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In Rainbows

4.4 out of 5 stars 549 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 28, 2007
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Product Description

2008 release, the seventh studio album from the acclaimed UK Art Rock/Britpop band fronted by the enigmatic Thom Yorke. Notoriously released as a download-only album on the band's internet site in late 2007, the physical copy of In Rainbows proves to sound more powerful and atmospheric than the compressed mp3 version of the album. 10 tracks including 'Bodysnatchers', 'All I Need' and 'House Of Cards'.

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On the deliriously satisfying In Rainbows, Radiohead returns to a more straight-ahead (though subdued) rock sound. Much hubbub has been made about this record's innovative release. Radiohead allowed fans to pay what they wished to download fairly low-resolution tracks from the band's own website. Like so many innovations, it already seems funny both that it was such big news and that someone else of similar stature hadn't done it sooner. Some pundits were appalled that it took awhile to download the tracks if you tried to do it at the same time as thousands of other people, while others decried that the group was trying to kill the music industry (or save it). Little of the press seemed to focus on the record itself, which actually made sense because it was so entertaining and inviting, the most low-key album Radiohead has made to date. There's even a very straight-forward, simple, silly little love song, "House of Cards." It might be a bit lethargic, but the simple instrumentation of electric guitars, bass, and drums is lovely as heck. A handful of these tunes enchanted fans for years before finally being committed to computer "tape." This is particularly fitting as In Rainbows is the group's most "band"-sounding album since OK Computer. This is not a record that hits you over the head with how far this group is pushing the envelope; it's simply a phenomenal, well-crafted, and exciting album. As soon as it's done, you're playing it again. --Mike McGonigal
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 28, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: TBD Records
  • ASIN: B000YXMMAE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (549 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,371 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Could Radiohead's seventh album have come at a more appropriate time? Arriving on the heels of the major labels' ugly jury trial victory against a file-sharer (Jammie Thomas from Brainerd, Minn., was fined $222,000 for sharing 24 songs), In Rainbows is poised to drive a large nail in the RIAA's coffin and begin the "Industry vs. Internet" discussions anew. "It used to be just [having a release] on a major label was a source of prestige and status," said Danny Goldberg, former CEO of Warner Bros. Records and Mercury Records. But that was before Napster, blogs, Myspace, esteemed indie labels, album leaks, YouTube and Tower Records' Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Slowly but surely, the industry-induced barrier between music and listeners continues to erode.

When Radiohead asked fans to name their own price for the download-only version of In Rainbows (£0 was an option), I initially interpreted it as a moral conundrum, a test to see how much they would pay for something they could buy on CD for $18.95. Yet that tiny but powerful phrase on the order screen, "It's up to you," seemed only to be the band's way of lowering the aforementioned barrier by placing control in the customers' hands, and another means of connecting with the millions of people who connect so strongly with them.

In Rainbows is bound to resonate with listeners, but not in the way you'd expect. It's warm and inviting, densely layered even at a crawl, and surprisingly mellifluous. It isn't that Radiohead veers away from the function they've served since OK Computer (inverting their internalized anxiety with tropes and imagery), they've just found prettier ways to do it, and fans that have already heard the record consistently speak about the music above all else.
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Format: Audio CD
At a certain point, a marvelous band will get a reputation so overwhelming, it's simply not possible for them to keep topping themselves.

And from the sound of "In Rainbows," Radiohead has decided not to let their reputation loom over them -- and I'm not just talking about the online digital release. In their latest album, they reinvent their bittersweet pop sound -- they lose some of the trappings of their past work, in favour of warmer, more intimate melodies and traditional instrumentation.

It opens on an angular note with "15 Steps," which is built around a jagged riff.The first couple minutes are full of fuzzy synth stabs and sharp drums, sounding like a jazz number that's being eaten by a computer. "How come I end up where I started?/How come I end up where I went wrong?" Thom Yorke sings mournfully. "You reel me out then you cut the string..."

But then the guitars slide in and twine through the song, softening it into something very different. The scratchy synth beats and subtle guitar start building to a slow crescendo, staying energetic and almost reggae-esque right to the end.

See it as kind of a transition song for Radiohead; they're easing listeners into their new acoustic sound, rather than just dropping us in. But after that, they pretty much leave the "Kid A" territory behind them -- "Bodysnatchers" is an intense rocker brimming with chunky riffs and softly ringing guitars. It's a gorgeous piece.

After that, the songs gently slip down into more introspective territory -- smooth, dark pop songs wrapped in a heavy blanket of fluid strings and subtle slide guitar. Some of these are dressed up in thick guitars and clattery drums.
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Format: Audio CD
For the concept (which I'm sure will be imitated slavishly) of releasing mp3's for download and bypassing the music industry, Radiohead are geniuses but that's been talked to death already by everyone so let's focus on the album. "In Rainbows" with its glitchcore/hiphop backings to its quasi anthemic songs is certainly a return to the sound of "Kid A" though nowhere near the wild experimentation of it. However, "In Rainbows" is certainly a more focused album than the great but uneven "Hail to the Thief" and thus could be entitled a return to form. Is is stylistically groundbreaking? No. Is it the first purchase you'd make if you are new to Radiohead? No but you probably own "Ok Computer" and "Kid A" already and want to hear their new album so buy it anyway. From what I can see Radiohead are not going to be breaking any trends musically from now (conceptually with marketing yes but as I said that's been discussed) so as a fellow reviewer of mine (give credit where its do)has implied with each new Sonic Youth album, you know you're a getting a Sonic Youth album (though there is certainly more stylistic variation in their recent albums than Radiohead) but you're getting a solid product musically. The same is true for "In Rainbows". If you've heard their previous albums, don't expect anything dramatic or new (for Radiohead that is) but expect a quality album, eminently listenable. Enough said.
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Format: Vinyl
I bought this product directly from W.A.S.T.E. while the regular album was being given away "for whatever price," which I think dampened public interest in it. I paid about $80 for it (40 pounds), and it was definitely worth the cost. The book is interesting, it's photographs of what looks like paint splashes on a black background, obviously done with an artistic eye. The vinyl is an excellent quality recording of the regular album. The bonus album is great, it is NOT, I repeat, NOT just "extra tracks" from the main album. I would characterize it as its own album, it has a flow and tempo and some excellent tracks, albeit just 8 tracks long. Last Flowers and 4 Minute Warning are my two favorite songs, Mk 1 and Mk2 are instrumentals put in not as "filler" as some people have written, but to maintain the flow and mood of the album and I think do very well in that role. I guess for the collectable nature of it, someone might pay $300 (as I see it advertised for sale), but as a piece of music, I would not have paid that much. If you just want the LP, I can see it for sale on amazon now for $19.99. As far as the bonus CD, I cannot find it on amazon or ebay, but I'm sure Radiohead will make it available at some point: it's not just a bonus EP, it's really like an entire album, and a pretty good one. I would think they would allow their fans to own that at some point.

The link to wikipedia article on the album which includes a track listing of the bonus album is here: [...]

The track listing on the bonus cd is as follows:

1. "MK 1" - 1:04
2. "Down Is the New Up" - 4:59
3. "Go Slowly" - 3:48
4. "MK 2" - 0:53
5. "Last Flowers" - 4:27
6. "Up on the Ladder" - 4:17
7. "Bangers + Mash" - 3:20
8. "4 Minute Warning" - 4:06
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