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Radiohead Airbag/How Am I Driving? album cover
3.82 | 59 ratings | 9 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Airbag (4:46)
2. Pearly (3:33)
3. Meeting in the Aisle (3:09)
4. A Reminder (3:51)
5. Polyethylene (Parts One and Two) (4:22)
6. Melatonin (2:09)
7. Palo Alto (3:43)

Total Time: 25:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Thom Yorke / vocals and guitar
- Colin Greenwood / bass
- Jonny Greenwood / guitars and keyboards
- Ed O'Brien / guitar and vocals
- Phil Selway / drums

Releases information

Capitol CD (1998)

Thanks to frenchie for the addition
and to progshine for the last updates
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RADIOHEAD Airbag/How Am I Driving? ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

RADIOHEAD Airbag/How Am I Driving? reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by frenchie
4 stars This EP is very good. A Nice follow on to OK Computer, serving as a nice epilogue of B- Sides. "Palo Alto" and "Pearly" are standout pieces on this EP. None of the tracks quite match up to the songwriting skills on OK Computer but they are still excellent tracks. The best offering here is Polyethylene, one of my favourite Radiohead pieces. Part one is short acoustic intro that explodes into a much more distorted guitar based tune which is part two. This EP is definetly worth tracking down if you love Radiohead. I am rating this album 4 stars because it is an excellent EP to have, yet i would never consider it essential. The only EP that really is essential is probably "Tremulant" by The Mars Volta, if you loved Deloused in the Comatorium that is. Anyway, "Airbag/How Am I Driving" is one of the better Radiohead EP's out there, though i would say "I Might Be Wrong" is the best.
Review by FloydWright
4 stars I had the luck to pick this up at a used CD store very inexpensively and at risk of sounding cliched, it was a steal! Although I could not give it 5 stars because there is a sense of some promising ideas not quite developed as far as they could be (and as with many RADIOHEAD works, I wish it had come with lyrics because I can barely understand what's being said even though English is my native language!), I must say, what is there--is extremely beautiful, and I honestly consider this almost up there with the two albums it resembles the most. Stylistically, the album seems somewhere in between The Bends and OK Computer, although not quite "classifiable" as either.

"Meeting in the Aisle" is unlike anything I have ever heard from RADIOHEAD, and is to my mind the best track on the album. It has an electronic, almost world-beat kind of sound, and I admire the unusual scale and pitch bending used here, which gives it hints of Asia or the Middle East. This appealed very much to me as a fan of artists such as PINK FLOYD, RICK WRIGHT, and PETER GABRIEL, who seem to delight in intricately layered, synth and effect-heavy, unusual pieces. The other thing I appreciate...although one might tend to automatically think of it as dark, like almost all other RADIOHEAD pieces, this one has in my opinion room for interpretation by the listener. Most of the time I enjoy THOM YORKE's singing, but this was definitely one time where he was most effective by not singing--this song does not have to be melancholy. It can be if you want, but it can also be adventurous, exciting, mysterious, and even uplifting if you are not too put-off by the unusual scales. This is an overlooked gem!

"Airbag", of course, is an excellent track, which featured on OK Computer, where I think it was one of the standout tracks along with "Subterranean Homesick Alien", "Let Down", and "Climbing up the Walls". "Pearly": Some very interesting guitar tones from JONNY GREENWOOD here, and an entrancing rhythm that seems typical of the Bends/OK Computer era. Was not one of the major standouts, though.

"A Reminder": This track had an almost PINK FLOYD-like connotation; the ambient sound effects were reminiscent of many PF works, and the keyboard work sounds quite similar to RICK WRIGHT's ethereal Farfisa work typical of earlier albums such as More and Ummagumma. This immediately drew me in, and I very much enjoyed it.

"Polyethylene": Promising, but it had a raw, unfinished sound. I am wondering, though-- was this deliberate? It sounds remarkably like something from SYD BARRETT's The Madcap Laughs, where due to BARRETT's problems at the time, there were a lot of interruptions, abrupt changes in the music, and overheard comments from the studio. I especially like what this track turns into in Part 2, particularly the synth and the crisp percussion work.

"Melatonin": Beautiful, lyrical synth-string work here, very melancholy (perhaps the word the song's title is intended to evoke?). It has an almost yearning sound to it reminiscent of the end of "Street Spirit" ("Immerse your soul in love..."). I admit I cannot understand the lyrics, so I'm going on the tone of the music and voice alone. It actually becomes very uplifting. I like the way the bass and percussion are understated here--very effective with that synth work. This is one of the songs, though, that I wish were extended into a fuller piece, so it does indeed leave a sense of yearning, wanting something more that doesn't quite come. "Palo Alto": An enjoyable, rocking tune, but as with "Pearly", not a total standout from the rest of their work of that era.

All in all, a quality effort that I consider myself very lucky to have found, but its major flaw is that it leaves the listener wanting...where is the rest? It would certainly be nice to see some of these ideas extended, espeically "Meeting in the Aisle", "Melatonin", "A Reminder", and "Polyethylene".

