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Music: 5 Stars... Compilation: 4 Stars

When Radiohead decided with the "In Rainbows" album not to re-up with EMI, it was only a matter of time before the label would squeeze a few more drops out of the money machine that Radiohead was for EMI. The label simply had to find a good time and excuse to do so, and that time has come (new tour!). The band has made clear that it has nothing to do with this "best of", all the while also acknowledging that EMI has the legal right to do this. Now the question is: is this compilation any good?

"The Best of Radiohead" (17 tracks; 76 min.) not surprisingly focuses on tracks from three albums: a whopping 6 tracks from 1995's commercial breakthrough album "The Bends", including the singles Just, My Iron Lung, High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Street Spirit (Fade Out) and also the fabulous title tracks. 1997's "OK Computer" album, viewed by many as one of the most important albums of the 90s, gets 4 tracks, including the singles Paranoid Android, Karma Police, No surprises, and also Lucky. 2000's "Kid A" gets 3 tracks: Optimistic, Idioteque, and Everything In Its Right Place. With that, 75% of this "best of" compilation is filled. The remaining 3 studio albums get a mere 4 tracks: the monster hit Creep from 1993's "Pablo Honey"; Pyramid Song from 2001's "Amnesiac; and finally There There and 2+2=5 from 2004's "Hail to the Thief".

In all, it is difficult to argue with that selection. Only 2 singles did not make in on here (Knives Out from "Amnesiac" and Go to Sleep from "Hail to the Thief", but this is not "The Singles of Radiohead". I will say that I am not crazy with the sequencing of the album (notice that the 3 tracks from "Kid A" are buried in the second half). But all in all, EMI actually did make a pretty good job of it, imagine that! For anyone not all that familiar with Radiohead, this is a great place to start. If you are wondering whether to buy this, or instead the 2CD "Special Edition" (which comes with an additional 13 songs on a second CD), I'd recommend to buy this single CD compilation. If you like what you hear, the next step is to explore the individual studio albums of Radiohead.
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on June 5, 2008
Each of these songs is fantastic, so if you're the kind of person who would like to be able to say that you've "heard" Radiohead, this purchase will be ok. You will at least have 17 great songs that you didn't have before. On the other hand, if you listen to the samples and notice that you like what you hear, you might be interested in knowing that Radiohead now have seven whole albums of songs at least as good as what's presented here.

You should also know that each of their albums is a fairly cohesive work, and is best taken as a whole. So, even if you're not looking to buy seven disks straight up (which is still a great idea if you like what you hear), I think you'd do better to buy one of the complete albums rather than this collection.

Pablo Honey is their first and easily their weakest album, but is still fairly good (and yes, it has "Creep" on it). If you're looking to just satisfy your curiosity about this Radiohead that you keep hearing about (and I'm sorry about that; Radiohead fans can be a rabid bunch), then buy OK Computer. I guarantee you that having one complete album with 12 tracks is better than having this collection of 17. Once you have OK Computer and you want more, you can either go to Kid A and Amnesiac for more weird and electronic, or to The Bends for less weird.

Once you've done that, if you realize that you would still be interested in more (and I hope you are), you might as well just order Pablo Honey, Hail to the Thief, and In Rainbows in one shipment, giving yourself about a week to listen to each of the last two.

I hope that's helpful. Enjoy!
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on September 30, 2008
If you are a true Radiohead fan, then you won't need this album. But if you are a beginner, then buying this compilation would give you a good feel of what the band is made of. Given the full spectrum of their sounds, you get a chance to experience the many stages of what the band has been able to put together over the years. IF you already own many of the albums, don't waste your money. There is nothing new here.
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on March 19, 2014
This album provides a nice overview of what Radiohead has done, with its chart-topping singles included. If you want a general overview, as one would expect from a Best Of album, this will do you well. I'm not versed in Radiohead to the extent that I would criticize the inclusion of exclusion of any particular song, but this album seems to have a number of successes.
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on December 26, 2015
**Review originally posted at https://midnighttosix.wordpress.com

Whenever a band builds up a large body of work, there’s going to be a Greatest Hits/Best Of/Anthology type of release to cater to casual music consumers. It’s a standard industry practice. However, Radiohead are not a standard band. They’ve repeatedly followed their own path; one that’s light years ahead of everyone else in terms of innovation and integrity. Their recordings are treated more like a rare and delicate gem than a commodity for crass consumerism, which is what makes this Best Of album so disappointing. Radiohead isn’t a singles band, but even if you did want to get a collection that covers a large swath of their pre-In Rainbows music, Capitol has made it a difficult and confusing decision by offering up a single-disc version, and limited edition double-disc versions, a quadruple vinyl version, and a digital version. This is total overkill, especially considering that none of them have any hard-to-find or unreleased material and the only selling point for the band’s ultra-rabid fan-base is that the Pablo Honey-era songs (easily their weakest) have been remastered. Shame on you Capitol. This is exactly the type of short-sighted thinking that drove Radiohead to leave the major labels behind and let the fans choose what they wanted to pay.

