After the tremendous success of In Rainbows, Radiohead fans expected an explosive follow-up record. Instead they received 37 minutes — the band's shortest yet — of synthesized loops, rhythmic layers, and restrained vocals. For that and other reasons, The King of Limbs is often found near the bottom of fans' "Best Of" lists. But Deepcuts creator Oliver Kemp argues that the album is beautiful and inventive in its own right, and that The King of Limbs: Live from the Basement brings this innovation to the forefront.
This broadcast was released about ten months after The King of Limbs and includes performances of all eight tracks from the record — as well as a few singles. Modeled after their previous live video album for In Rainbows, the sessions were produced by Nigel Godrich and televised internationally. Clive Deamer of Portishead joined Phil Selway to execute the album's complicated polyrhythms, while a horn section was added to fill out the sound of songs like "Bloom" and "Codex." Together, they breathed new life into these oft-maligned songs.
[00:00:00] Savannah Wright: [00:00:00] This is Fake Plastic Podcast, a podcast that unlocks the alchemy of Radiohead — one song music, video, or live performance at a time. My name is Savannah Wright. Remember this part of our last episode with Christopher Riley?
[00:00:14] Okay. So do you think you would want to do any King of Limbs tracks or do you think they're just, they're not.
[00:00:18] Christopher O'Riley: [00:00:18] No, I'm not a big fan of that record.
[00:00:21] Savannah Wright: [00:00:21] Your reaction to this moment says a lot about you as a Radiohead fan. Fans in one camp may have thought, yeah, The King of Limbs wasn't their best. I can understand why [00:00:30] he wouldn't cover those songs. But fans in another camp may have responded, 'what? The King of Limbs is great. People need to stop hating on that record."
[00:00:39] And then there are the newcomers listening to this podcast who probably thought, 'what's the King of Limbs? Sounds like a horror movie." Side note: that's exactly what my husband said when I mentioned this record to him. And then there are the peacemakers who bring up one piece of evidence most fans can agree on — The King of Limbs: Live from the Basement.
[00:01:00] [00:01:00] Oliver Kemp: [00:01:00] I mean, I could probably talk forever about every single track on this, on this session. I think it's just it's so it's so well developed. Um, I think all the different percussive sounds that Clive and Phil end up using just create something entirely different in the, in the sections. I think the way that Colin, I mean, Colin's an incredible bassist, but some of the low end on these tracks is, is almost disorienting.
[00:01:23] Savannah Wright: [00:01:23] Meet Oliver Kemp, one such peacemaker.
[00:01:27] Oliver Kemp: [00:01:27] On, um, I'd, I'd forgotten. So I listened to this [00:01:30] all again recently because I hadn't listened to it a little while, but I'd forgotten how low the low end is on "Separator." It actually, it was making my speakers vibrate when I listened to it. Yeah. I think it's just a lovely version again, cause you have that dry clean sound and the drum beat that made In Rainbows is such a warm album, but then you have this real intense low-end and there's. It waits such a long time. It pulls back before the guitar comes in and sort of relieves it and gives it a bit more melody.
[00:01:56]Savannah Wright: [00:01:56] Oliver ran a channel on YouTube called Deep Cuts that offers thorough [00:02:00] guides to various artists and genres. If you couldn't tell, he's extremely articulate about music. And he's an ardent Radiohead fan.
[00:02:08] Oliver Kemp: [00:02:08] So I think the first time I ever heard Radiohead, uh, was my mother was, had a copy of The Bends. Um, let's see, that record came out quite a long time ago. So I was about, I was two years old when The Bends came out. And, uh, immediately attracted to that kind of aggressive rock sound. That was, that was so much their sound when they were in the early days.
[00:02:29] Uh, and then I [00:02:30] kind of stopped listening to them for quite a long time. And then it was around about the time that In Rainbows came out, that all of a sudden everything, I really started getting much more interested in it.
[00:02:39] So I was playing music myself. I was playing the drums quite a lot. Um, and I remember first hearing "15 Step" and being completely blown away and how that, how that whole record sounded, that first track sounded. It was so warm. It was so inviting. And from there on my, my Radiohead obsession really kicked into gear and I just haven't been able to stop [00:03:00] listening to them and obsessing about them ever since.
[00:03:02] Savannah Wright: [00:03:02] In this episode, we'll discuss the live video album The King of Limbs: Live from the Basement and how its performances may help dubious fans better appreciate an underrated album.
