I suppose this is somewhat of a tease for me to tell you that not owning the second disc of Radiohead’s In Rainbows is perverse since the band stopped taking orders for the deluxe package. Well, too bad. All you people who paid nothing for the download can suck it. I’m sure it will make its way to different file-sharing sites and various other methods of digital downloading, but the only REAL way to get it was to shell out the money for the vinyl, book, art, 2 CD slipcase set. And let me tell you, it’s beautiful. Yeah, that’s right, you missed out. Again, suck it. (Oh wait, I just found out that it’s merely the download you can’t get anymore. You can still order the limited edition box set from the website, so I guess you don’t have to suck anything.)
The second disc of rarities, extra tracks, b-sides or whatever else you might want to call it, while maybe not as incredible (or as long) as the original In Rainbows disc, is still one hell of a supplemental Radiohead record. I’ve stated before in these pages that I’m almost more of a fan of Radiohead’s b-sides than their regular material. Tracks such as “Palo Alto” and “Polyethylene” are in regular rotation on my iPod. Radiohead surely don’t disappoint with this bonus disc either. With six `regular’ tracks and two shorter instrumental tracks, it’s really more of an EP, but I’m not complaining. “Down is the New Up” is a song I first heard as a demo of Thom alone at the piano. It was mesmerizing then, with the end of Yorke’s lines following the hint of the title and getting higher, but the finished version, as always, is even more captivating. The drum, piano and string combination is a powerful one, playing like a cross between “Pyramid Song” and something from The Bends.
“Go Slowly” is aptly named, being the most meditative track on the album, full of echoing voices and acoustic guitars. This song could have easily been a b-side from OK Computer due to its hypnotic qualities. “Last Flowers” is another gorgeous piano and acoustic guitar number that shares traits in common with “Exit Music (For a Film)” or “No Surprises.” It’s hard to imagine how this song didn’t make it to any of their proper album releases, other than the fact that they may have thought it too similar to songs in their past. “Up on the Ladder,” a song they’ve been working on for a while, has Yorke claiming that he’s `a puppet, you can almost see the strings.’ While this may be typical Yorke paranoia, it’s certainly a welcome paranoia. It does sound like it could have fit in better with any of the tracks on either Kid A or Amnesiac, but I’m actually more reminded of Depeche Mode’s later stuff, especially from the recent Playing the Angel.
Man, that guitar line and those drums in “Bangers and Mash” are ka-razy! It’s definitely something different for the band, which is actually nice to hear after a set of songs that sound like traditional Radiohead, whatever that may be. Yorke’s choruses owe more to punk than rock and it suits him better than I would have expected. “Four Minute Warning” comes up last, and as sometimes happens with Radiohead, they’ve saved the best for that vaunted spot. Thom and company outdo themselves with this creepy track about the oncoming Armageddon, beginning with the lines, “This is just a nightmare, soon I’m going to wake up.” This is possibly the most minimalist that the band has been, and truth be told, it somewhat resembles a U2 track circa-Joshua Tree, though Bono would have added a few yelps here and there to represent the bombs falling to earth. A lot of the tracks on this second disc revolve around Thom’s piano playing, making it oddly similar to some of the later ballad material by the Smiths. I don’t know if anyone else hears it, but I sure did.
I ordered the In Rainbows deluxe set without hesitation. I didn’t really care how much it cost, I just wanted the full experience of the latest Radiohead release, and having just acquired a new turntable, I was eager to hear the band on vinyl. It took a few weeks for me to finally receive the set in the mail after it’s publicized December 3rd release, but I finally got it. And, of course, with my luck, my receiver, not but eight months old, died on the same day. Argggh! So, needless to say, while it’s being repaired under warranty, I’m still waiting to experience In Rainbows on vinyl. But, at least I have the incredible second disc to ease my frustrations.