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Hail To The Thief
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:$18.98+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on March 9, 2013
After the blissful experience that is Kid A/Amnesiac I was actually happy to hear some rock music on their follow up to that period. Some have criticized this LP for being disjointed or feeling less cohesive than other Radiohead efforts. While I can see where they are coming from, this is still one of my favorite Radiohead albums. I actually don't think there is discontinuity on here. I read that the band felt they should have left a few songs off this record and shortened it up (specifically a video I saw with Ed and Colin and then a print interview with Thom). And yeah, I suppose that tunes like "We Suck Young Blood" don't resonate with me like "Scatterbrain." But I am happy they left this album long. I would hate to know which tunes they would have cut. "A Punch Up at a Wedding" might not have made the cut and that's one of my favorite songs on this record. I would even suggest that this is a good place for someone not familiar with the band's catalog to start. Think about it, you get every single style of music in this band's incredible range, and you get some phenomenal tunes like "Sail to the Moon" (personal favorite) and "2+2=5" along with "Myxomatosis," "Go To Sleep" and "The Gloaming." I mean what kind of world is not better with songs like "Sit Down, Stand Up" and "There, There?" Not to mention "Backdrifts," Where I end and You Begin" and "A Wolf at the Door." Wait, did I just list every song on this record? If not, "I Will." LOL. Geez, I gotta stop writing about this and just listen to it RIGHT NOW. :)
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on January 27, 2013
To start, I am reviewing the vinyl edition of this album and not just the music on the album itself. I own all the Radiohead albums on vinyl and must say that for those that are trying to be selective, this is a must buy! Whereas some of the earlier albums don't benefit as much from the vinyl treatment, this one is notably different from its digital version. If you need an example then look no further than the breakdown of 2+2=5! With the presence of the bass opened up on the vinyl, the tones of the bass and guitar during this breakdown in particular are superb! This section of the song was already exciting but on wax it hits like a truck! Other favorites of mine like Where I End And You Begin and Wolf At The Door also benefit from the warmth of a vinyl release. They sound much closer to you and your living room, and for the aforementioned songs and others like Sail To The Moon, this makes the songs much more effective at selling their emotion. Whereas on the digital version these songs might sound sparse, they sound intimate in their vinyl form and may convince you to change your mind if you were keeping any of them at arms length.
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on January 28, 2016
**This review is for the vinyl version.** I have read that many people received poor or even unlistenable pressings by Capitol. A friend told me to make sure I purchased the version with label listed as Parlophone, which I did (scroll down in the description of the record on the amazon product page to confirm.) I was concerned when I received it because the spine and the back of the cover show the album as being from Capitol -- but the record labels themselves show that it was pressed in the EU by Parlophone, and nowhere is Capitol listed. As it turns out, my pressing is pretty much perfect, and the sound is simply spectacular, one of the best pressings of any record I own, easily up to par with my mofi 45rpm pressings. While my rig isn't as high-end hifi as some folks, I can tell you it is no slouch and most definitely shows the weaknesses in poor quality vinyl pressings. Highly recommended.
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on March 23, 2016
This is a review about the Vinyl (not the album). Quite easily the worst pressed Vinyl that I've ever purchased. I'm trying to see if Amazon will allow me to return it. I got the Capitol pressed version and it is really really bad. Actually everything about it is substandard. From the torn sleeves (the records were likely just shoved in), to the tears on the labels in the center of the record, to the sheer amount of dust and lint on the records. Anyways, I suggest staying away from the vinyl version of what is a very good album. Left me very disappointed considering how much one pays for these.
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on June 29, 2003
