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Track-by-Track review of unreleased album
Amnesiac - Radiohead
Member Name: kenigma
Amnesiac - Radiohead
Date: 09/05/01, updated on 09/05/01 (80 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent album
Disadvantages: A few "difficult" tracks
You'd BETTER read this coz it's taken me an hour +.
Ok...I have a bootleg copy I admit it! But goddamn you don't know WHAT you're missing!
If you're a faithful Radiohead fan then you'll have the albums and the stories behind them - you may even have some or all of the tracks off Amnesiac, but since the demise of Napster it's going to prove a lot harder unless you know your fansites.
For the rest of you - here's an analysis of what to expect on Amnesiac:
If you have read anything in the music press recently, you'll have seen that Amnesiac was said to be the more restrained songs that didn't go on to Kid A. While this can be said to be true for most of the songs on the album, there are a few tracks which knock Kid A's experimentality into next week.
If you're looking for classic Radiohead, Amnesiac will definitely not disappoint. You may have heard Pyramid song - the first single - on the radio recently. It's definitely more in the classic Radiohead vein, while still branching out somewhat.
If you're looking for the zany experimentation that featured so heavily on Kid A, you're not going to be disappointed either. There are some tracks that absolutely blew my mind the first time I heard them. This is to say nothing of the b-sides for the Pyramid song single that's out later in May.
Anyway - on with the tracklisting:
....01. packt like sardines in a crushd tin box
....02. pyramid song
....03. pull/pulk revolving doors
....04. you and whose army?
....05. i might be wrong
....06. knives out
....07. amnesiac/morning bell
....08. dollars and cents
....09. hunting bears
....10. like spinning plates
....11. life in a glass house
Track 01: packt like sardines in a crushd tin box
Starting out with what sounds like a crazy electronically-enhanced bongo solo, the bass line comes
in, then a organ-synth then finally thom's singing.
"After years of waiting. Nothing came. As your life flashed before your eyes. You realised. I'm a reasonable man - get off get off get off my case."
It's a mix between idioteque from Kid A (the bassline) and more standard radiohead songs. Its electronic influences are very clear - hints of Aphex Twin, and Warp records in general are still apparent. It's a nice introductory song to the album and by the end of the first listen you'll find yourself tapping your foot or singing along to the chorus.
Track 02: pyramid song
When I saw Radiohead playing live last summer, this was one of the most memorable songs that I saw them play at the first gig I went to. It's a beautiful piano-based song that Thom at one gig told us only used 3 chords. Every time they played the song they had glitterballs which lit up the venue with sparkly light - always sent shivers down my spine because of the song -
"I jumped in the river and what did I see? Black-eyed angels swimming with me. A moon full of stars and astral cars, and all the figures I used to see. All my lovers were there with me, all my pasts and futures."
There was a full moon that first night I saw them, and it was in a Roman amphitheatre in the south of France, so when you hear this song, imagine that and you can understand what I mean.
Pyramid song is a beautiful song, mainly piano with some strings and some drumming that is reminiscent of the cymbal-based accompaniment of lots of jazz songs.
Heart-rending Radiohead at its best.
Track 03: pull/pulk revolving doors
This is the most bizarre track on the album, and I'm still not sure if I like it or not. Thom's speaking through a voice box and there's some fuzzy basslines that consists of the main part of the beginning. Then there are some sampled synth bits that come in later. "There are trapdoors." &
quot;There are sliding doors, there are secret doors" - it's hard to make out what exactly what it is sometimes. I think I'd like the song more if there was less of the constant fuzzy bass - it's a very interesting departure into the realms of Aphex Twin and beyond. It's definitely the least approachable song, but nevertheless as I listen to it now it is growing on me.
Track 04: you and whose army?
You may have seen the press on this. Back last year at the Meltdown festival when radiohead played, Thom dedicated this song to Tony Blair and said sarcastically "I'm only sorry I never got to shake his hand".
The press immediately picked up on this and took this song as being a direct criticism of Tony and his cronies.
Whether or not this is the case is beside the point.
It's a great song
"Come on...come on...you think you drive me crazy. Come on, come on. You and whose....army. You and your...cronies. Come on. Come on. For your Roman Empire. Come on if you think. Come on if you think. You can take us on."
