Monday, 1 June 2020

Radiohead ‎– OK Computer OKNOTOK (1997-2017) (1997)

Genre: Electronic, Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Parlophone, EMI, Capitol Records

1-01.   Airbag
1-02.   Paranoid Android
1-03.   Subterranean Homesick Alien
1-04.   Exit Music (For A Film)
1-05.   Let Down
1-06.   Karma Police
1-07.   Fitter Happier
1-08.   Electioneering
1-09.   Climbing Up The Walls
1-10.   No Surprises
1-11.   Lucky
1-12.   The Tourist
2-01.   I Promise
2-02.   Man Of War
2-03.   Lift
2-04.   Lull
2-05.   Meeting In The Aisle
2-06.   Melatonin
2-07.   A Reminder
2-08.   Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)
2-09.   Pearly
2-10.   Palo Alto
2-11.   How I Made My Millions

Strings Arranged By – Radiohead
Conductor – Nick Ingman
Recorded By – Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Songwriter – Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Jonny Greenwood, Phil Selway, Thom Yorke

Twenty years on, Radiohead revisit their 1997 masterpiece with a deluxe reissue. The bonus material includes familiar B-sides and a few previously unheard recordings that hint at an intriguing road not taken. 
As they regrouped to figure out what their third album might be, Radiohead faced, if not a crossroads, then an unusually open stretch of road. They had toured with Alanis Morissette in support of their second LP, 1995's The Bends. They had appeared, pale and blinking, before tanned and greased hordes on “MTV Spring Break,” wailing the chorus to a massive runaway hit that was now fading in their rearview. On their first two records, they had worked with two different conventional rock producers, and now they itched to cut tether from professional studios altogether. They had earned the freedom to thrash around, to spend some record label money and burn some of the industry goodwill they’d accumulated pursuing whatever they wanted. So what would that be? 
It’s still funny to think, two decades later, that Thom Yorke’s first answer to that question was to create Radiohead’s first “positive” album. No more iron lungs, or songs inspired by brutal gun rampages, he swore: This time, he told NME, “I’m deliberately writing down all the positive things I hear or see.” 
It’s unclear what happened to that album. OK Computer obviously wasn’t it. But there has always been a tantalizing alternate-history version of Radiohead’s third LP lurking behind the finished product. Their sessions weren’t exactly a deep-dive into hell, despite the record’s now-concrete reputation as a piece of digital-age prophecy. For every dour “Paranoid Android” thunderclap, there was a shimmering, lighter “Melatonin” as its B-side. More than 20 songs were winnowed down to 12, in fact, and the narrative the discarded tracks suggest has been kept under quite deliberate lock and key by the band. But now, years on, they are cracking open its vaults, perhaps to slyly underscore the point that they were always more human, and connected to good old hoary rock music, 
OKNOTOK is something a little more interesting than a remaster with tacked-on B-sides and rarities, even if that’s technically what it is. The “rarities” included here have never been all that rare, and many of the songs included on this set (“How I Made My Millions,” “Polyethylene”) live in readily accessible digital eternity on Spotify and have been performed live for more than a decade. Radiohead have always treated these songs, the ones that came before OK Computer truly took shape, with a wry sort of kid-brother affection: The storied B-side “Lift,” which finally sees inclusion here, was once seen as a “bog-shite B-side,” in the words of Ed O’Brien. It’s a lovely, weightless strummer of a song, and watching them send it shimmering out over a field of blissed-out stadium concertgoers in 1996 is the clearest mental picture you can get of this alternate history come to life. 
But “Lift’s” reputation for positivity might be a little confused; in the song’s lyrics, the title is a noun, not a verb. The protagonist is stuck in an elevator, a piece of mundane modern technology that has suddenly halted and trapped us inside it. That lilting chorus of “Today is the first day of the rest of your days” isn’t a promise; it’s a death sentence, and the hapless soul inside it is doomed to expire soundlessly in the intestines of some soulless corporate edifice. The song doesn’t land all that far away from the chiming lullaby “No Surprises,” then, with its job that slowly kills you and the bruises that won’t heal. 
