High & Dry

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"High and Dry" opened the eyes of many people when it was released as a single. It was a strong sign that Radiohead was much more than just another one-hit wonder, and that the band was capable of scaling delicate emotional highs. Along with "Fake Plastic Trees," "High and Dry" served as the bittersweet backdrop for the band's majestic album The Bends. The song is paired here with three previously unreleased B-sides and a live version of "Just." All three B-sides are quality compositions, bridging the band's more traditional past with its more experimental future. "India Rubber" is a somewhat breezy number, comprised of a heavy drum beat, whining guitars, and synth sounds reminiscent of a John Barry film score. The song has a preening swagger, but it ends rather awkwardly, via a goofy, repeated sample, suggesting the band didn't know how or care to successfully end the song. "Maquilladora" is somewhat similar in sound to "India Rubber," but it's more aggressive and features guitars more prominently than keyboards. There are hints of Joy Divison within the melody, or maybe just a taste of Bailter Space, but it's not necessarily one of Radiohead's more compelling moments. "How Can You Be Sure?" is the strongest included B-side. Amid a rolling keyboard sound, gentle drums, and Thom Yorke's plaintive vocals, the song acts like a lullaby to the band's naive past; it's a final moment of calm before Radiohead would reinvent modern alternative music (at least in the world of popular music). The live version of "Just," recorded at The Forum in London, is a bit weak and uninteresting against the studio version on The Bends. The guitars are employed with great power, but the track falters due to a rather lackluster mixing job. High & Dry is a quality EP. It's not groundbreaking, but it's worth a look for die-hard fans.

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