The start of January brought Radiohead fans a tremendous late holiday surprise, an extensive online resource containing videos, music, artwork, websites, full concerts, playlists, old merchandise, webcasts and other assorted ephemera. The band has named it the “Radiohead Public Library” (https://www.radiohead.com/library/) and you can even create your very own printable library card if you fancy it. No longer do you have to hunt down old videos on YouTube or buy rare items on eBay. The Radiohead Public Library is now the go to destination for all your Radiohead needs. The collection naturally begins in 1993 with debut album Pablo Honey and travels all the way up to 2016’s magnificent LP A Moon Shaped Pool. Everything in between is an odyssey like voyage with countless jumping off points to get lost in for hours upon hours. Not everyone has the time to explore everything the band has just gifted us. That could take weeks, maybe even months to properly unpack. If you are looking for some of the very best bits from this massive archive, I’ve constructed a list of library highlights. Sadly there is no MTV Beach House from 1993. I suspect this list will need to be updated as time passes and future discoveries are made. The band themselves have even added to the library two different times since its launch. I suspect this will remain the case, especially with the looming announcement of a 20th Anniversary boxset for Kid A this coming October. That day can’t come soon enough. The Kid A section is surprisingly………….skimpy. Wink wink. A treasure trove awaits folks.
Live at the Astoria
27 May 1994
A setlist featuring many throwback cuts that have been missing in action for decades at this point: “Bones”, “Ripcord”, “Blackstar”, “Maquiladora”, “Vegetable” and “Pop Is Dead”. The evening ends with a killer version of “Blow Out” with an absolute guitar shredding hurricane of fury by Thom, Jonny and Ed. A real highlight.
MTV’s Most Wanted
05 October 1994
Thom and Jonny performed stripped back versions of Pablo Honey’s “You” and the newly written “My Iron Lung” which would later appear on The Bends in 1995.
MTV’s Most Wanted
18 August 1995
Radiohead cover Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” which was the James Bond theme from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. Thom once proclaimed the Bond theme to be “Sexiest song that was ever written”. Also performed on the night was “Just”.
W.A.S.T.E. Newsletters Volumes 1-16
A collection of hilarious band newsletters between 1993 and early 1997 with interesting antidotes from the road including a trip to Thailand’s red light district, Jonny DJing on Mexican FM radio, Ed and Colin appearing on KROQ’s radio show Lovelines, learning that Thom’s favorite film is My Cousin Vinny, Phil’s sugar addiction and music they were consuming while on tour: R.E.M., Black Grape, Tricky, Ennio Morricone, Beck and Teenage Fanclub.
Tibetan Freedom Concert
Radiohead take to the stage to play an 8 song setlist that would feature R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe joining the band to perform lead vocals during “Lucky”. It is also pretty clear the band were really into parachute pants during the summer of 1998. Strange days indeed.
Amateur Night II
One of Radiohead’s earliest innovative webcast streams. This one taking place during the recording of the band’s upcoming album Kid A. The real treat of this web show was an early demo of “There There” which features different lyrics from the version found on Hail To The Thief and rocks much much harder at almost 7 minutes in length. Hopefully more stuff like this appears on the pending Kid A boxset due out this October.
Live from a Tent In Dublin
07 October 2000
Radiohead would initially promote their newest album Kid A by performing a series of concerts with a carnival like atmosphere housed in a traveling Big Top tent complete with Victorian era ticketing. A very cool and unique idea. I also wish Radiohead would resurrect “Motion Picture Soundtrack” for future tours.
EMI & CANAL + present Kid A : Amnesiac In Paris
28 April 2001
A mashup TV appearance of tracks from both Kid A and Amnesiac. The night would conclude with a thrashing cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl”. Definitely a performance worth checking out. Despite taking a deep plunge into electronic music Radiohead still prove they are the mightiest guitar band in all the land when they want to be.
Later Presents… Radiohead
The calling card for this Jools Holland appearance is New Orleans jazz funeral tune “Life In A Glasshouse” which to my knowledge is the only time the band performed the track in a live setting. Radiohead are even backed by the Humphrey Lyttelton Band who performed the track on Amnesiac.
The Gorge, Washington
About 35 minutes into this Kid A/Amnesiac tour stop in the state of Washington fans are treated to a new unreleased song called “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses”. This would later be known as the first incarnation of future In Rainbows track “Reckoner”.
Beacon Theatre, NYC
05 June 2003
Part of the now defunct MTV $2 Bill Concert Series, Radiohead would take to the stage to preview material from their new album Hail To The Thief. Best of the bunch would be the acoustic rendition of “True Love Waits” to end the show. It would still be another 13 years before an official studio version was released. I think I love every single version of this song.
A legendary concert performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. I think this gig still holds the title for longest ever Radiohead concert at nearly 2 and a half hours and 28 songs. Radiohead spent most of that early summer road testing new material across North America that would eventually materialize on their 7th LP In Rainbows in October 2007. The band would play 6 unreleased songs on the night: “15 Step”, “Weird Fishes”, “Videotape”, “Nude”, “Bodysnatchers” and “House of Cards”. For my money the best ever version of “Videotape” (35 min mark) was performed at this show. The band would later strip back the tune to its most basic elements but prior to that it was a proper rock-rave up. Hopefully a future anniversary edition of In Rainbows will gift us a studio version of this incarnation of “Videotape”.
Another famous Radiohead webcast. The best part of this evening’s broadcast were the three awesome cover songs. The first being The Smiths’ “The Headmaster Ritual”, the second New Order’s “Ceremony” and lastly Bjork’s “Unravel”. Also played were “Bodysnatchers”, “Faust Arp”, “Reckoner” and “I Might Be Wrong”.
93 Feet East
16 January 2008
Radiohead would delight 200 fans at a small intimate club show that saw the band play their new album In Rainbows from top to bottom plus an encore of old faithfuls and a solo acoustic version of “Up On A Ladder”. This might be the smallest show the band has performed in over 20 years. Wish they would do more of this type of stuff. Granted scoring tickets would be next to impossible.
Later… With Jools Holland
28 January 2008
Possibly my favorite track from In Rainbows. This performance of “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” is outstanding. Not just from the band who is on point the entire time but also the way the director cut his cameras to show all the best aspects of the band at the right moments.
The Colbert Report
26 September 2011
Radiohead did very little promotion for their 8th album The King of Limbs in 2011. Just a handful of stops ranging from Glastonbury, Saturday Night Live, Roseland Ballroom and The Colbert Report. This performance is an extended set from what was seen on the main broadcast that night (“Morning Mr. Magpie”). The band would also play “The Daily Mail”, “Bloom”, “Little By Little” and “The National Anthem”. As the From The Basement session from December 2011 would also prove, the material found on The King of Limbs really transcends to another level of excellence when performed live compared to the final studio versions.
Jonny, Thom & a CR78: Present Tense and The Numbers
This is the closest Radiohead came to giving the fans a From The Basement type release from A Moon Shaped Pool. It would be just Thom, Jonny and a drum machine sitting around a campfire in the Hollywood Hills while being directed by filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. I kind of wish they did a third tune for this series with Paul Thomas Anderson like a “Desert Island Disk” or even “True Love Waits”. There are so many beautiful tracks off A Moon Shaped Pool. I want to see them all shine in different presentations.