Why Radiohead Chose To Avoid Double LP’s “Arrogance” For “Kid A”

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Radiohead didn’t have much of a plan after the surprising success of their third album, 1997’s OK Computer. The significant sonic change from earlier guitar-centric and lyrically related records to a more abstract and experimental style had placed the group in entirely new territory by the turn of the 20th century.

Three years after the release of OK Computer, Radiohead got together again to work on the next album, whatever the hell that might pay off. “We’re really bad at making, you know, manifestos of what we’re going to do and what we’re going to change,” guitarist Jonny Greenwood told KCRW in October 2000. “We’re drifting, really.”

The resulting record, after more than a year of studio work, dates from the 2000s. Child A, and it was full of ambient sounds and electronic noises that diverged more from Radiohead’s initial rock-oriented approach.

“There was no feeling of ‘We have to move forward’,” singer Thom Yorke said To select in December 2000, a few months after the album’s release. “It was more like ‘We have no connection with what we did before.’ What we hear in our heads is a lot more like this rambling, fragmented thing – really a landscape. ”

Listen to Radiohead’s “National Anthem”

Disjointed, however, did not mean unproductive. Radiohead loved writing so much that they amassed more songs than a single album would allow. “We still don’t know how we’re going to put them out or in what order we’re going to put them, or how long the record is going to last,” Greenwood said at the time. “But we certainly had too many for one record.”

For bassist Colin Greenwood, “the big fear is that it’s easy to go and record, but it’s very hard to envision what’s going to come out and end up in the CD case in a record store – and that’s so really the problem, ”he said. KCRW. “It’s okay to go out and eat good food every day, make music, work on computers and play guitar … but it’s a big deal to think about editing. , compilation and presentation. “

The natural solution with excess material was to make a double album, but this idea was quickly rejected by the band. “There is arrogance in them,” Jonny Greenwood told KCRW. “Bands get to a point where they think their music is worth, you know, three hours of your time, and it’s not really.”

This put Radiohead in the awkward position of deciding which songs to keep and which to put aside, an effort, according to Yorke, required inspiration from another band who knew a thing or two to make big jumps for short. periods: the Beatles.

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“Even though these are great songs, and I’m really proud of them, they just don’t match,” Yorke said of the songs that didn’t make it. Child A. “Which is kind of weird, because you think an album should be basically the best songs. It’s not necessarily true. You can put all the best songs in the world on a record, and they’ll ruin each other.

“On the last Beatles albums, when they got really, really good at putting things next to each other, like on the white album, it’s just amazing. How the hell can you have three different versions of ‘Revolution’ on the same disc [sic] and get by? I thought about that sort of thing.

This still left the sequencing of Child A treat. It started easily with the opening track, “Everything in Its Right Place”, arranged sparingly, but quickly turned out to be a challenge for everyone that everyone agreed on. For one thing, even though the songwriting credit was split evenly among the five members, it was often Yorke who came to the table with a song started.

“We kind of always wrote our own parts, there was a creative outlet for that,” guitarist Ed O’Brien said. The face in 2020. “But that’s how Radiohead was set up. I don’t compare us to the Beatles, but John Lennon said it beautifully when someone asked about George Harrison’s songs:” L empire was shared between me and Paul [McCartney]. ‘ That’s the way some groups work, and that’s the dynamic. “

Listen to Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place”

With so many songs, there were bound to be differences in order, a time Yorke called a “nightmare.” O’Brien agreed, saying The face: “I think [doing] the track list of Child A was really loaded. I felt like it could go both ways. It could break – like it would break, and that would be it. But we got there the next day and it was settled. “

Spontaneity drove the album’s mess and ultimately elevated it. Radiohead’s lack of attachment to specific instrumental roles, along with their obvious willingness to incorporate non-traditional rock arrangements, left the group wide open for what they saw best. “We had one of those horrible whiteboards that you have in the office,” Yorke said. To select. “At one point, we were working on 50 different things, which made other people crazy – but it made me really happy. Depending on how I felt when I was walking one morning, I had a choice of 50 different things, and that ‘is awesome! … Swimming totally in the tide, you don’t know what’s going to happen. “

For Radiohead, revisiting the past would clearly not benefit the future, and their decision to split the album in half was apparently the most artistically responsible approach. Most of the songs left out Child A appeared on their next album, 2001’s Amnesiac.

“They’re separated because they can’t run in a straight line with each other, they cancel each other out as globally finite things,” Yorke told the Chicago Tribune in 2001. “In a strange way, I think Amnesiac give another vision Child A, a form of explanation. “

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