Tag Archives: Fog

Top 10 Radiohead B-sides (in no particular order)

5 Jun

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In honor of Radiohead officially becoming “Dad Rock”with the release of A Moon Shaped Pool, I wanted to take a second and celebrate their immense songwriting catalog. I hate to say it, but this is their All That You Can’t Leave Behind (U2’s tenth album while AMSP is Radiohead’s 9th LP). It happens though, everyone loses their fastball at one time or another, even writers. It is crazy to cull the archives and look at just how many good songs were not good enough to make their albums.  It really goes to show how productive the band was from 1995 to 2001 (Bends, then OK Computer, but I’ve always thought there could have been 3 albums from Kid-A/Amnesiac era).

 

Bishop’s Robes When I went off to college, I was thrilled to meet a guy in my dorm who was an even bigger Radiohead fan than I was. He made me a CD with all of the B-sides from their (then) 3 albums. From the period between the Bends and OK Computer, this was immediately one of my favorites.

Gagging Order One of the prettiest songs from the Hail To The Thief era. The band decided it was better off being just a B-side. Listening to the album, you can see that it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the playlist, but that doesn’t change how beautiful it is.

India Rubber A true throwaway that never really went anywhere. Every time I hear this song, I want to throw on my Chuck Taylors, blue jeans, and my old Speed Racer T-shirt. This was also the first time I heard the word “supplicate”.

Trickster  A great one from the Bends era, that has that pure 90’s guitar sound. I wouldn’t have complained if this were included on the album.

Pearly OK Computer could have been a bloated double album like  the Smashing Pumpkins’ Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, but instead Radiohead released a bunch of EP’s and B-sides to accompany the album. A pretty smart move in my opinion. This period also featured my favorite cover art by Stanley Donwood. I would get chills looking at the album art as I spaced out on my headphones.

Worrywort This one sounds like a video game. Very mellow, but also a good message in the lyrics. I spent a great deal of my early 20’s with the Amnesiac B-sides playing through my earphones.

Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong This one is a slow build, but its climax is glorious. I may or may not have put this on a mix CD for a girl in college.

Fog  Probably the second best B-side the band has ever done. For some reason they really don’t dig the studio version–which I love. “Hey man!You like Radiohead? Have you ever heard the studio version of Fog? I mean have you ever heard the studio version of Fog….. ON WEEEEEDDD?”

Talk show Host The first time I heard this song was on a field trip to Houston. One of the girls in the van convinced the business teacher to put the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack. I dug it immediately,( but was still a closet Radiohead fan) so I filed it to memory, and bought the cassette tape at Sam Goody the following week. Probably one of the sexiest songs ever written. The girls in the audience went crazy when they played this on the OK Computer tour.

Million Dollar Question  Maybe the best B-side from Pablo Honey. The bassline during the bridge is phenomenal. The breakdown at the end is pretty fun as well.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Banana Co. This one has that trademark Jonny Greenwood guitar solo that earmarks the mid 90’s era. Its not their best B-side, but its a hard one for me to skip when it comes up on a playlist.

Butcher This is a good one from the King of Limbs sessions. Instead of doing a full album with everything they recorded this session, they put out a couple of EP’s to accompany the album. This song may have been as good as anything from The King of Limbs

Lull  (4:27) A great song to wake up to in the morning. This was usually the first thing I heard before heading off to Biology class.

I Will (L.A. Version)  My preference to the one released on the Hail to the Thief album. Colin Greenwood’s bass playing adds another dimension to it. They probably took it out because it sounded too much like something they would play.

Transatlantic Drawl Feedback, and a killer bassline make this song a nice change of pace for the Kid A/Amnesiac sessions. They do get a little weird with some effects at the end. I think my brain would have exploded had I heard this on either album.

How I Made My Millions One of the more beautiful songs to never be developed. The band says they simply can’t add anything to it.

Palo Alto An upbeat rocker that is a great number to throw on during your Saturday morning cleaning.

