside, In Rainbows is a great album with great outtakes.

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7 comments

  1. but how many people are gonna ever list In Rainbows as their favorite radiohead album?

    http://www.workisboring.wordpress.com


  2. me


  3. I think you hit on everything there, I completely agree with everything you have to say. I would say Go Slowly is probably my favorite, it sounds the most lush and legendary.


  4. @body snatchers comment.

    possibly this is how he wanted it? im trying to hear the song any different as i listen and cant see how it could improve. quality of voice/diction? quality of tone? quality of editing/mix? thom has the amazing quality to almost sing slightly apart from what you would know of a trained voice, almost lazily at times. i personally think it sounds just right. just how i would want ‘radiohead’ to sound. i have a hard time believing they would release an album with such carelessness, as they seem to be one of the few bands these days who truly live and breath their music.

    i agree that in rainbows doesnt really coexist with some of their older music. honestly, the only reason i kept listening to it was because i had already such a love for them. now that ive accepted the changes they made, i really like the album. and i dont think changing the album according to what youre implying would make the album any better.


  5. i wonder if i’m the only one who feels this way:

    i think ‘thief’ had much better songs, which were mostly squashed in the mad rush to get an album done in 2 weeks instead of 2 years. compared to the flat sound of that record, i think the recording quality and production of ‘rainbows’ is much more natural and “3-D”. however, based on one full listen each, i was largely bored by the new one (with the exception of “videotape” and maybe one other song).

    conversely, i find disc 2 to be fucking great. where the main album falls into a safe, overly comfortable, mellow jazz-rock, almost homogenized version of what this great band is capable of, disc 2 has interest, variety, excitement, and experimentation all in good balance.

    i think i would have been happier if the two discs were reversed. well, if i could steal “videotape” to put at the end of this one.


  6. Looking at these comments goes to show you that the only thing consistent among Radiohead fans is their love for Radiohead! For example, I have the completely OPPOSITE view of that posted by greenandlonely. I absolutely love the new album, and listen to it on repeat, with the exception o Videotape. I skip that song EVERY time. As for the ‘bonus’ disc I pretty much agree with the original article.


  7. On “Go Slowly” I keep waiting for Thom to shout “there there!!!”



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