Hail To The Thief
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RADIOHEAD Hail To The Thief CD
So here it is at last. The most anticipated album release of the year. Many of you probably became sick of all the incredible hype weeks ago. Those lucky few who've been listening to Hail To The Thief, by fair means or foul, have been ranting and raving for weeks. Annoying the rest of us who have to (or want to) wait until the official release date. They've been foaming at the mouth with excitement; "The Saviours of Rock 'n' Roll return with best album in the world ever!!" and such like. But is it justified?
To be honest, I loved OK Computer but was alienated by Kid A and didn't really get into Amnesiac for one reason or another. Hail To The Thief is without question more accessible than its two predecessors. But to say it's a step backwards or disappointing in any way is foolish.
Radiohead, the most popular innovative band on the planet, haven't broken any new ground here, as they did with Kid A. This album sees a return to simple song construction. Guitar, drums and keyboards form the backbone of these 14 indie pop songs.
"Go To Sleep" and "Where I End and You Begin" are fantastic. Driving guitars attack from all sides, demanding your attention, juddering with impressive force. Yorke's vocals are in fine form here; melancholic and hypnotic.
"A Punchup At A Wedding" is sublime. The song rolls effortlessly along taking the listener on a serene journey which also provides subtle amusement along the way: 'You had to piss on our parade, you had to shred our big day...in a drunken punch up at a wedding'.
There are still the wonderfully eerie sounds ("The Gloaming") and the computerised electronic bleeps ("Sit Down, Stand Up"). These songs provide evidence that Radiohead are still capable of producing ambitious music which is remarkably enjoyable.
Current single "There There" is number four in the charts and the album is about to set up residence at number 1. How do Radiohead maintain their position as the world's most successful, non-mainstream band? Is it because Thom Yorke rarely smiles? And doesn't have a celebrity girlfriend? I suspect it's because they make some of the most amazing, anthemic, inspiring music around today.
All Hail Radiohead. --Dan Tallis
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Top customer reviews
Hail To The Thief is a warning. A stark warning about a future every bit as dystopian as those imagined by Orwell, Huxley or the Wachowski brothers. Confirming Thom Yorke in the role of a modern seer and soothsayer, it doesn't flinch from whispering uncomfortable secrets about our society's slow slide into drugged sleep. A sleep, he insists, from which we may very well never wake up. "It's the Devil's way now. There is no way out . . . it's too late now because you have not been paying attention."
The blame isn't neatly projected onto oppressive governments or power-crazed politicians. Although the album title is an ironic attack on usurper-in-chief George Dubya, Yorke's fractured lyrics pitilessly expose the cowardice which makes us close our eyes to abuse and console ourselves with lies. He turns the mirror on our own excuses and evasions, reminding us in song after song that "we don't wanna wake the monster." The disembodied voices we hear in his songs wriggle and protest, sidling away from responsibility. "Sandbag and hide . . . let me back, I promise to be good . . . I'm gonna go to sleep, let this wash all over me . . . we tried but there was nothing we could do."
But is the polemic being pushed at the expense of the music? Not a bit of it. The fact that these are some of the most heartrendingly beautiful songs they've ever recorded only adds power and pathos. Jonny Greenwood's continuing love affair with vintage electronics has resulted in some lush and lovely arrangements. Yorke's voice has never been better and the stark mechanisms of Kid A and Amnesiac have come to some kind of accommodation with melody. The results are often spectacular.
And the sense of gathering gloom isn't an unrelenting one. There's still room for hope, Yorke seems to be saying; there's still time to wake up and take charge of our lives rather than living at the disposal of dubiously motivated leaders, corporations and conglomerates. There's still time to head off Armageddon.
In the ethereal Sail To The Moon he dreams of a future where a president might "know right from wrong"; where a saviour might "build an ark and sail us to the moon." And in I Will, Everyman calmly turns the tables on those who'd deny him a future: "I won't let this happen to my children, meet the real world coming out of my shell . . . I will rise up."
Like the cursed Trojan prophetess Cassandra, Thom Yorke is probably doomed to disbelief by those who'd rather write him off as a paranoid obsessive with too much time on his hands. Cassandra warned about Greeks bearing gifts, but her advice went unheeded and the Trojan Horse duly wrought death and destruction. Yorke's writings and interviews have also spoken in the past of infiltrating "dark forces", eliciting a sharp response from British prime ministerial mouthpiece Alistair Campbell.
But if you're the type that still listens to prophecies, Hail To The Thief is a wake-up call of astonishing clarity.
The album itself makes up the first CD. i will not say much about it as everything that needs to be said about Hail to the Thief is probably covered in other peoples' reviews. it is left just as it was, as it should be in my opinion - i don't think there's any need for remastering, and appending any bonus tracks to this disc would stop it ending the way it was meant to. radiohead albums always end well so it's fortunate that it's kept that way.
the second CD is all the B-sides from the album's singles plus a few live songs. (most of this is on the COM LAG (2plus2isfive) EP.) the B-side songs, while not as good overall as the album songs, are quirky and/or interesting, and still very good. Gagging Order is just gorgeous. NOTE: THIS 'LOS ANGELES VERSION' OF 'I WILL' IS DIFFERENT TO THE ONE ON THE COM LAG EP. THE ONE HERE ACTUALLY SOUNDS LIKE IT'S AN EXTENDED VERSION OF THE ALBUM VERSION.
the DVD has the music videos for the singles and four songs performed on Later... with Jools Holland. there could probably be more on here but oh well.
also in the box is the original booklet (again it's good that this is kept the same - the artwork is great), three postcards with the covers of the singles on them and, best of all, a huge fold-out map which i believe came with a limited edition version of the album - as with the second Kid A booklet and the Amnesiac library card it was quite generous to include this.
So, in summary, you'll get your money's worth even if you already own Hail to the Thief and Com Lag. and it's definitely better value than the version which just has the two CDs.
They returned to a guitar based sound here, possibly due to pressure from certain areas of their fanbase and the press, but also possibly to experiment further to see if they could hybrid their newly found electronica with their existing guitar prowess.
You have to be patient with Hail to the Thief, but you're rewarded if you are so with the material at hand. Stand out tracks personally would have to be 2+2=5, There There, Myxomatosis and Sit Down, Stand Up.
If you're willing to have a complete Radiohead collection, then it's worth purchasing this. It almost stands in its own corner away from the rest of the band's catalogue, which makes it unique of course.
Buy it, but be patient.
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