PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


How Can You Make Radiohead Boring? Just Watch 'Radiohead Arms and Legs: The Story So Far'

This is a documentary made up of people who have about as much connection to the band as I do.


Radiohead Arms and Legs: The Story So Far

Label: Pride DVD
US Release Date: 2011-06-21
UK Release Date: 2011-05-16

Radiohead is a great band, but there's little evidence of that to be found in this lethargic, infuriating two-disc cash-in. Arms and Legs: The Story so Far has no connection with the band itself and is in no way authorized by anyone associated with the group. So what is its purpose, exactly? Good question.

Viewers hoping for interviews with Thom Yorke or others in the band will be disappointed. Neither is there any original concert footage, or any footage at all besides scraps of live performances available elsewhere; even these are limited to snippets of 10 or 15 seconds, presumably due to copyright/fair use laws. In other words, this is a documentary made up of people who have about as much connection to the band as I do. If this sounds interetsing to you, dive right in!

The two-disc set is divided into "A Classic Album Under Review", a feature that purports to examine OK Computer track-by-track in the context of the times it was recorded and released, and "Homework", a more general overview of the band. The second disc is marginally more interesting, because of the contributions of a few people who at least knew the band back when they were schoolkids at Oxford. The main feature, "A Classic Album Under Review", is eye-wateringly dull and a complete waste of time. Let's start there, shall we?

Your ability to stomach "A Classic Album Under Review" will depend directly on your ability to endure middle-aged white guy talking heads spewing meaningless and not especially eloquent balderdash about OK Computer. If this is your cup of tea, you will love such moments as:

Middle-aged white guy talking head #1: "At the time it seemed like something radically different, but now stands as like, you know, one of the most, kind of, you know valid and lasting musical monuments of that era."

Middle-aged white guy talking head #2: "The heavy heavy riff [of "Paranoid Android"] that Johnny comes in on, which is kind of in, in line with the "Creep" riff where he's trying, almost trying to destroy the song because he doesn't like it, ah… trying to make it a little less soppy." (You read that right: it's not a complete sentence.)

Middle-aged white guy talking head #3: "["Subterranean Homesick Alien"] has that kind of orchestral presence, and I think it's, it's very heart-rending, and I'm sure that's to do with the way the, the chords are structured, et cetera."

These nuggets--chosen at random--all appear within the first 22 minutes, and the doc as a whole stretches for nearly an hour, so there's plenty more where this came from. I've said it before but it bears repeating: none of these people has any connection to Radiohead. It's as if you and your friends made an hour-long documentary about, I don't know—the summer you spent listening to Oasis. Or Otis Redding, or Lady Gaga, or Beethoven. These guys are perfectly friendly, but they're just yammering on about the band, and we're stuck in the unenviable position of listening to them.

The second disc, as mentioned, is slightly more engaging, due to the contributions of such figures as Radiohead biographer Tim Footman, who is entertainingly prissy, and local music figure Ronan Monroe, who interviewed the band in its early days. Dave Newton, who worked as manager of Oxford band Ride and later knew Radiohead, makes an appearance, as does Mark Gardener from Ride, lending at least a little credibility to the film. Later, Radiohead's response to 9/11 and its implicit criticism of George W. Bush on Hail to the Thief also get a mention.

Nevertheless, the doc remains low-budget, static, and a long ways from being enjoyable due to the complete absence of the band being discussed—the same handful of still photos are used over and over, so much so that any number of drinking games could be invented: "Take a shot every time they show Thom in sunglasses!" (This would also have the unintended effect of rendering this DVD far more entertaining than it would be otherwise.) It does have the advantage of being a few minutes shorter than the other feature, so there's that.

After we shut it off, my wife, who is a big Radiohead fan, put it this way: "You know you've just watched a crap documentary about a band when you turn it off and the last thing you want to do is go listen to that band."

Well, yeah. Radiohead deserves better. Avoid this cash-in at all costs.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.