Hail to the Thief can be most easily represented by a splicing of Radiohead's two more notable albums--Kid A and OK Computer. While both Amnesiac and Kid A often feel too experimental and brief, Hail to the Thief is gritty and listenable. Though the band does often give into experimentation, no entire song is devoted to (or wasted by) ambient background noise ("Treefingers"), robotic murmuring ("Kid A") or any other form of wacky musical adventure. However, the album is refreshing and unique, thanks to the presence of unconventional instruments, samples, song structure, lyrics, and of course, Thom Yorke's signature vocals. Here, they're more unpredictable, and less mainstream than on any of the band's earlier work. Expect to be genuinely surprised and satisfied by the variety and complexity of the material.
For the most part, Radiohead have departed from the lush, more wistful mood of "The Bends," into something much more cerebral and harrowing. Thankfully, this metamorphosis doesn't go nearly as far as in Amnesiac or Kid A, which means that you won't be skipping tracks, because all of these are "real" songs. And while electronic sound effects and other synthetic instrumentation are more present than on OK Computer, Radiohead have been moderate in their implication, and thus, refined their sound expertly. The electronic beats and blips can be used as a steady beat/baseline for a song such as in "Idioteque" ("Backdrifts"), used sparingly for a subtle effect ("Sit Down. Stand Up") or applied substantially to produce something unpredictable, yet amazing ("Myxomatosis").
Whatever the case, Hail to the Thief pleases on all levels, and I cannot imagine any Radiohead fan being disappointed by it. Though I doubt anyone will claim it as their new favorite, no one can sneer at the care taken in combining the multiple sounds which Radiohead have created for themselves in a masterful collection of melancholy and wonder.
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No band's creative peak lasts forever (cf. Beatles, Talking Heads, even the White Stripes). With The Bends, OKComputer, and Kid A, Radiohead had one of the longest, most successful, and emotionally satisfying such peaks in recent memory. With Amnesiac they climbed down from that peak, and Hail to the Thief does nothing to help them rescale it.
It's not the the songs are bad, by and large - neither were Amnesiac's - but the tracklisting is tired and the styles are a little too comfortable, a little too familiar. I don't mind much, because that peak was personally very disruptive and emotionally painful for the band.
However, it does irritate me, ever so slightly, that HTTT could have been just as good as the Bends if they had just thought it out better. Sure, it's the artist's prerequisite to present his art the way he or she desires, but there are a number of emotionally or rhythmically jarring segues on this album. For example, sandwiching the beautiful, lonely, but perhaps positive "Sail to the Moon" between the negative and exhausting "Sit Down. Stand Up." and the negative and fatalistic "Backdrifts" (all of which are excellent songs, even if SDSU is very repetitive) is inexplicable and totally ineffective for all three songs. Furthermore, SttM's place in the tracklisting is an awkward parody of the placing of "Pyramid Song" on Amnesiac and makes the similarities between the songs painfully obvious. Finally, ending the album with "Wolf at the Door" is unappealing and ineffective.
In addition to the neglect of careful tracklisting, HTTT suffers from a bloated tracklist and length (forty-five minutes is really a pretty ideal length for albums, as Kid A showed). There's one bad song on here: "Where I End and You Begin" is diffuse and focusless, has astoundingly bad 80s-sounding synths as the main instrument, and should have been left as a b-side or left unreleased. Other songs, such as "I Will" and "A Punchup at a Wedding" are really nice, but unsuited to the album as a whole. They'd be better off supplementing the 'There There' b-sides.
Finally, in an attempt to reduce the album to a reasonable length, the band cut some songs down. I Will suffers but survives the loss of guitar at the beginning and Punchup the loss of an intro. The Gloaming, however, is hurt worst by edits. It was easily one of the best songs on the leaked version, yet the album version is really quite bad. This is because the band cut both the intro and the whole second half of the song, awkwardly and carelessly splicing in the ending.
If you do buy this album (and it is worthwhile to do so), try ripping it and making your own 45-minute version. Odds are you'll be surprised at how nice it sounds. (FWIW, my tracklisting: 2+2=5, Sit Down Stand Up, Backdrifts, Go to Sleep, There There, Scatterbrain, We Suck Young Blood, Wolf at the Door, Myxamatosis, The Gloaming (prerelease version), and Sail to the Moon.)
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on September 30, 2004
All hail Radiohead. It took me a long time and a work like "Hail to the Thief," to come to that type statement. But what Radiohead has accomplished on this album earns them the critics darlings praise they have received all along. Their otherworldly ambient rock reaches a new level here.