[00:03:14] To understand why fans found The King of Limbs underwhelming, we must first examine the popular response to Radiohead's previous record, In Rainbows.
[00:03:23] Oliver Kemp: [00:03:23] It's interesting. I just spoke about In Rainbows, cause I think that's maybe where the point of contention came with The King of Limbs when [00:03:30] it finally arrived. I mean, In Rainbows, it was such a big success, critically commercially. Oh, well, commercially, I suppose, the 'pay what you want' model didn't quite work for them. But I mean, you know, fans absolutely loved it. Everybody considered it a late master work in their career in so many ways.
[00:03:44] So then The King of Limbs comes along. It gets dropped. I mean, we get sort of four days notice for it to be dropped. I think it was on Valentine's Day. They announced it. And then we got, the day before it was supposed to released, everyone that pre-ordered it got a copy of it early.
[00:03:57] And it was just this really quite strange [00:04:00] record all based on sampling and looping. Uh, much less warm, much colder than the previous record. Uh, almost entirely different to anything they'd ever done before. I mean, it, it felt sort of mechanical. There's only eight tracks. And I think that meant that a lot of fans who had been waiting for years for a follow-up to, um, In Rainbows felt a little bit short changed, I suppose.
[00:04:20] And I remember we were all obsessing over the fact that 'oh there must be a King of Limbs part two coming,' because for so many silly little reasons, I remember that it was the, the final, um, the final [00:04:30] lyrics on "Separator": 'if you think this is over, then you're wrong.' When everyone was going, 'yeah, that, that means that there's a King of Limbs part two!' Uh, no one could hack the fact that this was the record. And this is what we'd be getting. Um,
[00:04:43] Savannah Wright: [00:04:43] Did you have a similar...? Oh, sorry, go ahead.
[00:04:45] Oliver Kemp: [00:04:45] No, yeah, no, I, yeah, so I did have a similar response to that initially, but I mean, I'm probably one of those people who would die on a hill for King of Limbs because after loving In Rainbows so much and getting back into the band around that time, even though The [00:05:00] King of Limbs wasn't quite what I expected I came to really love the record even for what other people might perceive as its faults. So I think it became a very autumnal record for me that I listened to all the time, but I do understand people's issues with it. And I think people still do have a lot of those issues with the record.
[00:05:17] Savannah Wright: [00:05:17] What are some of those issues? Is it the sampling and looping as opposed to the acoustic instrumentation? Or what do you think those are?
[00:05:23]Oliver Kemp: [00:05:23] I think it's a mixture of things. I think, uh, yeah, I think the looping is one of them, is one of the parts. I think a lot of the tracks sound like they [00:05:30] bleed into each other. They don't have too much dynamism and I don't think that necessarily has to be a negative. It's just a different production technique that Nigel Godrich and co decided to take on the album.
[00:05:40] It's just a very different feeling, especially because of the warmth of In Rainbows. And there is so much dynamic instrumentation on that record. And they went for a very, very warm, natural sound on that. This was the complete opposite way.
[00:05:52] And that there's certain tracks. I mean, that some people, the people that really don't like the album might call fillers. Tracks like "Feral," for [00:06:00] example, that you wouldn't usually get on a, on a Radiohead record. All of a sudden we've, we've got this sort of instrumental track with, um, backing with reversed vocals and guitar chords and things. And it was, it was like a strange experimentation really. And I think people just wanted another In Rainbows record.
[00:06:20] Savannah Wright: [00:06:20] Yeah, as I was researching this, I was wondering, do you think this follows a similar pattern to how people reacted to Kid A and Amnesiac after OK Computer? Because they were doing something totally different than what people wanted them to do [00:06:30] again?
[00:06:30] Oliver Kemp: [00:06:30] Yeah, probably. I mean, I've lorded over many a review of, of Radiohead around that sort of time when people were expecting, like you say, they were expecting OK Computer part two. And Radiohead being the band that they are, the shape-shifting band, decided to release this very frosty electronic record, which has become probably widely considered one of their best records. I mean, I'd probably put it up there with In Rainbows and Amnesiac as well with, with, with their best.
[00:06:57] Um, I think they, they like constantly defying [00:07:00] expectations and the number of times that, that Thom's come out on interviews and he's clearly bored with a certain type of, of creative process. So he was sick of guitar music by the time OK Computer had finished so that's why they jumped to the electronic sound.