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is another Radiohead`s EP, in this case, this EP is from Ok Computer Era, in some of the songs we can listen to that unique OK`s sound, also, the cover of the album is reminiscent to that album. Of course i cant say this is a prog EP, and EP of a prog band, all of us know that Radiohead is not a "convincent" progressive band, maybe Art Rock, i dont know, lets talk about this EP. The first song is Airbag, a well known song, the first song of OK Computer, a great song, with good guitars and great sound effects, a weir lyric i think, all the songs here are B- Sides but Airbag, then Pearly, i think it is the most special song of this EP, is great, good vocals, piano work is also good, the next song, is Meeting in the Aisle, if you havent heard any instrumental song, here you can find one, Radiohead is notknown for doing instumental pieces, there are a few , this is a good one, but it is not the best, only a good song for the album, the next song is A Reminder, this song is something like The Bends Ok Computer mix of styles, is slow, good, but not the best of the EP, then i have to do a special mention to Polyethylene , i think it is a beautiful song, if you are looking for progressive music, maybe this is not a good example, but you can give a chance to this song, its lenght is over 4 minutes, but here we can find Mellotron!, the song is a two part song, first part is only with voice and some soft sounds, the second is with all the instruments, good good song, Melatonin is another melhancolic, sad, soft song, it starts with the sound of keyboards, and then the beautiful Thom`s voice, then drums make their appereance, its a nice song, good atmosphere sound i think, and the last song is Palo Alto is another good song, one of the most well known B-Sides, it is not my favorite song, is good, but i have nothing more to say about it. Well, i really enjoy this EP, in fact now im listening to it, 25 minutes of good Radiohead work, i`d like to give it 4 stars, because it deserves at least 4 stars, but im going to give it only 3 because we`re talking about progressive rock, and this isnt a prog EP, of course it has prog passages, but only a few. A good suggestion for every Radiohead fan, and i will suggest it to all of you, give it a chance.
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Airbag/How Am I Driving is an EP Radiohead released after releasing their groundbreaking album OK Computer. Having become big stars and selling millions of albums probably got the record company to push Radiohead into releasing something new in a hurry. In this case it was a good idea and this is not the kind of product were you sit thinking that it was done with the left hand. This is actually a very good EP. At times even better and more experimental than OK Computer.

The music is still rooted in nineties british rock with the normal rock instrumentation guitar, bass, drums and vocals as the dominant features. On OK Computer all sorts of odd and pleasant noises and keyboard notes foated around and itīs the same with Airbag/ How Am I Driving. These songs could be outtakes from the OK Computer sessions and if they are they are really strong outtakes. The only song which also appear on OK Computer is Airbag. The rest of the songs have not been released before which means you get six completely new Radiohead songs in the same quality as the songs on OK Computer.

The musicianship is good as you will know if you own OK Computer.

The production is similar pleasant and warm as it is on OK Computer.

If youīre a fan of OK Computer this EP has to be in your collection. I would like to see future issues of OK Computer including this EP as it would make the album even more complete. Iīll have to go with a 4 star rating because the songs are really of high quality.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I picked this up years ago in a record shop and it turned out to be a wise move. I've never been a huge RADIOHEAD fan but I still play "The Bends" , "OK Computer" and "Kid A" once in a while because they are all great albums. This particular EP was released after "OK Computer" in the USA and features B-sides from that album except for the opening track which was on that studio album. It's incredible to think how influencial this band has been even in the Post- Rock genre.

"Airbag" opens with some down and dirty guitar but later we get some Post-Rock styled guitar. A relentless beat as vocals cry out over top. Catchy stuff. It turns experimental after 3 1/2 minutes. Mellotron in this one too. "Pearly" features some raw sounding guitar as vocals drums and bass join in. Good tune. "Meeting In The Aisle" builds as a beat joins in. A cool sounding instrumental.

"A Reminder" opens with sampled voices before laid back music takes over. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. "Polyethylene (Parts One And Two) opens with reserved vocals and acoustic guitar. It kicks in at a minute. Nice. Mellotron in this one as well. "Melatonin" sounds like it has strings or mellotron in it as vocals and random drum patterns join in. "Palo Alto" opens with experimental sounds then kicks in but settles again quickly. It ends like it began.

If your a RADIOHEAD fan don't even hesitate this is a worthy addition to your collection.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Latest members reviews

4 stars As a lover of b-sides and rarities, this is my kind of record... It has those songs that couldn't be fitted on the album, or to independent for that album (a masterpiece to be said: OK COMPUTER), so, it shows a very dark and somber, sometimes ambient direction that in time was tamed by the band ... (read more)

Report this review (#142163) | Posted by arqwave | Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a very strong EP from Radiohead. This collection of songs proves how Radiohead were writing a lot of strong material at the time of Ok Computer. But don't listen to this expecting Ok Computer 2. On many of the songs on this EP, the band were trying a lot of new things, and increasing t ... (read more)

Report this review (#84773) | Posted by Harry Hood | Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Itīs always difficult to rate EPS because of its special status. We find here very good material but it isnīt essential. Airbag isnīt the best song in Ok computer but it is a good intro to any record 7,5/10 Pearly is a catchy song that still makes its best live (9/10) Meeting in the ais ... (read more)

Report this review (#62728) | Posted by tailsme | Sunday, January 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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