Let me give you some background. If you read any of my other reviews on Radiohead you will find me attempting to write them off as overstated hype but recently I've been going back to "OK Computer," and "Amnesiac," and find myself drawn into the sound. I had always been willing to admit to Radiohead's sparks of originality but they seem to have drawn upon a chord of dislocation. So, though I had all but written the group off and let the critics have their way with hailing the group as rock's genius wonders to take music to the next level, for some reason I kept buying their albums and thinking...maybe if I listen hard I'll find it too. Well, "Hail to the Thief," has me convinced of Radiohead's ascendency and let me tell you why.

Though much has been said of the band returning to some rock roots with this album, on the whole I don't find that the case. They have blended some more traditional (at least as traditional as Radiohead gets) rock with their electronica experimented sound they explored on Amnesiac and Kid A. On the whole, there is plenty of spacey noises to go around and the beauty of it doesn't come off forced or un-musical as much electronica can. Instead it places Radiohead's soundscape deliciously detached, sublimely surreal. "We don't wanna wake the monster / Tiptoe round tie him down / We don't want the loonies taking over," sings Thomas Yorke on "Go to Sleep." And so it becomes a soundtrack to modern life in which we found ourselves deeply human swimming for air in a sea of unhumanizing technology. There is that fear of waking the monster that is always just at the edge of Radiohead's songs.

One thing that must be understood about "Hail to the Thief," is that it's not feel good music. It's not a total downer either. It has more of the tension and stress of a Bowie's Ziggy Stardust or Outside or Trent Reznor mixed with some finely skilled songcraft. It is music in a daze. It is London fog thick and isolating. It can be a perfect reflection of the modern condition.

Each song seems to have it's place and uniqueness. Some are split personalities between the drawn out high lonely croon of Yorke's falsetto and the driven beat. They are down right schizophrenic which of course makes them so interesting. "2+2=5," is the opening track and sets the tone for the rest of the album. A slight ticking keeps a nervous beat easing the listener into the eventual fury of, "It is too late now because you have not been paying attention." And then "Sit Down. Stand Up," weaves its way into a techno throb repeating raindrops, raindrops. "Backdrifts," is a standout dance club beat that eventually devolves into those space gun laser shooting sounds. Somehow it works. The album all comes together on "Where I End and You Begin," with a rolling bass driving the song along in classic Radiohead fashion. You will think the Beatles have modernized themselves with a lick from Taxman on "There There." That leads into the 1-2 punch with "A punchup at a Wedding," with a meandering guitar and piano duet that can leave you Saturday strip windows down rolling in the night 10 mph feeling the cool wash over you finger tapping on the side view mirror.

Radiohead has truly done it with "Hail to the Thief." Any of you other doubting Thomas that still exist don't be an indie poser any longer...leap into the bandwagon baby. This is the face of modern music. Thomas Yorke and crew have elevated themselves so far above the fray that the masses will be aghast at trying to figure out what the beautiful noise all means. Start scratching your head and tapping your toes. Join in my dear dislocated listener.

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on August 2, 2008
"Pablo Honey" spawned mega hit "Creep", skip some years down the road (and two albums) "Kid A" is released gone is the alternative rock sound. In return we got a electronic minimalist style. Compare and contrast their sound all you'd like, fact remains they are creative and entertaining. Knowing the bands intentions to change their dynamic highly layered music, one must be filled with anxiety...You really never know what to expect! Scrolling through a few more years after "Kid A" and the decent attempt "Amnesiac", "Hail to the Thief" emerges. "Hail to the Thief" is immersing, brooding (but not nearly as dark as past work, some songs are actually quite uplifting), and clever.

"2+2=5" is as complex a song, as it is to prove 2+2 actually equals five. The intro is simply a input jack from a guitar being tapped. Clouds of sound billow each song some slowly and some stormily fast. "Sit Down, Stand Up" has bridge that breaks the songs mold and speeds the whole process up.

Before my laptop dies (4 minutes left so little of time), my pick off the album is "Sail to the Moon". Such a beautiful song. I just had a surgery and listening to this as an ambiance playing a game or relaxing in a dark room really painted images in my mind.

