Radiohead – Pablo Honey; The Bends; Ok Computer [Collector’s Editions] (Capitol)

Let the Pitchfork reading hipsters disagree, but Radiohead’s three best releases came out in the early to late 90’s, before the band became obsessed with synth-driven experimental songs. It’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 there’s only two years between each album, it’s clear to hear the band’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 band’s creative highpoint, I’ve always preferred the more standard rock songs from Pablo Honey and The Bends.

“High and Dry” and “Fake Plastic Trees,” both lyrically and musically sound just as fresh a decade and a half later and “Creep” with its memorable chainsaw guitar chord went from being a slacker anthem in the early 90’s to a modern rock classic. The rarities on the bonus discs have been floating around the Internet for years now, but unless you’re a diehard Radiohead fan (a Radiohead-head?) the tracks are new to you. Next month Capitol plans to re-release more of the band’s stuff on vinyl.

Top Tracks: Pablo Honey – “Creep” and “Anyone Can Play Guitar”; The Bends – “High and Dry,” “Fake Plastic Trees” and Bullet Proof”; OK Computer – “Karma Police” and “Paranoid Android”

Rating: Pablo Honey – 8.7 out 10; The Bends – 9 out of 10; OK Computer – 8.6 out of 10

Radiohead – Pablo Honey; The Bends; OK Computer [Collector’s Editions] (CDs) / Capitol/ 2009 / 34 tracks; 33 tracks; 27 tracks /

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