Cuttooth The B-side that bred the lyrics to Myxomatosis. Good work by the rhythm section on this one.

Meeting in The Aisle Precursor to the direction that the band was going during the Kid A/Amnesiac sessions.

Kinetic A very haunting industrial track. Its a grower for sure. Best listened to on headphones.

Maquiladora This song really captures the three guitar attack best.

Yes I am This is nice groove with a little bit of whine and cheese to it. Jonny’s guitar playing provides a nice edge to it that keeps it from sounding like old Pavement.

Permanent Daylight This was before they killed their guitars, played super repetitive melodies on piano, and built their songs around that riff. This is another echo of a distant time, evoking a bit of Sonic Youth.

March Madness Revisited pt. 1

14 Jun

Before the new year began I bought myself a dry erase board. This was a way to achieve two things:

1) I could keep track of weekly activities and duties.

2) I could have my yearly goals set right in front of my face and be accountable for them.

There were silly ones like get a membership at the local Y,

get myself a colonic,

take piano lessons.

Then there were the serious ones like buy a longboard,

take a cruise out of New Orleans and most importantly hit up my old stomping grounds for SXSW.

Last year I badly wanted to go because there were so many bands I wanted to see.

The Great Lake Swimmers interested me, I believe M. Ward was playing, this band out of Quebec, Final Flash was making an appearance. Unfortunately I didn’t get my schedule request in on time and couldn’t get the days off I wanted (I just cringed remembering that I wanted  to go see Donald Glover perform as Childish Gambino).

So I didn’t go.

This year it was a priority.

But with my recent increase in pay, I was delighted to find that I could afford to purchase really good seats for Thunder games. I bought 3 for the month of March alone.  I had tickets to see the Clippers, Timberwolves, and the Spurs.

I also had lucked into a ticket at the Radiohead show in Austin. On top of that Of Montreal was playing in Dallas at Trees.

Something had to give. It was going to take some serious creativity to do all of this AND keep my job.

SXSW was suddenly looking iffy. Two trips to Austin in a week seemed a bit crazy. But as some who know me would say, crazy was what I was best at (especially when it came to women).

Radiohead would be easy. That fell on the 7th which was an off day. I took the first bus out of Tulsa ( 4AM) and got into Austin about 3 that afternoon. I met up with my friends around 5 and we got ready for the show.

Let’s just say I ingested an assortment of party favors so that by the time the boys from Oxford took the stage I was seeing tracers ( and it wasn’t just from the light show).

Some quick history about me and Radiohead:

I’d first gotten turned on to them before my freshman year of high school. There was this punk ass kid who lived in my apartments who liked making trouble even more than I did. We immediately took to each other. We’d open unlocked cars and pilch through them, smoke cigarettes and drink beer from his mom’s fridge.

We eventually had a falling out over a girl. He asked out someone I was digging on at the time and this soured things between us. She would come spend the night at this place which perturbed me because he was already sexually experienced and I hadn’t even French kissed a girl yet.

One night when we were chilling at his place–the three of us– time got away from us, and before we knew it, six in the morning had come. A mixture of fatigue and melancholy hanging over me when this video came on MTV. It was a slow ditty, with this fella who had a beautiful voice, and it just captured me. There was a build up that led to a well timed feedback, and then it had this nice crescendo. Obviously this was the Creep video.

I went to school the next week and during social studies I looked over at this guy’s notebook and it had the words

“I wish I were special. You’re so fucking special.”

Yes. He knew. And I looked at him differently from that point on (PAUSE).

1993-1994 was a pretty interesting period for music when I look back on it.  At the time I was only into hardcore hip-hop and totally missed out on the alternative wave. I couldn’t understand what all these white people were so angsty about in their dull flannel shirts and weird hairdo’s  (though I do remember digging on some Mazzy Star–that shit went hard).

