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Radiohead
At the end of every rainbow, according to legend, lies a pot of gold. At the end of Radiohead’s rainbow, though, there is more: a pot of gold from which is born another rainbow.
Something new happens everyday. And on October 10, something relevant happened too. Radiohead, one of the biggest bands in the world, decided to change the way things worked. Unhappy for years with their record label, after releasing their sixth album Hail To The Thief and completing their album deal, the band decided to walk away from their label. For the last four years, they have been free agents and, not surprisingly, sought by other companies to add to their repertoire.
But Radiohead would have none of that. The band simply decided it was time to do what they did on their own terms. No more record companies to deal with, no more of other people insisting they do things a particular way. No, this time they would have complete control over their album. And once they’d recorded it, and were happy with what they had, the band decided to take things one step further.

Radiohead: Phenomenon
For a band that’s popular, Radiohead had a very low-key beginning. Four friends (and one brother) in school who decided to start a band, just like every other failed band out there, Thom Yorke and his boys were the recipients of British indifference after their first release. Their album Pablo Honey wasn’t making any waves, even after they’d released a few singles.

But it was a depressing song that made its way over the Atlantic Ocean that first got them noticed. Creep was downplayed in Britain for its self-deprecating lyrics, but the angry young people of America lapped up the cathartic track. And the fact that an entire nation’s youth identified with the track’s fragility, brought slow worldwide success to both, track and song. It was re-released in the UK, and the track slowly rose to #7 on the UK charts, forcing many to eat the words they’d earlier dished out to the band ~ including NME, who’d called the band a “lily livered excuse for a rock band”.

In light of their freakish rise to success, and the sudden association of the band with a particular genre of music identified by their gloomy lyrics, Yorke felt uncomfortable about being at the ‘pop’ music end of MTV. They’d come to be savoured by teens, almost like the flavour of the month, but this was success they didn’t want. Urging fans to take them seriously, they released the EP My Iron Lung, a sharp critique on the MTV generation. This release got them noticed, and serious fans began to cling on to the band for being über real.

Radiohead followed up the slow burning success of Pablo Honey with The Bends, an album that embraced more arena-rock sensibilities. The album made the band famous for more than just its music. This was the album that established them through their videos as well. Insanely curious videos like for Fake Plastic Trees, Just and Street Spirit were eaten up by fans, because unlike other artists on TV, they’d begun to break the norm.

OK Computer proved to be the band’s biggest commercial and critical success. This album established the band’s path, treading on new and unfamiliar sound-scapes. Not surprisingly, Radiohead won their first Grammy for Best Alternative Album for OK Computer. The success of the album came as a surprise to the band, who expected to be shunned for breaking out of the mould they’d created. But it provided some affirmation, and subsequent releases Kid A and Amnesiac furthered their desire to step into unknown territory.

Their last release of originals on their record label was Hail To The Thief, yet another laurel on their collective head. Amidst all of this success, the band did go through a number of rough patches, and their solo work helped them come to terms with the disparity in their individual and combined existences. Hail To The Thief was a sign of their triumph over the forces pulling them apart ~ including their record label. It was a sign that the band was finally ready to come back down to Earth, that in their exploration of the ‘musi-verse’, as it were, they found what they’d been looking for.

After very little debate, Radiohead bid farewell to the last structure tying them down, and with entered the recording studio for only the second time in their lives without a set of rules to follow and expectations to live up to. The result is In Rainbows, their seventh and most self-assured album yet.

Out Of The Box
So you want to buy Radiohead’s new album. But you don’t have money. Or you’re cheap. What do you do? Simply go to their official site, when prompted say £0 is what you want to pay, and download their entire album for free. And let’s say, come December, you’ve run into some money and you remember that you like all the songs on Radiohead’s album and you want more. You go to their site again and order, and pay for, the special box set of the album, which comes with an extra CD of tracks, and artwork created for the album.

That’s a fair gist of what you’ll be doing to get In Rainbows. And it’s probably the easiest and most guilt-free that getting an album has ever been. There’s no need to sneak off to P2P programs or torrent sites to get your free music; no, if you honestly feel that the album’s not worth your money, get it for free. If you have the means, and want to pay, go ahead. Remember, this time around, your money’s going to Radiohead in entirety.

There’s no need to speculate. They’ve got every record company spooked. Radiohead have always been at the forefront of all that is new and scary musically, and it should come as no shock that they are now experimenting with new ways for their music to reach fans. This isn’t the first time a band is giving fans an opportunity to pay whatever they want for the music. Not the first time, but Radiohead is by far the biggest band to ever undertake something like this.


You can read the rest of our feature on Radiohead in the November 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.






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Backstreet Boys
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Radiohead
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Matchbox Twenty
Nicole Scherzinger
Bob Dylan
Mekaal Hasan Band
Hard Kaur
Chamillionaire
Putumayo World Music
DJ Tiesto
Eternally Bonded
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Kailash Kher
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