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Radiohead - My Iron Lung CD (album) cover

MY IRON LUNG

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.33 | 44 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars While Radiohead's full album count is fairly modest, the band also has gobs of EPs and singles floating around, with a good chunk material that can only be found in those formats. Ideally, the band would put together a separate comprehensive compilation of its various non-album tracks (there are special editions of the full albums that cover some of the ground, though nowhere close to all), but as is, a lot of material has to be chased down in forms like this.

While a lot of the band's non-album material is scattered to the four winds, such that I was able to become acquainted with it only through hookup, this particular slab was one that I actually found at Amoeba Music somewhere along the line, and it's long enough (28 minutes, just a couple of minutes shorter than an early Byrds album) that it deserves its own review. It only contains 8 songs, one of which is a live version of "My Iron Lung" (which, strangely, I find much more enjoyable than the studio version; there's a clear punch to the sound that's not in the Bends version) and another of which is an acoustic "Creep" (which is fine, but it feels a bit like a novelty), but it's interesting in that it sounds a bit like a missing link between Pablo Honey and The Bends. I mean, it's not halfway between them (more like 80% of the way), but it's kinda neat to hear material that could have easily made The Bends stronger while boasting some of the lightness that helped Pablo Honey a bit (the lack of which also hurt The Bends in sports).

The first half of this EP is really, really good. After the opening title track comes "The Trickster," an almost metallic (in spots) number that's anthemic without being overbearing, and which I have to consider one of the best early Radiohead songs. I mean, it's not like it's as walloping as the best parts of "Planet Telex," but if I could choose between this as that album's second track and "The Bends," I'd definitely pick this one. "Lewis (Mistreated)" definitely sounds more like Pablo Honey than The Bends, and I couldn't care less about the lyrics, but there's something rather charming about the pop-punk leanings of the track, whereas much of the similar work on PH just made me shrug my shoulders. And "Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong" almost sounds like the forefather of "Subterranean Homesick Alien" in spots: it's a trip to hear the band predicting OK Computer this early on.

The second half is where it becomes clear that this is just an EP and not something like a lost Radiohead masterpiece, but as a loose collection of lesser material it's pretty decent. "Permanent Daylight" has interesting back-and-forth between mournful and upbeat guitar lines, and I have to admit that the lyrics are somewhat noteworthy (and I say this who cares little about Radiohead lyrics). "Lozenge of Love" is a silly (as far as Radiohead goes) acoustic number, "You Never Wash Up After Yourself" sounds like a downbeat Bends number, and then it ends with the acoustic "Creep." Nothing special on the whole (though "Permanent Daylight" definitely comes close in spots) but kinda nice nonetheless.

Anyway, this isn't an especially difficult EP to find, and one can also get ahold of the "new" tracks by getting the expanded version of The Bends, so it's probably worth getting these tracks if you're a Radiohead fan. It's not a major addition to their catalogue, but it's definitely more enjoyable than not.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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