Fake Plastic Trees/High and Dry was the first single I bought when it came out in ’95 (I didn’t finally get Pablo Honey til ’97 because the only song I knew was Creep). I jammed the fuck out of that during my teen depression period–having finally kissed a girl but still not gotten laid.

At this point I was listening to the shit out of some U2 along with the hardcore hip hop (I was progressing) hiding my “white boy shit” in the closet whenever my black friends came to hang out.

By the time OK Computer hit the shelf I had graduated high school and was completely intrigued with this band that kept coming up in different junctures of my teen aged years.

This album  got me to buy in completely. I first heard it on headphones and it completely blew me away. Took me to places I’d never been. I spent months just driving around North Dallas listening to that album on full blast.

My friends called me a pussy. Though critics were hailing their latest work, most of my friends still knew them as the ‘Creep band’. Radiohead were certainly not in the mainstream quite yet.

When I found myself driving to Fair Park Music Hall to go see them, I was driving alone because no one I knew wanted  to go to the show. I didn’t have a ticket–in fact I had planned on watching a Red-Sox game on ESPN. It was a last minute decision to check them out.

I found a scalper and paid $80 bucks for a third row seat then I walked into the venue. It was pretty awesome to say the least. It was a life changing experience, one that I shared with only a few hundred people. It felt like being in a cool little fan club. It seemed like all the artsy kids I never hung out with in high school were there.

After the show I went out and bought their previous album, The Bends, and having heard a lot of the material live; I was officially a fan.

In the fall of 2000 I  met a guy at North Texas who had all the B-sides. He burned them for me and I couldn’t believe how many good songs there were that had never made it to an album. He had to put them onto two discs so that I could get them all.

This couldn’t have been timed any better because Kid A was their highly anticipated release. No one knew what to expect. When it came out I was a little disappointed. The beautiful depressing songs were few in number, replaced with these weird electronic beeps and noises.

What the fuck? I thought.  Yorke has this beautiful ass voice and he was hiding it behind synthesizers and weird effects and compressors. I couldn’t understand it, and just as weird as their music would become, so would the decade.

Every time I could finally catch up to what they were playing they would go in a different direction. And man the B-sides from that Amnesica-Kid A period was pretty fucking grooving. Some of them were better than songs that they put onto album(Fog is definitely in my top 20). Eventually I stopped trying to get it and just started digging it. Some songs of course were easier than others.

When In Rainbows came out I felt like that was the album I had expected to hear when they dropped Kid-A. It was an album I wanted to shag to, cry to, laugh to, dance to, it was impeccable.

When King of Limbs came out I knew better than to try and guess what it’d sound like. I even gave it 50 listens before I made a judgment about it. I knew there were some songs I liked, but some I wasn’t quite sure of (I still can’t listen to Harry Patch or Daily Mail).

I did know this would be a different show. They’d added a drummer to their stage show, and I was hoping this would be the thing to shake things up. I’d always been vocal about something having to change. I wasn’t sure if they were going to break up or what,especially after hearing how funky the Atoms for Peace band was.

My biggest fantasy was them doing an album with Brian Eno just to switch things up ( It made sense to me. Work with the guy who worked with the Talking Heads? they got their name from a Heads’ song).

But as always, the artist knows what’s best for them, and adding Clive Deamer (the drummer from Portishead) was a solid decision.

Every Radiohead concert I attended seemed to coincide with a transitional period in my life.  The first concert that I’d seen them in Dallas (OK Computer tour) was a pivotal period in my life. I was 19 and was just tapping into this other side of reality (beyond what I had known as a dumb jock). My tastes in art, fashion, and music (and consequently drugs) would drastically change. My reality would forever be altered.

I missed the Kid-A/Amnesiac tour because I was saving my money to make a move to Austin.