[00:07:11] And I think maybe the same thing happened after In Rainbows. It was time for him to do something different and try something new, to try and get out that stale uh, environment of the recording studio. And that's why we got this very different sort of record.
[00:07:25] Savannah Wright: [00:07:25] While the songs of In Rainbows stemmed from the band's live performances, the sound of The King of [00:07:30] Limbs arose from experimentation in the studio. Inspired by his recent deejaying stints with producer Nigel Godrich in LA, Thom Yorke wanted to push the boundaries of conventional recording methods for the next record. So Godrich proposed a two week experiment: the band would exchange their acoustic instruments for turntables and vinyl emulation software, and then share whatever they came up with. According to Godrich, two weeks became six months, and The King of Limbs was born.
[00:08:01] [00:08:00] Although Yorke described the album as an expression of wildness and mutation, several fans were dismayed by the electronic rigidity of this record, especially after the expressive, lyrical In Rainbows. But Oliver says Yorke's interest in electronic experimentation shouldn't have been a surprise.
[00:08:19] Oliver Kemp: [00:08:19] You know, electronic wise, we had all of, all of his solo work with The Eraser and all that kind of stuff. And after The King of Limbs came out we had Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, which again was quite a [00:08:30] strange, abstract, difficult record that people struggled to warm up to I suppose.
[00:08:36] Savannah Wright: [00:08:36] Maybe The King of Limbs just lacked the beating heart of In Rainbows. Like Oliver said, the tracks on King of Limbs are unassuming and tend to bleed into each other. They lack the anthemic quality of "Nude" or the heartrending poignancy of "Videotape". Maybe if Radiohead could show us the emotion behind these tracks, we could better appreciate them.
[00:08:57] The King of Limbs: Live from the Basement [00:09:00] does just that. The broadcast was released about 10 months after The King of Limbs and includes performances of all eight tracks from the record, as well as a few singles. Modeled after their previous live video album for In Rainbows, the sessions were produced by Godrich and televised internationally.
[00:09:18] Clive Deamer of Portishead joined Phil Selway to execute the album's complicated poly- rhythms, while the horn section was added to fill out the sound of songs like "Bloom" and "Codex". [00:09:30] Together, they breathe new life into these oft maligned songs.
[00:09:33] Oliver Kemp: [00:09:33] I was completely blown away. So I know that, uh, The King of Limbs came out, I think it was in February. And then we got this release in December. So it was a few months after. It gave The King of Limbs some time to percolate. I think some people had decided that they didn't like it, or others had warmed to it and others were still hoping for King of Limbs part two. So those people might still be hoping for King of Limbs part two.
[00:09:56] Um, I remember sitting down and watching it [00:10:00] cause I bought the DVD, um, the lovely slip case cover and, uh, it just, it, all of the tracks. And bearing in mind, this was the point where I was enjoying The King of Limbs. I listened to it a lot. It just put everything into this full, vibrant Technicolor. All of a sudden you have, you have the really sort of sultry, dark lighting of the studio where they filmed it. Uh, you have these really full bodied compositions where every single track that was, um, a little bit more mechanical, a bit more restrained on The King of Limbs completely came to life in that From the [00:10:30] Basement session. It's just like, they, they found a way of contextualizing in a live setting and just bringing it to life in a way that, um, that I think a lot of people wish they had on, on the studio versions of the tracks.
[00:10:41] Savannah Wright: [00:10:41] Hm. Yeah. Do you feel like this performance and redeemed the album for fans who didn't appreciate it when it was first released?
[00:10:48] Oliver Kemp: [00:10:48] Yeah, maybe it did. I mean, I, I guess I don't like the word redeemed because. Because I like The King of Limbs as an album anyway. Um, but I think, yeah, but I think a lot of people [00:11:00] do feel that way, especially with a track like "Bloom" because "Bloom" has so much potential.
[00:11:04] And anyone that went on the, on the tour for King of Limbs would have got an opportunity to see these these tracks performed as they were in the From the Basement sessions. And it is just an entirely different experience. So, I mean, I was standing with people. I was lucky enough to see them at the O2 arena in London on the King of Limbs tour in 2012. So by that time From the Basement sessions had been out already.
[00:11:24] And I was next to a couple of people in the audience who said, 'no, I don't really like The King of Limbs stuff. I'm not really [00:11:30] here for that. And they were just as enraptured by performances like "Bloom" as everybody else was in the audience because it was just this awe inspiring performance. And, you know, since then Thom's done. When he did the Pathway to Paris performance, he did that piano led version of "Bloom," which was just beautiful.