It's a gentle double bass and guitar accompaniment to the first half of the song, then the bass picks up and the piano kicks in too. Ed joins in to harmony with Thom and the song gains new life.
Another song that you'll like whatever kind of Radiohead fan you are
Track 05: i might be wrong
A strong start with a guitar riff and a drum-beat to match it.
"i might be wrong i could have sworn i saw a light coming on.
i used to think there was no future left at all i used to think."
It's definitely a return to the guitar-based OK Computer-type song, and one for the oldskool and newskool fans alike.
It differs a bit from the live versions they played last summer, but it's still brilliant. The guitar is a joy to listen to, and Thom's singing is as inspired as ever. There's an exceptionally good guitar solo towards the en
d by Jonny that seems to be the start of a new song as there is a pause before it, but it continues and is almost like a part-2 of the song as the tempo and feel changes. A wailing Yorke and a gradually increasing guitar presence builds up for the final climax.
Track 06: knives out
This is fast becoming my favourite song on the album. I always quite liked it when I heard them live, but as I hear it on the album I like it even more.
It's haunting, but rocking at the same time. The guitar bits have been finely crafted and deserve equal amounts of your attention as Thom's singing. The guitar that accompanies at some points seems reminiscent of a spanish mariachi's solo.
"I want you to know...it's not coming back. Look into my eyes. I'm not coming back. So knives out. Catch the mouse. Don't look down. Shove it your mouth."
I don't know what to say about this song - it's absolutely brilliant and I'm having a very hard time of doing it justice here...
Track 07: amnesiac/morning bell
"What's this?" I hear you say. No, you're not mistaken. Morning bell WAS on Kid A. When asked why it appeared on Amnesiac too, Thom said that it was completely different from how it was on Kid A, and they felt it deserved to go on. Well evidently so since it's the album's title track.
This version is much more relaxed, and missing Phil's excellent off-beat drumming, but as with the other songs, it has grown on me, and stands out as a great song in its own right.
It's very fitting to have called it Amnesiac - I've now almost forgotten what the original sounded like!
Track 08: dollars and cents
Lots of cymbals. Lots of percussion. A bit of guitar. A bit of synth. There's a repetitive cymbal and drum pattern that holds throughout the song as thom sings along. The song builds up getting more chaotic and louder as it goes along, then calms
down again for a bit with some harmonised singing.
"We are the dollars and cents...and the pounds and the pence...the mark and the yen and we're gonna CRACK your little skulls"
It's a great song, hard to describe, but definitely won't disappoint any fan.
Track 09: hunting bears
I never thought I'd rave so much about a guitar solo. Let alone one that's only 2 minutes long. It's a really evocative track despite its length and simplicity. There's a great almost sitar-like guitar and an organ synth playing a few notes in the background.
but it's absolutely BRILLIANT
Track 10: spinning plates
There's a lot of weird scratchy/windy noises at the beginning then a lot of fade-in synth sounds (this is because they reversed the song when editing and Thom sang the words backwards). The fade-in effect really gets you to pay attention because very little in the way of music gains in volume and reaches its peak at the end of the beat.
I can see this track being remixed and played in clubs - it's got that vibe about it.
When you first hear Thom singing, the words are pretty much unintelligible. Fair play since he's singing backwards. Then after a while you can make out what he is saying.
"And this just feels like - spinning plates. I'm living in cloud cuckoo land"
It's a really interesting song, and I only wish it was longer. It's almost 4 minutes but it's a ways into the song before you hear the vocals.
Track 11: life in a glass house
OH MY GOD!
They really saved the biggest treat for last.
I was in love with this song the minute I heard it.
It's Radiohead doing Jazz! Humphrey Lyttleton the famous jazz trumpeter is featured on this track. If you'd have told me a few months ago that Thom would sing jazz I couldn't have imagined it. It's absolutely brilliant!
t;Don't talk politics and don't throw stones your royal highnesses. But of course I'd like to sit around and chat, but of course I'd like to stay and chew the fat"
If you like jazz you'll love this. If you like radiohead you'll love this.
If only for curiousity's sake, get the album to listen to this. It is WELL worth it.
that concludes my review of Amnesiac
I hope you found it helpful