I have a love/hate relationship with Radiohead. I think I was originally introduced to them somewhat against my will (and comparatively late) when, in the mid-90s, I went to someone’s BBQ and ‘OK Computer’ was on the stereo, which had been moved outside to cover the yard. The sound was a bit wafty in the windy, summery breeze, which I now think may have accentuated the dubby bass lines and exposed them in a particularly bright light. I remember not really liking it back then. Now, I can’t imagine what I was thinking.
Back then, I was only interested in electronica, industrial and world music, reggae… anything but what I thought of as mainstream rock from England at the time :) (I remember being convinced then that rock was dead. All seems a bit silly now :) Took me quite a number of years more to ‘discover’ Britrock royalty (like Oasis, Blur, Radiohead). Well, I think it’s fair to call Radiohead ‘Britrock’ – maybe up until ‘OK Computer,’ their last ‘standard’ rock band album.
My love/hate relationship is because I can’t help but love the sounds, textures and melodies they offer… the whole laptop/band aesthetic… but I’m often appalled by Thom’s whiny singing (can’t say it any other way). Or, to pinpoint it more precisely, I am appalled by how his whiny delivery and fragile, often slightly off-pitch melodies can affect me emotionally. It’s not them, it’s me ;)
The box set, right this minute, only costs $39 at HMV in Canada, so it’s definitely worth getting. That’s about 5 bucks per CD. Between the music industry’s desperation and Radiohead’s evident, gleeful willingness to experiment with notions of ‘paying for music’ (see below), that’s about the best deal on 7 truly fabulous records you’ll ever get.
While I’m at it, I would be remiss not to recommend their latest record, ‘In Rainbows,’ which is finally available as a regular CD with artwork, a sleeve and all those other traditional CD accoutrements (previously, they sold it at http://www.inrainbows.com and people could ‘make an offer’ – a pay-what-you-want experiment). So I’ve now bought it twice – once to hear it, and again to get the printed sleeve. Since the in-store version only cost $9.99 and I previously offered Radiohead $5 for my download, I still feel that I paid a perfectly reasonable amount overall… Interesting times for buying great music for little money.