on 10 June 2008
There are so many reasons as to why this album should be boycotted.
1. It's a blatant and pathetic cash-in and thus insult to everybody's intelligence.
2. It draws far too heavily from their "accessible" albums and thus in no way represents the exciting directions they've taken post OK Computer. Even the tracks that have been chosen from Kid A/Amnesiac are the most conventional from these ground breaking albums. This may be an attempt to appeal to those who are new to their material, but it's billed not as "an introduction to Radiohead", but as the "BEST of", which serves to suggest that anything they've done which is in any way different is not them at their best. Almost laughably stereotypical behaviour on the part of EMI, and again, an insult. Who's to say that those who have perhaps missed out on Radiohead the first time around somehow can't handle experimental music?
3. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING NEW HERE. No exclusive live cuts, b-sides, studio out takes...
4. Badly sequenced. Yes, their music can work out of context, but jumping from the meaningless (Anyone Can Play Guitar) to the inspired (How To Disappear...)? No. Just no. Even Windows Media Player set to "random" is less asinine.
No. No. No. No. It's awful. Despite it's horrible price tag, it's cheap. I have never felt so insulted and outraged by something so material. But then, I've never been so moved by any one band before. Just look at my username! I'm obsessed! And this...THIS! This is the absolute pits and proof conclusive, as if it were needed, that Thom Yorke is right about everything. They wrote a song about this sort of thing, you know. Well, they've written a lot of songs, actually, about corporate greed and inhumanity. One of them, ironically, is on this collection. It's called Knives Out, and EMI weren't even daring enough to place it on the slightly cheaper single disc edition. Said song likens greed to cannibalism. Apt, don't you think? But then, I doubt they listened to the lyrics of any of these songs before choosing them for inclusion. Knives Out was probably chosen simply because it was a single. Its inclusion here, then, reeks of all the unintentional buffoonery as did Reagan's embracing of Springsteen's "Born in the USA". Let's all point and laugh at EMI, then.
New to Radiohead? First of all, where have you been? Second of all, as has been pointed out about a thousand times now, for less money you can invest in several of their albums. You'll be rewarded with stunning, cohesive listening experiences. Beautiful statements of intent, alienation, rage, solitude, yearning, love, lust and emotions so complex that they cannot be summed up in words, only music, music so gorgeous that its effect is at once devastating and life-affirming. Cheap corporate trite like this serves to make a mockery of such wonderful music by making it painfully clear that it can be reduced to "just" a compilation album.
EMI? If you HAD to release a compilation, then fair enough. Everybody's got to eat. But there are so many ways that this could have been better. Compilation albums CAN act as valid introductions to a band and they CAN offer something for the hardcore fan base. Take The Best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, for instance, which, by featuring songs such as The Carny and From Her to Eternity, in no way shies away from his more unhinged side and thus acts as a summation of every style in which he's dabbled and is therefore a great place for newcomers to start. Or what about The Best of The Beta Band? It contained an almost entire live show as a second disc and as such was an essential purpose even for those who had been there from the start? And this live disc, might I add, contained the full version of The House Song, complete with it's extended drum solo. Again, every facet of the band's capabilities represented.
But what have we here? Mostly guitar music. Yes, it is the best guitar music to have been produced by anybody, ever (I'm obsessed), but that is not what Radiohead are about. They're about forward thinking, alienation, challenging themselves, getting out of their comfort zones. This collection serves to reduce them, though, to just another guitar band. And that is saying nothing of the excellent guitar music they've produced which is bafflingly omitted. Where's Subterranean Homesick Alien? (A particular sore point, given that it's my favourite song EVER). Where's Blow Out, easily the jazziest thing they've ever produced and rendered twice as stunning as it was featured on Pablo Honey, their least inspired of all of their albums.
You see, their work here is misrepresented grotesquely. You get a messy and unbalanced selection. Some of it's astounding, but that which is missing is unforgivable. Hell, it's very existence is unforgivable. I'll say it again: NO.
And it is NOT hypocritical to shun this.