The most fun to be had with OKNOTOK is in these line-blurring moments, hearing how the lost material informs the original album. After The Bends, Radiohead were briefly lumped in with the other bands in the “Britpop” scene, an association they never relished. If “Palo Alto” had seen official release, it would have stamped them with the brand for life; with the lava-lamp psychedelia of its winding central guitar riff, it is very nearly a Kula Shaker song, and it also happens to be the song that gave OK Computer its name. The same goes for “Pearly,” in which Yorke leers about “vanilla milkshakes” and moans “use me, darling, use me” over a nearly-Led Zeppelin III-sized stomp with an arpeggiated coda straight out of “House of the Rising Sun.” It was “a dirty song for people who use sex for dirty things,” Yorke used to joke when introducing the song in concert. 
This fondness for camp and schlock has always been latent in Radiohead’s music, and teasing it out doesn’t take too much detective work. The original “Paranoid Android” closed with a wild, straight-outta-Deep Purple keyboard solo that, Jonny Greenwood joked to Rolling Stone recently for an oral history, is hard to get through “without clutching your sofa for support.” Alongside the earliest live versions of songs like “No Surprises” and “Let Down,” they often treated audiences to a plaintive, reverent cover of Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” the AM-radio theme to the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. 
The ghost of Bond followed them once they decamped from their self-built studio Canned Applause to set up shop in a 16th-century Bath mansion owned by Jane Seymour—she played a Bond girl in Live and Let Die. And it has followed them ever since: It’s worth remembering that Radiohead were tapped to write a Bond theme for Spectre, and obliged, only to have their offering vetoed. The lyric “Kill me Sarah/Kill me again/With love” (“Lucky”) feels tailor-made for a suggestive title sequence full of undulating silhouettes. Many songs on the original OK Computer feel written for a desk-drone, earthbound version of England’s most famous fictional spy, the sort of soul who whistles “bring down the government, they don't speak for us” while dutifully hitting “Zoom” on government surveillance footage. “In an interstellar burst/I am back to save the universe !!” Yorke sang, ironically, on “Airbag,” a line that could be mocking or hopeful or just wistful—like Pink Floyd, the classic rock band often mentioned as an aesthetic forebear to OK Computer, Radiohead succeeded in part by writing superhero themes for introverts. 
Radiohead have been at least as brilliant at packaging and positioning themselves, step by step, as they have been in making and sequencing albums. They have always been studious draftsmen who seem to intuit on a cellular level when a song is “ready,” both as a compositional and a brick in their narrative. This is how their catalog ends up with ghosts hovering over it: When “Nude” finally appeared on 2007’s In Rainbows, Radiohead superfans felt the gratifying chill of recognition—this was the classic “Big Ideas,” played for years at gigs, finally given flesh. 
Now that they have arrived at an autumnal, valedictory stage in their career arc, they are mining drama from gestures of release and resignation. “True Love Waits,” Yorke’s most unguarded song, finally appeared as the closer to their sumptuous, open-hearted ninth album A Moon Shaped Pool. And they have restored “I Promise,” a pure beam of sunlight that had no room on either The Bends or OK Computer, to this edition, another note in an ongoing song about throwing open doors and embracing surrender. “I won’t run away no more/I promise” Yorke sings on the song, the dewy, angelic falsetto of his ’90s years miraculously restored. Years removed from its source, its impact is multiplied tenfold. In 1996, it was a path towards adult-contemporary pop radio; today, it’s an exquisitely faded Polaroid.
Jayson Greene / Pitchfork

The Woodentops ‎– Wooden Foot Cops On The Highway (1988)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Nuevos Medios, Rough Trade

