Saturday 16 December 2017

Loaded: Radiohead buck the trend with secret album

John Meagher

John Meagher

Can you remember the last time a major act released an album that hadn't been leaked, at least partly? We're talking years, folks. And that's what makes tomorrow's unveiling of the new Radiohead album so remarkable. It's like being transported back to a pre-internet era when fans used to queue up at record stores -- remember them? -- to get their mitts on the latest album from U2 or Bowie or REM.

Nobody outside of Radiohead and their closest allies have an idea about what to expect. There's been no drip-feeding of album title, cover artwork, tracklisting, no samplers, no YouTube promo clip. Nothing, save for a succinct announcement on Monday that an album called King of Limbs would be released on Saturday.

Thom Yorke and co have managed to provoke genuine excitement by refusing to play a hackneyed music industry game. Once more, they are releasing music on their own terms, cutting out every middleman imaginable.

It's interesting to see them abandoning the 'honesty box' option of In Rainbows four years ago. It has been estimated that only 30pc of people who downloaded the album actually paid something for it.

This time, you'll have to pay Stg£6.99 to download and when physical editions -- dubbed 'newspaper albums' -- appear in May, the price will rise significantly.

Something makes me think I'll be rising unusually early tomorrow.

  • The Radiohead album announcement completely overshadowed the other bit of news emanating from the Oxford quintet's camp. The ever-busy guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, has signed on to score the movie version of the runaway bestseller, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Greenwood previously created original soundtracks for UK arthouse film Bodysong, and for the big-budget Daniel Day Lewis movie, There Will Be Blood. The latter is one of the most singular scores of recent years.

We Need to Talk About Kevin will be directed by the acclaimed Scot, Lynne Ramsay.

  • Dublin's Sugar Club is a truly lovely setting. It's intimate, has decent acoustics and musicians seem to love playing there. But my enjoyment of Jimmy Webb's show in the venue on Monday was marred by the constant noise at the bar. And I wasn't the only one to be irked. It's practically impossible to appreciate the complex wonder of MacArthur Park when a barman is shovelling ice out of a bucket or a customer is loudly regaling her friend with what she got up to that day.

Surely, this was one of those gigs where the bar should have shut during the performance? Do we always need to lubricate ourselves with alcohol in order to enjoy a concert? Although Webb's singing doesn't match his songwriting there were some special moments, not least when he concluded with a remarkable rendition of By the Time I Get to Phoenix.

  • Dean Wareham was in fine form in the Workman's Club last Friday and I heard mixed vibes about Darkstar's late set there on the same night. The venue was stuffed -- and that was great to see. It helped that the Today FM producer and movie reviewer Ed Smith was playing a truly fantastic DJ set in the upstairs bar area. More of this please.

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