Radiohead – Amnesiac [Number 1 Album in the UK – 10th June 2001]


Amnesiac – Full album –

Pyramid Song –

Knives Out –

I Might Be Wrong –


***                  Pablo Honey (Capitol, 1993)
*****              The Bends (Capitol, 1995)
*****              OK Computer (Capitol, 1997)
*****              Kid A (Capitol, 2000)
****1/2          Amnesiac (Capitol, 2001)

According to the script, Radiohead was supposed to disappear after its flukey 1993 smash, “Creep,” leaving only fond memories of Thom Yorke’s Martin-Short-after-electroshock yodel and that wukka-wukka guitar hook. Certainly nothing else on Pablo Honey hinted at things to come. But then Radiohead shocked the world with the wide-screen psychedelic glory of The Bends, the album that raised these pasty British boys to a very Seventies kind of U.K. art-rock godhead. The depressive ballad “Fake Plastic Trees” turned up in Clueless, in which Alicia Silverstone memorably tagged the band “complaint rock.” In big-bang dystopian epics like “High and Dry,” “Planet Telex,” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” Yorke’s choirboy whimper runs laps around Jonny Greenwood’s machine-head guitar heroics. U2 would have sold crack to nuns to make this record.

Radiohead officially became kings of rock with their next album, OK Computer, which zooms even further into futuristic mind games and headphone textures than The Bends, even if it’s not quite as lyrical. OK Computer kicks off with “Airbag,” the catchiest song ever written about a car crash, disintegrating into electronic chaos at the end as guitarists Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien warp their instruments into a DJ Shadow–inspired glitch-core coda. Things only get bleaker from there, in darkly emotional ballads such as “Let Down,” “No Surprises,” and “Exit Music for a Film.” The seven-minute nervous breakdown “Paranoid Android” became a surprise U.K. pop hit. If Pink Floyd ever made an album this good, they kept it to themselves. Radiohead were claiming the high ground abandoned by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, U2, R.E.M., everybody; and fans around the world loved them for trying too hard at a time when nobody else was even bothering. Naturally, the band celebrated success with Meeting People Is Easy, a rockumentary about how depressed they were.

Radiohead’s response to all the acclaim was to get even weirder, laboring over the sessions that spawned Kid A and Amnesiac. Kid A is a detour into electronics riddled with anxiety and paranoia, but once again, Radiohead defied all expectations by reinventing themselves and only getting more popular. “Morning Bell,” “How to Disappear Completely,” and “Idioteque” were brutally beautiful ballads of emotional disintegration, caught between the lines “this isn’t happening” and “this is really happening.” Some fans hailed Kid A as a masterwork; others feared the band was turning into Jefferson Laptop. But Radiohead saved equally great songs for the second half, Amnesiac. “You and Whose Army?” beams in from the fifth side of the White Album; “I Might Be Wrong” rewires the Allman Brothers even as “Knives Out” rewires the Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead; and it all reaches an unlikely emotional peak in the two-minute guitar solo “Hunting Bears.” I Might Be Wrong is an ace live album featuring a new song, “True Love Waits.” Topping the charts with zero airplay, refusing to kiss a square inch of ass, too busy rewriting the rules to follow anyone else’s, Radiohead remained the kings, and the worst you could say is that they’re willing to fall on their faces.

The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Fireside, 2004).


1 Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box 4:00
2 Pyramid Song 4:48
3 Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors 4:07
4 You And Whose Army? 3:11
5 I Might Be Wrong 4:53
6 Knives Out 4:14
7 Morning Bell/Amnesiac 3:14
8 Dollars & Cents 4:51
9 Hunting Bears 2:01
10 Like Spinning Plates 3:57
11 Life In A Glasshouse 4:34


Artwork [Pictures Drawn By] – Tchocky

Artwork [Pictures Drawn By], Design – Stanley Donwood

Engineer [Assistant] – Gerard Navarro (tracks: 1 to 10), Graeme Stewart (tracks: 1 to 10)

Producer, Engineer – Nigel Godrich

Producer, Written By – Radiohead

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