I caught them on the Hail to the Thief Tour which signaled my return back to university life back in Denton. I had moved back to the north Texas area after being swallowed alive by the Austin rat race. My grandmother had just passed away as well and I had just moved into my own apartment. The highlight of that night was seeing them play Lurgee off the Pablo Honey album (Jonny’s guitar wailing made me misty-eyed)

There was a touch of bitterness because I wasn’t close enough to the stage (my mother had purchased me GA tickets because she didn’t think I’d want to stand up all night in the Pit seating). The whole show my eyes looked longingly towards the pit area, wondering what if.

I had ridden with this girl that I had known back in the dorm days.  She had an OK Computer tat on her ass. She and her boyfriend drove down (with me in tow) and that was the first time I had a listen to the Gagging Order b-side, one of the prettiest tunes Thom had ever written.

In 2006, a buddy and I drove up to Toronto from his parents’ home in Michigan hoping to score some tickets to a show at the Hummingbird Theatre. They were only doing select gigs in theaters in a few cities across America. We scored some balcony seats for about 120 US dollars.

It was a great show. Very small and intimate. Not a bad seat in the house. But the night was soured because I couldn’t quit thinking about how much we’d spent to see them. I kept hoping that they’d play certain songs (Talk Show Host mainly) and frankly felt a little ripped off ( PLAY SOME B-SIDES DAMMIT!!!).

To punctuate the evening me and my buddy got into a fight because I wanted to eat at this Hooters by our hostel and he wanted to go somewhere local. We ended up wandering the streets looking for something open, both of us hungry and bitchy. We finally settled on a Falafel joint and went back to our room to smoke and go to sleep.

I’d go on to stand outside of 3 more concerts that tour, increasingly dissatisfied with their set lists. Why was I such a malcontent? Why did I suddenly dislike them?

Or was I just frustrated at how distant the band seemed from me in relation to that first concert? It seemed like every frat boy and douchebag liked Radiohead now.  Some of these yahoos probably couldn’t tell the difference between them and Coldplay. But Radiohead’s increasing popularity was driving the price for tickets up and it was damn near impossible to get floor seats for their shows.

So yeah I was sour. This was (probably?) silly backlash, and a juvenile response for their success. They were no longer this underground band that made me feel cool to be at their show. Just observing the crowds and hearing them scream like groupies at Thom made me sick. I  needed a break.

I skipped the In Rainbows tour for that reason and because most of the songs on that album I’d seen previewed on the theaters tour in ’06.

I wasn’t exactly sure if i’d see them on the King of Limbs Tour. My buddy Roach was very excited about the new stuff and had already bought a floor ticket for the Dallas show. He’d had good reports. Said it was easily the best show he’d seen by them.

This was encouraging.

So there I was.  I was 33 years old watching a show in a venue I’d worked at in my early 20’s, working shows like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tool, and Tom Petty. Hanging with some old school Austin friends. The moment was speaking to me. The douchebags and sorostitutes weren’t bothering me that much either. I even had a real job.

But what the fuck was I still doing in Tulsa when there was a bad ass city like Austin for me to live in?

“If you think this is over then you’re wrong.”

The show was incredible. And easily the best set I’d ever seen by them. They had somehow surpassed the Dallas ’98 gig. I realized a few things that night.

They were not going to break up. In fact they were better than ever. Somehow they were also super funky, with lots of poly rhythms and percussion. The addition of Deamer added a lot to the set (kind of when Talking Heads added more musicians to their live act).

They seemed so loose also. In my head I attributed it to them taking a dip at Barton Springs, and getting in tune with the city.

Greenwood was wearing a Texas shirt. The audience showed them so much love. You could tell they were enjoying themselves. Yorke even told jokes on stage.

” what do you call a fish with three eyes?”

A Fiiish” 

Yea I didn’t get it either at first.

But it was a perfect night that had given me something to think about. Mainly that I was way too liberal to be living in Oklahoma. But I was living there for a reason. Part of that was because I had a decent paying job that would allow me to do some crazy shit like I was doing this month.

I only got to spend a day and a half there on this venture but I’d be back in four short days for a week of mayhem. But I was not prepared for what I was about to encounter in the monster that SXSW had become.