Radiohead have, especially in the more Thom Yorke-primary pieces, shown a proclivity for deconstruction. “Like Spinning Plates” is, on record, an amalgam of reversed vocal recording spliced in with recordings of Yorke’s singing backwards, in live performance, an ingenious piano/vocal piece (for which I get credit for unwarranted originality only by being super-fan familiar with the released live version on the EP, I Might Be Wrong).
More recently, one got a bigger dose of this live/studio disconnect when Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser was released. To my ears, the album sounded like someone too enamoured of his laptop, while the live versions of the Eraser songs sounded like a songwriter at his creative peak.
I had a similar adverse reaction to Radiohead’s latest release, The King of Limbs, even to the point of doubting the intrinsic worth, as songs, of so many of the Limbs works. So obscured and alienating did I find the production environments for each song, only to be happily thwarted by the extraordinary verve, mastery and sheer great song-writing in the subsequent live performances of Limbs material, on SNL, Colbert Report, and here on the BBC, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich-curated series, From the Basement.
The Basement performance of “Give Up the Ghost” inspired my own piano take on the piece, downloadable here.
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