Radiohead 1, Music Industry 0

A better option is the Best Of DVD collecting the band’s pre-In Rainbows videos and a live performance of “2+2=5”. Radiohead’s visionary attitude towards music spills over into their videos, with many ranking among the best the art-form has to offer. The band’s best-loved videos, for songs like the animated clip for “Paranoid Android”, Michel Gondry’s surreal work on “Knives Out” and the brilliant mystery of “Just” (this one will have you scratching your head for days) and the band’s lesser-seen videos (which are lesser-seen only because there are no music video networks anymore) like “Sit Down Stand Up”, “Push Pulk/Like Spinning Plates” and “Pyramid Song” are all brilliant pieces of art and essential viewing. If brilliance isn’t your thing, you can always get a good laugh at Thom Yorke’s bad dye job, hair extensions and awkward post-grunge posturing on the early videos for “Anyone Can Play Guitar”, “Pop Is Dead” and “Stop Whispering”.
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on September 1, 2015
The two-star rating is not a slight against Radiohead or the quality of the music itself. Judged solely on the music, this would deserve five stars no question, but as a collection of "Radiohead's Greatest Hits" the album is full of glaring shortcomings.

Firstly, this album is something cobbled together by the record label, not the band. Radiohead themselves have made it clear that this was purely a cash-cow exercise and not something that they themselves supported or were involved in.

Secondly, the songs are thrown together seemingly at random, with no regard for chronology or flow. Radiohead progressed very quickly from the alt-rock of 'Creep', spanning everything from anthemic rock to unsettling electronic soundscapes, and every album had its own unique style and feel. For this reason, those new to Radiohead are best served by starting at 'Pablo Honey' and listening to each album in full and in chronological order. 'Best of...' strips the songs of this context, and gives no indication of the band's musical development over time. In doing so, it reduces Radiohead's carefully constructed masterpieces to just a bunch of individual songs.

Thirdly, while songs like 'Creep' got mainstream airplay, and the band has maintained a significant cultural presence, Radiohead are not really a band that has "casual" fans. And any half-serious fan would have all the studio albums already. So who is this album supposed to be for?

It's a pity really, because the music itself clearly demonstrates why Radiohead were held in such high regard. They effortlessly switch from rock to electronica, from sparse minimalism to dense layered textures, from accessible to self-consciously difficult. Everyone from IDM nerds to the grunge crowd will find something to like in Radiohead's back catalogue.

But.....don't bother starting here. A half-hearted collection assembled by the record company is NOT the way to introduce yourself to Radiohead. You are far better off seeking out `Pablo Honey' and then working your way forwards through each complete studio album. Leave this one on the shelf.
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on June 17, 2013
This CD takes the best of Radiohead over the years the performed(up to 2003 which was their last album so far). They are planning on making another album the fall of 2013 but this collection takes many of their best songs and compiles them into one album.
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on September 25, 2014
Whether Radiohead wanted this greatest hits album to be released or not, this is a very good overview of their career through their time signed with EMI. Of course, like all greatest hits albums there are tracks that would've been nice to be included. However, I do feel like this album shows you the songs that made Radiohead stand out among the Alternative Rock scene. If your a huge fan of Radiohead then this record may make you feel left short and craving more. If your a casual fan and all you want is what you hear on the radio then this is the record for you as it contains their most successful songs.
There is really nothing wrong with this album than the fact that the way the tracks are put in order makes the record feel all over the place when it comes to sound. Radiohead is not afraid of experimentation and a lot of their material changes in sound. On this album you'll listen to a rock driven song like "Creep" and "High & Dry" and then hear a complete twist in sound when you listen to "Everything In Its Right Place" with its full on electronic driven sound. It would've made more sense to put their earlier material first then have the later material after to show the transition of the band from more of a rock driven band to a electronic driven band that they really are now.
Overall, I thought the record is well put and has all of their so-called hits.
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on June 4, 2008
First off, let me say that I am somewhat obsessed with Radiohead - they're my favorite band other than the Beatles, and easily the best group currently making music. So when I first learned of a Radiohead compilation, I almost flew into a "Pacifist's rampage". That is, I almost threw assorted harmless objects such as cloth napkins and pillowcases within a five-inch radius in an otherwise empty room. But then I calmed myself down, and realized that this is a great intro to a fantastic band. See, the thing about Radiohead is that a compilation actually works for them. Their albums (particularly the Bends, OK Computer, Kid A and In Rainbows, though they have yet to disappoint me) are all very good, or at least have very good moments, and they've never made a bad one. But their best songs make perfect sense out of album context (other than "Treefingers", a brief instrumental that serves no purpose other than to link the first and second halves of the album). So they're not like Pink Floyd, whose albums you have to hear entirely in order to get where they're going. Nor are they the Beatles (the greatest band ever, by the way) who have too many hits, famous songs, and whatnot, to fit on four CD's.
So, basically, the casual Radiohead fan should just go for it. It contains all of Radiohead's most significant hits not found on In Rainbows, after all - "Creep", "High and Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees", "Just", "Paranoid Android", "Karma Police", "No Surprises", "Lucky", "Optimistic", "Pyramid Song", "There There" and so forth; and a few album tracks, too! I have to give them the thumbs-up for including "The Bends", which rocks like hell, and the apocalyptic techno "Idioteque", a fan favorite.
I don't know what else to say, really. If you're new to Radiohead, and just want all the hits on one disc, scoop it up. But be warned: this group can be addicting.
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on February 16, 2015
This release is best enjoyed on vinyl. It is a nice compliment to the full albums because of the track order. Pretty random but works really well. A bit like a mix tape you might make for a friend. The audio quality is amazing and worth every penny if you love listening to vinyl. I own all of the Deluxe CD editions (which are also amazing because of the extras and the superior sound quality) but I find myself listening to the vinyl Best Of box the most.
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