Overall fantastic artsy album, easily their most assecible album to date. Easily worth a listen, congrats Radiohead.
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on October 21, 2012
Nobody mentioned Scatterbrain. It is a harrowing piece, Thom Yorke is wailing, giving voice to the the disillusioned and resigned.It is an eerie calm that surrounds us, we are in the eye of the storm. The effect of his voice and the guitar is anguishing, it is just so beautiful and sad. This is way past 1984, the machine won, everybody is scatterbrain! And if you are the last one "Somewhere I'm not", there is nothing you can do.
I don't understand how people classify Radiohead, this is the best album, this is second, etc.
How do you classify masterpieces? Is Beethoven's 5th better than the 9th? Or Guernica better than The Old Guitarist?
I can't do that. kid A, In Rainbows, this, Amneziac, how can I pick, why would I?
I' m just going to mention the other masterpiece of the album in my opinion, Where I End and You Begin - there is nothing like it- bone chilling, fast, tense, with some amazing guitar strokes, it is one of my all time favorites.
How can you define an album that contains these two pieces?
This is an album about the war in Iraq. The allusions are clear but the music withstands the historical limitations, this becomes an album about any war and alienation. Yes, The Final Cut comes to mind but the music in this one is so much more complex, diverse and intriguing ( in a word: beautiful!) that it will sure lure in more than this generation.
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HALL OF FAMEon July 6, 2003
Radiohead's most recent production is all you have heard about it and more. How else could a new album have gathered over 300 reviews in less than two weeks after its release? The only possible answer is: we are in front of another classic. Just like some of the band's previous works, it takes time to build on you, but once it grabs you, it doesn't let go: it's addicting. The album has a lot to offer, ranging from very mellow, downbeat melodies all the way to tracks that come with a dose of rage for you to let go of it all. The opening track literally takes the listener on a roller coaster ride, with an unsuspecting intro that leads into vertigo-packed ups and downs, and what feels like a leap into the void, to close out the song... "Sit down", a very aptly named second song follows suit, with a similar structure, gradually progressing from an eerie and almost silent background to a complete chaos that leads in very nicely into a song filled with peace: "Sail to the Moon". If there is a place where the band resembles Pink Floyd (like some people say) in this album, this is it... I can totally picture myself rowing inside a boat on my way to the moon when I listen to this song (no, I am not on drugs as I write this -don't ask me why I wrote that). I highly recommend to play it while on the road, at night, with your car windows down, on a starry night -Lovely!
After a much deserved rest provided by track three, the band takes you on a new trip that resembles more the type of music you heard them produce around their two most recent works, 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' -more electronic beats serving as a background for Yorke's incredible voice and lyrics. And so "Backdrifts" goes... and comes back to a tune initially acoustic-guitar driven that evolves into the classic Radiohead sound ("Go to Sleep"): Get the picture by now? These guys are on a royal demonstration on this album: it sure is standing some place between what they did on 'OK Computer' and 'Kid A' but it is way more. "Where I End and You Begin" again takes the user into an 'Amnesiac'-type atmosphere, leading further into the dark corners of the album with "We suck Young Blood" and the electronic-driven "The Gloaming" sitting there as guardians of that dark forest of sounds.
Out of the woods, the band comes playing a 'merrier' "There there", followed by a rather brief yet powerful guitar-driven tune filled with sadness ("I will"). "A Punchup at a Wedding", a generally downbeat song, is very accessible and could become the commercial hit of the album without too much trouble. As far as "Myxomatosis" goes (a song named after a highly lethal disease affecting rabbits), to this day still I have a hard time dealing with it: it is the one song in the album I could live without. Ironic that it would be followed by "Scatterbrain", my favorite: a tune capable of stirring up emotions left and right and making you cry without you noticing it. Closing the album is "A Wolf at the Door", a very special song that sounds like the background music to a Tarantino violent scene... yet doesn't have any of its violence, but a rather amusing quality.
As a final note (a little gift for those of you who read all through the entire review), take a peek at the updated Radiohead web site...... Navigate to the album and enjoy!
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