Let the Pitchfork reading hipsters disagree, but Radioheadâ€™s three best releases came out in the early to late 90â€™s, before the band became obsessed with synth-driven experimental songs. Itâ€™s satisfying then that Capitol chose to put out Special Collectors Editions of Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer.
Each release comes with a second CD of rarities, demos and live songs, (deluxe versions also include DVDs of videos, concert clips and TV performances). Though thereâ€™s only two years between each album, itâ€™s clear to hear the bandâ€™s evolution from guitar-based pre-grunge alt rock to more thematic serious fare. Though OK Computer has been singled out by critics and fans as the bandâ€™s creative highpoint, Iâ€™ve always preferred the more standard rock songs from Pablo Honey and The Bends.
â€œHigh and Dryâ€ and â€œFake Plastic Trees,â€ both lyrically and musically sound just as fresh a decade and a half later and â€œCreepâ€ with its memorable chainsaw guitar chord went from being a slacker anthem in the early 90â€™s to a modern rock classic. The rarities on the bonus discs have been floating around the Internet for years now, but unless youâ€™re a diehard Radiohead fan (a Radiohead-head?) the tracks are new to you. Next month Capitol plans to re-release more of the bandâ€™s stuff on vinyl.
Top Tracks: Pablo Honey â€“ â€œCreepâ€ and â€œAnyone Can Play Guitarâ€; The Bends â€“ â€œHigh and Dry,â€ â€œFake Plastic Treesâ€ and Bullet Proofâ€; OK Computer â€“ â€œKarma Policeâ€ and â€œParanoid Androidâ€
Rating: Pablo Honey â€“ 8.7 out 10; The Bends â€“ 9 out of 10; OK Computer â€“ 8.6 out of 10
Radiohead â€“ Pablo Honey; The Bends; OK Computer [Collectorâ€™s Editions] (CDs) / Capitol/ 2009 / 34 tracks; 33 tracks; 27 tracks / http://www.capitolrecords.com