[00:11:47] And I think it's kind of fascinating the way you get a chance to see this set of songs evolving over time. Cause most, most bands, um, they will listen to the, that. They'll create the tracks. They'll go in the studio for months at a time. They'll come [00:12:00] out very polished and they'll perform those tracks 'as are' in the live setting and that's kind of the only way you ever get to hear those tracks.
[00:12:06] And I think with Radiohead, they've always been a different band because if you followed them, if you followed their career, you know of certain songs that have cropped up here and there, and they're sort of, they have this shrouded mystery around them that they've got sort of maybe names, but we're not too sure. And then out of nowhere, they appear in studio form. Sometimes, completely different to what you'd imagined.
[00:12:25] Like "Nude," for example, that's been around since '96 and when it appeared on In Rainbows, everyone [00:12:30] was sort of shocked at the, uh, what it was like finally. And "Videotape," another one as well. And then we got "Identikit" and tracks like that on A Moon Shaped Pool.
[00:12:38] So, um, I think, I think in some ways it probably does redeem. I remember having lots of conversations on, on subreddits and things like that, about how From the Basement had changed fans' opinions of it, because it does just warm up the tone of the record, like retroactively. It's kind of a strange thing.
[00:12:58] Um, but I [00:13:00] guess also I treat them as different, almost different. They are like different entities. So I find that I actually listened to the From the Basement sessions more than I listened to The King of Limbs. I just think it's yeah. I just think it's, uh, it's just a better complete package, but I do still sometimes listen to, uh, The King of Limbs. But I definitely, I definitely think there is maybe a kind of reappraisal that goes on between those two separate performances.
[00:13:25] Savannah Wright: [00:13:25] Do you listen to it more because you like the arrangements of it better with the acoustic [00:13:30] instrumentation or why is it?
[00:13:31] Oliver Kemp: [00:13:31] Yeah, I think, I mean, there's, there's so many, uh, there's so many parts of all the tracks on the King, on The King of Limbs: From the Basement session I think makes it such a beautiful, warm recording.
[00:13:41] I think just bringing on Clive Deamer from Portishead, the drama doubling up the percussion alongside Phil Selway made a massive difference to the sound in that studio. They recorded and made avail and they had quite a large group of people getting involved in this performance.
[00:13:56] But I mean, on, on, on "Bloom," for example, you have those poly- rhythms and you have [00:14:00] Jonny playing that triplet rhythm and everything becomes a little bit sloppy and messy and drags a little bit, but whereas on the studio version of bloom, it all feels quite mechanical and it stays in place like a bit like a ticking clock really. There's just something about that slip that you get on the live performance that makes it feel so much more human.
[00:14:20] And you have that brass that's backed up as well. I mean, there's that, there's that moment just after the chorus where, um, I think it's Clive that thwacks the snare, and they go into that moment whereThom [00:14:30] does that soaring vocal and the brass come in and it's such, it's such a sweet spot. They found a real sweet spot with that track that perhaps felt like it was just out of reach in the studio recording. I think that's just a little example of the number of times they managed to improve on the songwriting and the styles of these tracks in this live setting.
[00:14:51] Savannah Wright: [00:14:51] Yeah, no, I totally agree. Because I had, I was at The King of Limbs tour as well, but because I was so far away, it was hard for me to really see what was going on. So to see in the, From the [00:15:00] Basement, uh, video, to see them performing, it was just so enrapturing. I especially loved watching the two drum lines going at the same time. It was just so fascinating to me.
[00:15:10] And also the fact that they didn't use, like you were saying, they didn't just use loops. That they could've just had the prerecorded loops going and then they could have like, played over that because that's what Thom has done in some of his solo tours. But I just, yeah, I agree with what you said.
[00:15:24] Oliver Kemp: [00:15:24] Yeah. I don't think it would've worked if they'd done that. I think it would have felt really, especially because [00:15:30] the way that Radiohead do their set lists and have done since King of Limbs, is that they like to throw lots of different eras of their sound into one set list.
[00:15:36] And I think if you were jumping from the really, uh, band led tracks from like the OK Computer era or something like that, and you'd put that alongside something that had recorded fixed beats, I think that would probably feel really, um, sort of off-kilter completely. So I think they probably, they probably sat down and thought we have to change this for a live setting. Um, it just works so well.
