'This story-so-far boxset/USB stick containing the band’s six Parlophone albums, plus live mini-album...'
This story-so-far boxset/USB stick containing the band’s six Parlophone albums, plus live mini-album ‘I Might Be Wrong’, is essential. It would be even if it were only available on reel-to-reel tape. Coming as it does only a few weeks before the deluxe boxset version of ‘In Rainbows’, it arrives at a perfect time to show their progression.
1993’s ‘Pablo Honey’ comes from a time when they followed the pace rather than set it and if the lurching sound of its best song – you know the one – moping out of your speakers doesn’t elicit a weary sigh, then you probably think you can never hear ‘Wonderwall’ too many times.
‘The Bends’ is where it get serious. Almost everything on this album – ‘Just’, Street Spirit’, ‘Black Star’ – is great. Easily digestible, sure, but a mere hair’s breadth away from greatness.
That greatness was eventually attained in 1997 with ‘OK Computer’, a record that, even 10 years on, sounds like it’s from the future. Let’s face it, it’s a perfect album. From here, things get weird. ‘Kid A’, cobbled together from three years in the studio, was horrifying on first listen. Out went Thom’s sweeping vocals and Jonny’s six-string acrobatics, in came glitchy vocals and weird, nameless machines that they’d invented. Listen back to ‘Idioteque’ or ‘Morning Bell’ now, though, and you realise that not only is it not that scary, it’s actually pretty ace.
Its sister album ‘Amnesiac’ is intermittently brilliant; the notion that ‘Pyramid Song’ or ‘Like Spinning Plates’ might still be lying dormant on Thom’s laptop more than justifies its existence. Only 2003’s ‘Hail To The Thief’ disappoints, containing only five great songs. Even then, its excursions into glitch-rock and space-funk are fascinating mash-ups, and ‘There There’ is one of their finest moments. All pushing 40 and seven studio albums in, the rest of the world is still playing catch-up with Radiohead.