Choice Cuts: The Best of Radiohead's Acoustic Magic
When Radiohead turns the volume down and goes acoustic, magic ensues.
Rock has never been static.
When it stays in the same place for too long, sticking stubbornly to what it may think is what’s best, it becomes stale, rather than solidly in place.
No band has done more in moving rock forwards over the last quarter century than Radiohead.
Starting with The Bends in 1995, Radiohead moved past the realm of simply being a great rock band and into another musical realm of their own.
With every album, Radiohead was able to completely reinvent themselves and their sound, and do so without the slightest hitch.
Their body of work is simply unparalleled in terms of innovation and ideas. They wrote their own book on what rock music should be, and proceeded to dump it and write a new one every few years.
Although they are well known for their seamless incorporation of electronics into rock, what is lost on many traditionalist detractors of the band is just what an incredible guitar band they are.
All three of the band’s guitarists, Thom Yorke, Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood, are simply extraordinary players, always thinking out of the box and taking the instrument in directions unexplored by any other musician.
In that same vein, when the band turns the volume down and goes acoustic, magic ensues. Radiohead are a band that have always been able to go in any direction with extraordinary success, something that by no means changes when the quintet is unplugged
“Fake Plastic Trees”- The Bends
Hampered by a poor production job, and a lack of musical direction, Radiohead really struggled on their debut album Pablo Honey.
They seemed to be a wanna-be grunge band without the anger, a band trying desperately, and in vein, to fit into a trend that didn’t have any room for them.
But on The Bends, their sophomore effort, their career began in earnest.
The Bends is the band’s first masterpiece, a true-blooded rock album packed to the brim with unbelievable playing, and an impeccable batch of songs from lead singer Thom Yorke.
Although The Bends’ finest moments are its stunning one-two punch of “Planet Telex” and the title track, the acoustic “Fake Plastic Trees” is just as incredible.
A weary, almost dystopian ballad focused on the mundanity of modern life, it is legendary for making a huge percentage of the band’s live audiences burst into tears when the band performs the song live. And not without good reason, Yorke’s delivery and solemn, resigned strumming are absolutely devastating. And this was only the beginning.
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