[00:15:59] Savannah Wright: [00:15:59] Yeah, I [00:16:00] agree. That's a good point. Um, are there any other songs that seemed completely different to you once you saw them performed? You mentioned "Bloom," but were there any others that stood out to you?
[00:16:07] Oliver Kemp: [00:16:07] Yeah. Um, I think, I think one of the other ones that really hits and it's probably my least favorite of The King of Limbs studio album is, uh, Good Morning, Mr. Magpie. Just, I think maybe it was only on the first few lessons, but it felt so lonely. Plus initially, um, that there is like, there's like a bit of tension there in the studio recording, but it never feels like it really gets going. It's it's a very steady, [00:16:30] yeah, restrained piece of music.
[00:16:32] Um, and I mean, obviously I think a lot of fans already had an idea of what the track might sound like cause it existed as that Thom's solo acoustic guitar piece. That was, I think it was called "Morning, My Lord", if I remember correctly, I think that was the original name for it. Um, and that was a, it was, that was on, um, one of the sort of webcasts and that was a fun piece, but a bit messy.
[00:17:07] (clip from "Morning, My Lord" demo)
[00:17:07] [00:17:00] Um, and then the version that they finally came to on the From the Basement session. It just has. It, it's angry and clatters in a sort of menacing way. It feels way more grandiose than the track that was recorded. You have that pic scraped guitars of Thom and Ed. There's that real energy between Clide and Phil. It just creates a far more fueled experience.
[00:17:27] And I think. It just, it just [00:17:30] encapsulates this period of Radiohead so much better, this live track. And yeah, it's just another example of how they managed to take that idea and flesh it out and just create something entirely different with it.
[00:17:41] Savannah Wright: [00:17:41] Yeah, that was, that was something that stood out to me. So I'm glad you mentioned that. Um, I guess my last question for you is what is this From the Basement session say about Radiohead as performers? Is their work best appreciated live?
[00:17:54] Oliver Kemp: [00:17:54] Oh that that's a, that's a tough question. I mean, I've been lucky enough to [00:18:00] see the Radiohead a couple of times, and they've probably been some of the best experiences I've ever had live. Um, but I can never discern whether that's because I have such an emotional connection with the band anyway.
[00:18:12] Um, obviously they're incredible live performers. There's no doubt about that. Uh, but a lot of the, there were a lot of the really explosive moments that you can have with them live are often when they stick to their studio recordings um, the most. I mean, when they, when they play "Paranoid Android" in it's full, they don't exactly move too [00:18:30] far away from that in the way that they instru the way that they structure that. Um, so I think a lot of it might just come down to the emotional connection that you have with the band from the off.
[00:18:40] But I think. I think that's why The King of Limbs is, is very different because they, they take these ideas and they do something entirely different with it. Uh, but I think it also, maybe it makes a wider point about songwriting in general, that there are arenas for studio performances and there are live arenas. And those two things are sometimes [00:19:00] completely different depending on what kind of music you listen to.
[00:19:02] I mean, there's just certain music for me that I don't necessarily want to see at the live setting. If I think about. So I'm a big electronic music fan, for example. Um, and I, I love, um, Autechre. I, for me, I don't know if I want to experience Autechre in a live setting, particularly.
[00:19:18] So sometimes I think those things just don't connect. And I think that Radiohead, being such seasoned performers that they are, probably understood that some of the [00:19:30] compositions on this record just don't quite fit in a live setting. But the fact that they were able to just take those and make something entirely new out of them proves how intelligent they are as songwriters, but performers as well.
[00:19:42] And collaborators, because bringing, bringing Clive in to that tour was a genius move. And it's something that they've done since on, on the, on the Moon Shaped Pool gigs, because it works so well for them having those double drums. I think it shows that they have a real love for live performance as [00:20:00] well.
[00:20:00] And the number of times, and the pay people that aren't Radiohead fans and that's not, probably not going to be anybody who's listening to this podcast, right. Right. The peoplethat aren't Radiohead fans, they fall into those old trappings and cliches of 'oh Radiohead are boring, you know, they're depressing. They just stand, they stand still live and don't do anything.' I don't even know where those, those preconceptions come from because none of it's actually true.
[00:20:22] So a Radiohead live performance is is one of the most like emotional and um, intense performances you'll probably ever [00:20:30] see. Um, and I think that's again where they come to life. You've got Jonny on his knees playing with synths and Thom dancing like a madman. You've got everything that's going on. They all seem to really enjoy their live performances.