1.   Maybe It Won't Last
2.   They Can Say What They Want
3.   You Make Me Feel
4.   Wheels Turning
5.   Stop This Car
6.   Heaven
7.   What You Give Out
8.   Tuesday Wednesday
9.   In A Dream

Acoustic Guitar – Rolo
Bass – Doug Wimbish
Bass Guitar – Frank de Freitas
Clavinet – Bernie Worrell
Drums – Benny Staples
Guitar – Anne Stephenson, Simon Mawby
Percussion – Fred Maher
Producer – Rolo, Scott Litt
Slide Guitar – Gary Lucas
Vocals – Anne Stephenson, Benny Staples, Frank de Freitas, Rolo, Simon Mawby
Additional Vocals – June Miles-Kingston, Mark Lussana Tunkara

The Woodentops' 1988 album shows the group experimenting with different styles in their own eccentrically nervous way. "They Can Say What They Want" is best described as infectiously nerdy funk, while "Wheels Turning" is a lengthy song that's as close to a danceable number as the group ever produced. "In a Dream" is a manic, poppish, rap-tinged number, while "You Make Me Feel" is a capable selection that exhibits discreet country influences. Other experiments are less successful. "Heaven" is a slow, synthesizer-dominated number with gospel touches that is marred by a haphazardly jumbled text setting. "Tuesday Wednesday" is a bizarre folkish number with mild Latin coloration and odd beeping interjections. "What You Give Out" is a barely disguised ripoff of the Talking Heads song "The Great Curve" -- listenable, to be sure, but unbelievably derivative. For those hoping to find attractively manic, pure pop numbers like those on prior releases, there are two excellent examples here, "Maybe It Won't Last" and "Stop the Car." Production values are again intricate and often clever, though at times they seem at cross-purposes with the musical mood the band is trying to create. This album is not bad, though not on a par with previous releases.
David Cleary / AllMusic

Marco Bosco ‎– Metalmadeira (2019)

Genre: Ambient, Experimental
Format: Vinyl, MP3
Label: Les Giants

1.   Metal I (Camila)
2.   Metal II (Pedra)
3.   Metal III (Vento)
4.   Metal IV (Ferro)
5.   Madeira I (Chuva)
6.   Madeira II (Mãe Terra)
7.   Madeira III (Mata)
8.   Medeira IV (Pau)
9.   Electric Wood I

Producer – Marco Bosco
Mixed By – Hamilton Griecco, Marco Bosco, Ruriá Duprat

"In 1983, with 27 years of age, already working intensely and carrying my instruments on the road of music in various directions and already fully contaminated by dreams of music and the magic of recording, which started with my beloved and memorable Group Acaru in 1980 in the live album recorded in Tokyo and the album Aqualouco recorded in São Paulo in 1981, at the dawn of independent production in Brazil. With the dispersion of Group Acaru, it was inevitable for me to go solo, not very common for a percussion player at that time. Looking at my instruments I realized that most were made of Metal or Wood and the junction of these two words in Portuguese Metalmadeira generated a third word “Alma” which means soul, and expresses intensely where my artistic and musical expression was coming from, and it was outside academia. Metalmadeira, now a 35-year-old son, keeps giving me joy and feeding mysoul! At the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1984, I gave a copy of this album to the English musician and producer Brian Eno who was doing a seminar on minimalist music.

In 2016 DJ and producer John Gomez in a CharityBazaar in London found that copy which I had autographed. Three songs were included in the compilation. “Outro Tempo” (Another Time), released on vinyl in Europe brought me more joy and guided me here for a special opportunity to work on new versions of two songs from that album, Madeira I and Madeira II, with the participation of two legendary Brazilian artists no longer among us, singer-songwriter Belchior and the virtuoso bassist Nico Asumpção, featuring the keyboard players Paulo Calasans and João Cleber Frutuozo, and the elegance of the musician and mixing engineer Emil Shayeb, a gift to us offered by Les Giants that once again believe in the magic of the Metal and Wood. Thank you all!” - Marco Bosco, Torinha 2019