Thursday, November 29, 2007

Radiohead Free Europe

There’s nothing like returning from a gravylicious Thanksgiving break at the in-laws and finding yet another reason to give thanks. In this case, a November 9 webcast Radiohead did in their studio to launch their site, brought to my attention via the fine music site That Truncheon Thing.

The show was called the "Thumbs Down" Webcast. A delicious use of irony given that it’s one of the coolest gifts the band has ever given its fans.

We see the band in a Fab-Fourish, freewheeling, fun-loving mode, spinning records, and playing live-in-the-studio verisions of "Bodysnatchers" and other tracks from their new album In Rainbows.

Radiohead, "Reckoner" (Thumbs Down Webcast)

As befit the band's genial mood, they also played some sweet covers: the early New Order single "Ceremony" and most brilliantly, The Smiths’s “The Headmaster Ritual,” which Thom Yorke says “is about when we were younger, but we didn’t write it.” (The lads met in an Essex boarding school, presumably run by belligerent fools.)

Radiohead, "The Headmaster Ritual" (Smiths cover) (Thumbs Down Webcast)

After a few tunes in their studio, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood dash outside at dusk for an English countryside run-through of “Faust Arp” The song, which was Beatlesque to begin with, becomes even more so against a backdrop very reminiscent of the Fabs’ video for “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Radiohead, "Faust Arp" (Thumbs Down Webcast)

Like U2 in their Achtung Baby period, Radiohead seem hell-bent on taking town the walls of mystique they spent so many years building, intentionally or not. Announcing In Rainbows only days in advance of its release and making payment optional was a good start. And this fly-on-the-wall gift to their fans is even better.

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