[00:20:41] I think, I feel like, I mean, I've trawled the internet for live recordings and videos of them over the years. And it feels like they're in a period from about The King of Limbs onwards. They're in a period where they're really enjoying playing live again, but more than they ever were. Um, and maybe the experimentation that came around that From the Basement [00:21:00] sessions helped to fuel that.
[00:21:01] Uh, even down to Thom's live performances when he does his solo work. I got to see him at the Roundhouse last year, and he was doing some to Tomorrow's Modern Boxes stuff. And it just seemed like he's just in love with that live performance and very, very sort of infectious with his personality. And, and I don't know how often that's come across in the past because he does have that demeanor of being quite poker faced and quite archly cryptic and not very approachable and all those kind of cliches that he falls into.
[00:21:28] Um, and I think [00:21:30] maybe that the, the, From the Basement session just shows that creative playful side, not just of Thom but of everybody else in the band too. And just, just reveals a band that are able to create, even what seems like a misstep to some people, create something out of it that even more people are able to appreciate.
[00:21:48] Savannah Wright: [00:21:48] Yeah, no, I totally agree. What I feel like when you see them perform live, you can't help but love them cause they're just so dedicated to the sounds they're producing and it's just really exciting to see how enthusiastic they are.
[00:21:59] Oliver Kemp: [00:21:59] Yeah. [00:22:00] Yeah. And they did, they just have you with the lighting, everything they do. I remember, I think they played "Myxomatosis" maybe the third or fourth track in when I saw them, and the lights were switched to green and it was just a moment, which felt like, I don't know, it felt like the atmosphere was so cloying around everyone. It just. It's an unexplainable feeling, seeing them live.
[00:22:17] And it sounds like, I'm, you know, waxing, lyrical about them but that's because they are really that good.
[00:22:23] Savannah Wright: [00:22:23] No, I completely agree. Yeah. They're still my favorite concert that I've seen, um, from The King of Limbs tour. I wasn't able to go to the Moon Shaped Pool tour, [00:22:30] but yeah. The way that they combine their visuals as well is just astounding. It really resonates in your mind for years.
[00:22:35] Oliver Kemp: [00:22:35] Yeah. And I, I really liked the visuals around The King of Limbs as well. The stuff that Stanley Donwood did, uh, with the, with the big trees um, and the strange sort of ghostly figures on the, on the, on the sleeve of the album. I think, um, yeah, that's probably, it's probably one of my favorite visual representations of a Radiohead album as well. I think it's got, uh, just a lovely feeling for, and it really captures that what, what you feel as you're listening to the record.
[00:22:59] I think [00:23:00] Stanley is very good at doing that anyway. I think you look back at all of the different visual representations of what Radiohead have done, and it just feels like the artwork connects so well to what what's happening aurally, which I think is is this impressive. Cause sometimes music is very difficult to explain visually, isn't it? But somehow they always managed to pair that up.
[00:23:20] Savannah Wright: [00:23:20] Yeah, no, that I want to do a whole separate episode with him, but that's that's on my dream goal.
[00:23:25] Oliver Kemp: [00:23:25] Yeah, definitely. I'd love to hear that.
[00:23:28] Savannah Wright: [00:23:28] Another bonus of seeing [00:23:30] Radiohead perform these songs? Thom's signature dance moves. Watching Thom writhe and jump to songs like "Feral" and "Lotus Flower" is endlessly entertaining.
[00:23:39] But jokes aside, I think to thoroughly appreciate Radiohead's work you need to see them perform. There's an unexplained magic to how they bring a song from the studio to life.
[00:23:49] Oliver Kemp: [00:23:49] Uh, I'm sure many people have listened to this podcast will have already listened to From the Basement sessions, but watching it as well, I think is part of it. It's to get to see these people in action and see them [00:24:00] repurposing their own music. Um, it's just one of those, one of those things that you have to do as a fan, because I think it will change your, or maybe challenge your preconceptions of The King of Limbs if it's a record that you haven't maybe considered as top tier as, as, as you were before.
[00:24:16] Savannah Wright: [00:24:16] Yeah. Are you familiar with Christopher O'Riley's piano interpretations of Radiohead?
[00:24:21] Oliver Kemp: [00:24:21] Yes, I am. Yeah, yeah.
