May 27, 2008


While speaking with my music loving brother-in-law this weekend I uncovered a gaping hole in his broad expanse of appreciation. I was sitting in my living room listening to In Rainbows, and IM’ing with him when it dawned on me that I didn’t know where he stood in relation to one of the more influential, groundbreaking bands of the last 20 years.

I’m not sure I would do Radiohead any justice by attempting a written history of the band. It essentially boils down to this…solid rock ‘n’ roll band with a huge single (Creep) on their first album, who instead of making a string of similar records decides to reinvent itself with each ensuing effort, thusly becoming one of the most iconic, permanently relevant bands ever.

Through all of the different forms that Radiohead has appeared as, one thing has stayed consistent; they have managed to remain both critically and commercially acclaimed. Plenty of bands have attempted to grow and shift their sound, often to their detriment or total demise. They are all left with a choice: Churn out the same record every other year, or take the leap of faith and try to keep up with the ever changing musical landscape. I would challenge you to name a band that has done the latter more successfully than Radiohead.

Not only has Radiohead stayed ahead of the curve sonically, but they have stayed ahead of it technologically, by releasing a “pay what you want” album via their website last fall.* I get it; if you aren’t already wealthy rock gods you can’t pull a stunt like that, but talk about vanguard ideas. They didn’t release sales numbers from the album, which just helps the cause. It doesn’t matter. The album is great and the press they received was through the roof.

So take a look to the right and give the new Radiohead sampler a try. If someone who is 17 doesn’t know the catalog, then my guess is that someone over 40 doesn’t either. However, if you are somewhere in the middle and were buying cd’s when OK Computer came out, and still can’t believe how earth shattering it was, then much of the list should be familiar to you.

*Editor’s Note: Unfinished Dad payed the nice, rounded sum of $0.00 for In Rainbows


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