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Radiohead “In Rainbows” Box-Set January 26, 2008

Posted by Richard Foote in Music, Radiohead.

Radiohead “In Rainbows” Box-set

“In Rainbows” is the latest offering by one of my favourite bands, Radiohead. For Christmas, I was lucky enough to get the “In Rainbows” Box-set, which is a real treat for any Radiohead fan.  

The box-set is wonderfully packaged. In a LP sized slip case, the hard outside-case has black and white artwork at odds to the bright “rainbow” colours of the album proper.

Inside, is a LP sized, foldout case that holds the 2 vinyl 12″ 45 RPM records that feature the 10 songs in the album proper, one stored in each side of the foldout sleave.

In the inside left-hand side of the foldout sits a removable LP sized 16 page booklet, featuring different colourful digital images and artwork by of course Stanley Donwood, in a similar style to the album cover proper.

In the right-hand side, taking up half the space is another non-removable booklet that features the album lyrics and credits. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the lyrics to the bonus disc. The other half is taken up by the 2 CDs of the album, the 10 song album proper and an 8 song bonus disc, which of course is the real feature of the box-set, consisting of:

MK1 is a one minute piece based on the middle section of Videotape that ends the album proper. It has a very quiet, eerie sort of feel to it that nicely links the main “In Rainbows” album to the bonus disc.

It suddenly jumps into “Down Is The New Up” which is such a perfect title for a Radiohead song. It has a somewhat mellow piano based sound in keeping with the general “In Rainbows” feel, with a catchy little backbeat. However, the atmospherics in the background suggest not all is well. About being given the flick, “Your services are not required. Your future’s bleak. You’re so last week.”, the message is being dampened (unsuccessfully) by the fact that hey “down is the new up”. How putting spin and modern catch phrases on bad news doesn’t change the fact it’s bad news nonetheless. Perhaps a better alternative to that suggested in “No surprises” however. 

The next song “Go slowly” is an acoustic guitar based number, which indeed has a slow, melodically soothing rhythm. It’s the least “wordy” of the songs, a simple sort of love song that pleads given time and patients, things will work out if we just go slowly. It’s has a wonderful, optimistic feel with typically beautiful Radiohead arrangements. Thom in his choirboy sounding best. 

The next piece MK2 is another 1 minute “filler” (if there’s such a thing with Radiohead), a weird electronic piece that reminds me of the last scene in some old fashioned, science fiction movie. Perhaps the Tardis referred to in “Up On The Ladder” ?

The next song “Last Flowers To The Hospital” is my favourite in this collection. A quiet, piano and acoustic guitar based arrangement that dates all the way back to “OK Computer” where it would have fitted in perfectly (“Appliances have gone berserk”), it’s vintage Radiohead. It just sounds so beautiful with Thom’s vocals perfectly matching the “mood” evoked by the music. The title comes from a sign outside a hospital in Oxford, it’s basically about someone who can no longer cope and just needs someone to listen to them. Radiohead are one of the few bands that have a song of this quality sitting on an extras CD.

Next comes “Up On The Ladder”, which has a guitar riff and a throbbing beat that just gets stuck in your head. Dropped from the “Hail To The Thief” and dating as far back as “Kid A”, its basic theme is alienation both literally and figuratively. Sounds great live.

As does the next song “Bangers & Mash”, the most energetic piece in the collection. About corruption and the poison of power and position, it’s has a typically biting edge, especially with Thom’s sarcastic vocal delivery, it serves as a warning of what can happen when people turn on you. You can easily dance to this, especially if you’ve just ripped somebody off !!

The last song “4 Minute Warning” reminds me of the end to Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” both in its mood and theme. It’s bleak, dark and about someone desperately wishing what’s about to happen to them was only a dream. But it’s not a dream and in 4 minutes something really bad is going to happen and trying to ignore it and wish things were different isn’t going to change things. Perhaps down is the new down after all. A quiet, sombre ending, which of course lasts exactly 4 minutes. 

Overall, the bonus disc is a great collection of songs, most of which could easily have made the album proper.

You can’t buy this in shops although it’s still available from here. Highly recommended !!