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Radiohead - Airbag/How Am I Driving? CD (album) cover

AIRBAG/HOW AM I DRIVING?

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.82 | 51 ratings

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TCat
4 stars This was an EP put out by Radiohead specifically for the North American market to bridge the gap between the albums "OK Computer" and the more experimental and electronic "Kid A". It consists of "Airbag" which is from the album "OK Computer", and this version is the exact same except that it has the original ending, where the album version flowed into the next track. It is a harder song and very good, with some prog elements in the final few minutes going on while the main opening theme plays again.

The rest of the tracks are most of the B-sides that were recorded at the same time as OK Computer, but were originally left off the album. "Pearly" is another hard song, but the vocals are more reminiscent of what was to come on the next album. It quiets down half way through with Thom's falsetto vocals, then builds again. "Meeting in the Aisle" is Radiohead's first instrumental. It consists of a repeating echoing guitar and is later joined by orchestrated sounds. Very mysterious sounding yet nice. You hear early experimental sounds from Radiohead here, but no vocals. "A Reminder" is very experimental, starting off with an automated announcement recorded from the Metro station at Prague. A slow rhythm is established with shimmering guitars and Thom's vocals start. There is a slow build, but it remains mostly mellow until the last minute where guitars start to whine and groan and then eventually drop off just before the end. "Polyethylene Pts. 1 & 2" starts off with an acoustic guitar and Thom singing. This goes on for a short time before it abruptly ends seeming like a false start almost, then goes into the full band which carries it through the rest of the song. This one is an excellent track and would have fit on perfectly to the main album. This is also a fan favorite but is more rock oriented than it is experimental. "Melatonin" is a beautiful song driven by lush synths and Thom's voice. It sounds simple but is a very challenging song to sing because of it's jumps in range. Percussion starts on the second verse, but it is quite subdued. Last of all is "Palo Alto" which in it's early stages, was to be the title track from "OK Computer". It starts out mellow, but becomes more intense after the first verse with an instrumental break, and continues with that pattern. The bridge after the 2nd verse remains intense and continues through the next instrumental break, then quiets again for the third verse, but feedback is added this time. It finishes intense with the last chorus and ends with sustained feedback. This is another track that would have fit well on the main album.

This EP was nominated for a Grammy, and competed against full length albums. It also fulfills it's purpose quite well as a bridge between two different kinds of albums in that all of the tracks would have fit quite well on either "Ok Computer" or "Kid A". These songs are all good as stand alone songs too, and that is why this EP works so well. The only issue here is this, is it worth searching for? You might be better off getting the Collector's Edition of "OK Computer" which is subtitled "OKNOTOK". This one has an extra disc (I'm talking about the vinyl version now, which is amazing} that has all of these tracks plus 3 others previously not available; "I Promise", "Man of War", and "Lift", plus two other B-sides not on the EP; "Lull" and "How I Made My Millions". So, if you see the EP in the discount bin,, definitely pick it up, but it has pretty much been made obsolete by the Collector's Edition of "Ok Computer". Still, it is a great collection of songs that would satisfy any fan and/or casual listener and still merits a 4 star rating.

TCat | 4/5 |

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