[00:24:23] Savannah Wright: [00:24:23] We just interviewed him a couple of weeks ago and he was saying, yeah, I haven't really done any, um, any interpretations of The King of [00:24:30] Limbs stuff. It just wasn't my favorite. And I was like, Oh, that's so interesting. This, a lot of people just kind of write it off. So I'm really grateful. I was able to talk to you and get a new perspective on it. Cause I've always liked it, but I didn't know how to articulate why it was, you know, something to be contended with.
[00:24:43] Oliver Kemp: [00:24:43] Yeah. It's hard, isn't it? I think it's such a shame cause like a track like "Codex," for example, if that was on a different record, I felt like people would consider that one of their top tier piano led Radiohead tracks. Um, and I consider it one of those things. Um, but people just don't connect with it. And I think [00:25:00] it's such a shame.
[00:25:00] I think perhaps if the band had decided to include "The Daily Mail" and "Supercollider" on the record, it might have helped a little bit, but I think at the same time, it probably wouldn't have fitted the style of the original recorded tracks. So I understand why they didn't.
[00:25:14] Um, but I think, I feel like the fan opinion has slightly changed over the years. Ever since, since A Moon Shaped Pool was released, I think it's given people closure. That people that really vehemently hated The King of Limbs, now they've got something else and they, there's something else that they like. In their opinion, Radiohead's [00:25:30] back on form. They're able to, you know, finish their closure with, with King of Limbs and decide that actually it's an okay record.
[00:25:36] But I've got to say as much as I, as much as I like A Moon Shaped Pool, I'd probably still have more of a connection at this point with, with The King of Limbs, but then that's many years since 2011 of listening to it and we've only had A Moon Shaped Pool for a few years. So maybe my opinions on that will change. Eventually.
[00:25:55] Savannah Wright: [00:25:55] If you only look at The King of Limbs as the successor to In Rainbows, you will be [00:26:00] eternally disappointed. It doesn't have the soaring vocals, the ethereal guitar lines, or the heartbreakingly beautiful strings. But Radiohead never promised that it would. They achieved that sound with their last record, and now it was time to try another. After all, Radiohead's penchant for mutation has, in many ways, contributed to their popular and critical success.
[00:26:23] But after reviewing some of the album's criticism, I wonder if The King of Limbs simply wasn't enough of a mutation for some [00:26:30] listeners. In his review for Pitchfork, Mark Pytlik said the album missed 'the band's signature game-changing ambition.' In a retrospective on Stereogum Ryan Leas said that The King of Limbs quote, 'felt like something of a letdown because it wasn't ultimately some genius stroke, none of us expected.'
[00:26:50] So do you think our expectations are too high? Like is our reaction to this album colored by our expectations that Radiohead's supposed to do something genius every time they release [00:27:00] something?
[00:27:00] Oliver Kemp: [00:27:00] Yeah. I mean they're the band with probably the highest fan expectations you can possibly imagine. I mean, I'm sure you've frequented the, the subreddit uh, for Radiohead, which is just probably one of my favorite places to be as a fan, because I remember we started getting snippets about A Moon Shaped Pool coming out and trying to put together all these, all this information to try and work out what tracks are going to be on this album, which fan favorites are going to be there, which aren't.
[00:27:23] And it is a rabid fan base. It's, it's an obsession for a lot of people. And I totally understand why because it's one of my obsessions as well. [00:27:30] So even if, um, you don't want to get your expectations high, it's inevitable. It's inevitable to do so cause I mean, have they released a bad record? I don't think they have ever released a bad record. So that expectation is going to go higher and higher.
[00:27:44] And um, yeah, I, I think that's just inevitable with a band that has hit the highs as many times as Radiohead have.
[00:27:53] Savannah Wright: [00:27:53] Some fans took a while to warm up to Kid A because it was too different from OK Computer. Perhaps [00:28:00] fans didn't embrace The King of Limbs because it simply isn't different enough.
[00:28:05] In any case, I think most of us can agree that the live From the Basement sessions add vivacity and color to an otherwise restrained and enigmatic record. And that Radiohead, by inspiring fans to change their minds about these songs, were masterful performers.
[00:28:26] You've been listening to Fake Plastic Podcast. Fake [00:28:30] Plastic Podcast is an Alternate Thursdays production with new episodes every other Wednesday. You can find us on Instagram or Twitter @fakeplasticpod. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. And if you really liked this episode, please leave a review and share with your friends, Radiohead fans or otherwise. I'm Savannah Wright. Thanks for listening.