Radiohead

The Best of Radiohead

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The year 2008 might have been a slightly early point in time to release expanded editions of the first several Radiohead albums, so Capitol greased the reissue pipeline with The Best Of, a 17-track disc with a track list that is as debatable as any other. The idea of squeezing the band's first six albums into something resembling a definitive one-disc introduction seems almost as wise as presenting A Collection of Great Dance Songs (incidentally a Capitol release) as the one true and useful introduction to Pink Floyd, but to be more fair, the disc does cover just about all of the basics: all the singles and emphasis tracks, from Pablo Honey's "Creep" through Hail to the Thief's "2+2=5," along with a small assortment of the band's better-known album cuts. One track apiece comes from Pablo Honey (1993) and Amnesiac (2001); three are from Kid A (2000), four are from OK Computer (1997), and six are off The Bends (1995). The primary problem, of course, is that Radiohead are much more an albums band than a singles band, especially from OK Computer onward, so a natural reflex for someone who has valued the band since The Bends is to shriek in mild agony; in principle, a best-of Radiohead compilation is similar to a DVD containing somewhat thoughtfully picked scenes from films made by a specific director. For a very casual fan who has absolutely no interest in exploring beyond the songs he or she heard on the radio or through MTV and the like, this set will do (it has "Creep" and half of The Bends, after all, and then a bunch of "the weird stuff"), but otherwise it clearly serves a purpose more meaningful for the label than anyone else.

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