Review Summary: I'm not sure there's anyone out there aside from the band themselves who could explain why these excellent tracks were thrown onto a rare b-sides compilation and left to rot.
2001 was a big year for Radiohead, what with the release of "Amnesiac," various singles, and a live album. In all of this, "8 Outtakes from Amnesiac" slipped under the radar unnoticed.
It's hard to blame anyone for not paying it much attention, as it consisted entirely of material that could be found as "Pyramid Song" and "Knives Out" b-sides. Ah, but what b-sides they are.
"Cuttooth" opens the compilation with a bang. If you're a hardcore fan, you'll probably know this song, since it's gained some notoriety as an intensely popular track that was never given its due. Despite being an apparent favorite of the band, it was kept off of Amnesiac and as of this writing has never been performed live. The instrumentation is pretty and upbeat; the vocals are longing and mournful; the lyrics are disturbing and dark, while the following track "Worrywort" sounds like old video game music, with a nicely upbeat melody and lyrics. Boards of Canada
's influence can be seen here as well.
"Fog" is an odd, heartrending hybrid of drum-n-bass and soft piano music (an even better version can be found on Radiohead's later b-sides EP, "COM LAG"). It's followed up by the bizarre interlude "Fast Track" and the eerie, ominous "Amazing Sounds of Orgy." The latter is perhaps one of the band's best songs, and certainly one of their best b-sides.
After the glorious spontaneity of the punky "Trans-Atlantic Drawl," "Kinetic" and an extended version of "Life in a Glasshouse" are the final tracks, but the latter seems rather tacked on and doesn't fit with the tone of the EP; it's more of a bonus track. "Kinetic" feels more like a CD closer; it's creepy and disturbing, with a clattering Miles Davis sample for the drum track and backmasked singing forming the main 'hook.' There's even a hidden message, buried in the mix: "Can't you stop the kids from screaming?"
In short, this is an excellent compilation, containing not just some of Radiohead's b-sides, but some of their best songs, period. There was room on "Amnesiac" for the best of these, and it's not clear why the band threw out these engaging tracks and left them to languish in obscurity.
Highlights: "Cuttooth," "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy," "Worrywort"