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September 2007
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November 2007

New Radiohead Review - In Rainbows

Inrainbows_box

Free or not too free?

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If you have a blog about music it seems mandatory that you post about the new Radiohead album In Rainbows, and how they have decided to distribute and sell it. You’ve probably already heard about this, but to quickly sum it up for you the story here that everyone is talking about (music blogs, magazines, even non-music news outlets) is that they’re offering the album via download (before it’s even available on disc) and it’s free. Actually, their site has a place to put in a price, meaning you can pay whatever you want, even $0. Most are amazed by this…calling it groundbreaking…everyone from Rolling Stone all the way over to Fox News seem amazed by this even though independent bands have been doing this for a long time now. Many of the bands on MySpace make their music available for download for free. But they aren’t Radiohead, a band that has been on a major label and sold a ton of albums. So yes, there is a story here, but is it that surprising? This is where the industry is headed kids, so get used to it. My first reaction to this news was to question why, and unlike most I immediately assumed it was because the music was bad (the album title sure is). Radiohead has 3 great albums, 2 of those bordering on genius. I’m talking about Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. The later being one of the most brilliantly groundbreaking albums of the last 20 years. Those were the first three Radiohead albums. Since then they’ve put out one horrible album after another, three un-listenable, meandering, experimental discs of ambient crap. It doesn’t even resemble the same band that put out those first three records. I’m not against experimental music, or even reinvention, only when it is that bad. Admittedly, they had no where to go but down after OK Computer, but no one could have imagined how far they would fall. I personally thought it was a great idea and a smart marketing move to offer this new one as a free download because it took the focus off of the music. That was until I listened to the album. In Rainbows is the first Radiohead album since OK Computer to effectively use melody, song structure and hooks. There are actual songs here. They actually sound like a band again instead of some amateur in his basement with a computer. No, it isn’t as good as the first three, but it’s a close fourth and there are a number of moments where we hear that old Radiohead brilliance. So what did I pay for my download? I’m a collector, and I still love the physical product, so I wanted to support their decision to offer a limited edition box set version. I paid the big bucks and preordered that and got the download for free. If you’re just going to get the download I think anywhere from $1 to $10 is fair, but I would recommend getting the download now for free and buying the CD when it comes out next year so you have the packaging, credits and bonus tracks. That’s a sweet deal and all major, established artists should do it this way.

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To get it now go to www.inrainbows.com