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Radiohead: Amnesiac (3-disc box)

June 24, 2010

Today’s roll: 3 – 3 – 6 / Result: Amnesiac (3 disc box) by Radiohead.

When I started this project I assumed, apparently wrongly, the dice would serve me up a random selection of vaguely obscure titles and not veritable classic after classic. It’s not that my collection is an esoteric wonderland of arcane crate-digging delights, it’s pretty standard, but it’s not all pop stars like Morrissey and Radiohead. And what does one write about Amnesiac that hasn’t been said? And who even cares at this point if something hasn’t been said about it?

Luckily this is the 3-disc expanded boxed edition of Radiohead’s 2001 masterpiece of urban alienation, so there is a question to answer. Is it worth upgrading to if you already own a copy?

That all depends. If you own all the various Knives out and Pyramid Song EPs, then there is only a handful of tracks, recorded live at Canal+ Studios, on the second CD which haven’t been issued before.

The best of which is a stripped-down and beefed-up rendition of “Pakt Like Sardines…” which shines a whole new light on the song. Gone are the drum-machines, synths and gamelan-like percussion riff, replaced with distorted bass guitar and Phil Selway’s always impressive drumming. It’s not a revelation or an improvement per se, but it offers what you want you want from a live version of a pretty heavily produced studio track—a new angle. The similarly intriguing re-envisioning of “Like Spinning Plates” as a piano ballad, though, was previously available on I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings.

Still, it’s great to have all the B-sides on one disc as they make a collection of songs with almost equal impact to Amnesiac and Kid A. It actually acts as a decent would-be third album in a trilogy with some standout tracks ( “Fog”, “Worrywort” and “Cuttooth”).

The DVD contains the four promotional videos from Amnesiac, already included in their Best Of compilation DVD plus their Top of the Pops and Jools Holland appearances. Both are decent performances but the Jools Holland session being slightly more entertaining with Thom Yorke‘s manic, slow-eyed tambourine playing and Humphrey Lyttelton‘s band joining them for “Life in a Glass House.”

It’s a decent—not spectacular—set of extras on their own, but what makes this edition a treat for fans and collectors is the packaging. It’s boxed in a cloth-bound box simulating the original rare “Library Book” limited edition of the album. Included inside is also a reproduction of the bookplate with library card and the “hidden” booklet which came with early copies of the jewel case edition. Material trifles, perhaps, but the kind of thing that makes trading-up to an expanded collectors edition worth the investment.

If you’re into that kind of thing, that is.

Originally posted at Simply Read November 17th, 2009

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