Review Summary: A good listen for people just getting into Radiohead.
Radiohead- The Best Of
There are four things that make all the Radiohead albums except Pablo Honey great: the flow by song to song, the development of the quality of the songs as the album goes on, the development of the sophistication of the listening process as the album goes on, and the general great quality of the songs. When I bought and listened to “The Best Of” I judged it by these four categories to see if it would be a good listen.
First of the flow of the album is terrible, I mean we don’t have the magical moments were “Airbag” flows into “Paranoid Android”, instead we have the awkward few seconds of “Just” flowing into the brilliant mega epic “Paranoid Android”, sure they are both great songs but they just don’t flow well together. Another example of this is “There There” going into “Lucky” it just doesn’t flow and transition as smoothly as you would expect a normal Radiohead record to. This to me makes “The Best Of” a hard listen and I would prefer the flow of other Radiohead albums.
The songs don’t grow in quality as the album goes on; something I have loved about all the Radiohead albums. You can have a great song like “Let Down” followed by the rather mediocre “Planet Telex”. Sure “Planet Telex” is a very decent song but it has no right to be even followed by "Let Down". Also the album has to much "Pablo Honey:, I mean honestly is “You” intended to be anything but a simple intro to a rather bad album? And have any of the true Radiohead fans ever liked “Anyone Can Play Guitar”, I mean the songs are OK but they have no right to be following “Talk Show Host” or other quality songs. I think the best way for this album to be organized would to have all the "Pablo Honey" songs first, then "The Bends", "OK Computer"," Kid A", "Amnesiac", and "Hail To The Thief "following each other. Because when you just put these songs on shuffle on your ITunes like I think EMI probably did, it doesn’t make much sense. And with this album we have a mess of songs mixed together and it makes for a really unpleasant listening experience.
Another cool thing about Radiohead albums is how they become harder to listen to as the album goes on. I mean look how you start “The Bends” with a simple song like “Planet Telex”, yet the album ends with the haunting, experimental, and just flat out awesome “Street Spirit”. Or on “OK Computer” were the album opens with a fairly simple “Airbag” and towards the middle of the album we are listening to robots talking on “Fitter Happier”. On Kid A were the sophistication grows track by track were Thom is singing a sort of love ballad on “How To Disappear Completely” and it is followed by a haunting musical interlude called “Treefingers”. This album doesn’t have these moments. Sure the first CD starts with “Just” and ends with “Everything In Its Right Place” but in between we see “Karma Police” being followed by “Creep” and that is just crap. So the album does have some moments of musical progression but it doesn’t progress consistently, which isn’t a huge problem but doesn’t make it as enjoyable of a listen as it could have been.
The quality of the songs on this album doesn’t draw a complaint from me. Besides those annoying as can be “Pablo Honey” songs, the song selection is generally pretty good. I love how the b-sides “Talk Show Host” and “True Love Waits” were included when I never thought they would be. Also the album has some generally good mix of songs. We have the great teenage angst song in “My Iron Lung”, a reaction to a bad relationship in “No Surprises” and just a completely crazy song in “2+2=5”. There are the general great Radiohead moments we all love: Thom yelling “The head of state is calling me by name/but I don’t have time for him” in “Lucky”, the emotional conclusion to “Karma Police”, the great storytelling done in the song “How To Disappear Completely”, the beginning of “Idioteque” that for some weird reason just wants to make you stand up and dance. Or if that doesn’t intrigue you we have the acoustic ballads of “Fake Plastic Trees” and “High & Dry”. Overall the album has an enjoyable mix of great Radiohead songs that span their career with EMI. Though the album is a little sloppy in organization, I would still recommend it to anyone who is just getting into Radiohead.
Great collection of songs
Doesn’t flow well
Sophistication doesn’t grow as album goes on
Quality varies track by track
Ten to download:
1. Talk Show Host
2. True Love Waits
4. I Might Be Wrong
6. No Surprises
7. My Iron Lung
8. Street Spirit
9. How To Disappear Completely
10. Pyramid Song