|Cuttooth||This song was leaked on French radio around the time Amnesiac came out. It apparently was to be track 9 on the album (which explains why the DJ announced it as "Hunting Bears"). A promoter gave this copy of the album with the unapproved running order to the station, who subsequently debuted many album cuts before the album promo was out. "Cuttooth" is a song the band spent a lot of time recording. It is lengthy and experimental, featuring a Roland synth-guitar. It also features Jonny's feedback drenched guitar, which plays backwards at one point. The band did a few recordings of it with some good results. The song originally clocked in at 8:30 in length, meaning the official version skipped the first 3 minutes (it sounds like it fades in). A new studio engineer named Graham who specializes in tape editing and spliced alternate takes of songs like "Cuttooth" together. Very complicated, but often rewarding process. The band reached a point where they are content with the song and did not wish to bring it down by adding additional sounds or parts. If they did, it would be "overcooked". The biggest influence on this song is definitely Neu!.|
|Dollars & Cents||From an interview
with The Wire magazine: Another model was Holger
Czukay [Can bassist]'s jam/slice/splice productions for Can. "Dollars
& Cents", one of Amnesiac's highlights, was edited down from an 11
minute improvisation. "It was incredibly boring," laughs Yorke, "but it's
that Holger thing of chop-chop-chop, making what seems like drivel into
something coherent." Then orchestral strings--arranged by Greenwood and
recorded in Dorchester Abbey--"were added to give it a sort of authority".
Straight from Ed's diary: "'Dollars And Cents' is a track that originated out of a 'jam' from Copenhagen - it's good but because there was no arrangement, no musical decisions could be made on it.........well now it has an arrangement.....Thom did some backing vocals and a bit of guitar, Jonny put his string arrangement on, I did a little Moog and the song is really going somewhere."
Colin in this song sampled Alice Coltrane and played over it. Coltrane had different sorts of techniques involving percussion from organic instruments like tambourines, bells, harps, and other instruments of chaos and bravado.
Opinion: The live version before Amnesiac came out reminded me a lot of Air's "La Femme d'Argent" from Moon Safari.
|Everything In Its Right Place||This was the song that catalyzed all the rest. It was actually done by Nigel and Thom with keyboards and ProTools. In case you think the lyrics are meaningless, this is from the 2001 Rolling Stone cover story: "Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon." "Lots of people say that song is gibberish," Yorke says irritably. "It's not. It's totally about that" - the mute, vengeful paralysis he felt in Birmingham, which stayed with Yorke deep into the strange, simultaneous recording of Radiohead's twin hits, Kid A and the just-released Amnesiac. In England, Yorke explains, "sucking a lemon" refers to "the face you pull because a lemon is so tart." He twists his sharp features into a ferocious grimace. "That's the face I had for three years." On the 2001 US summer tour, as an intro to the song Thom occasionally sung the opening lyrics to "If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next" by the Manic Street Preachers.|
|Fog||This song was played only once, under the name "Alligators In New York Sewers" (official lyrics). It was performed by Thom solo on piano.|
|How To Disappear Completely||The strings were conducted by John Lubbock, arranged by Jonny Greenwood, and performed by Orchestra of St. John's, Smith Square. The session went really well, with Jonny using a lot of his creative and unorthodox ideas. It was the "antithesis of the OK Computer experience". The 24 players were really into it, and it was recorded at an Abbey with great acoustics. Original full title was "How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found," after a book of the same name.|
|I Might Be Wrong||In an article/interview with Thom in Seventeen Magazine (oddly enough), the meaning of the lyrics is discussed and debated with 18 year old Californian kids and Thom reveals the vocals were done in one take.|
|Idioteque||Never mentioned during recording process. The song's organ sound is a sample from a 1975 Paul Lansky computer composition; to download it click here. The song is "an attempt to capture that exploding beat sound where you're at the club and the PA's so loud, you know it's doing damage" [interview with Thom].|
|In Limbo||Working title was "Lost At Sea/In Limbo". The ending is done with a software plug-in, but to keep the trick to themselves the band wouldn't say which one. A cool soundboard live version appears on an early Amnesiac promo released to select journalists in April 2001.|
|Kid A||The song was recorded fully on a computer by Thom; the band added some synthesizers. The lyrics, Thom says, are the most vicious he has ever written. On recording the vocals (and the lyrics) Thom said in an interview: "The lyrics are absolutely brutal and horrible and I wouldn't be able to sing them straight. But talking them and having them vocodered through Johnny's Ondes Martenot, so that I wasn't even responsible for the melody... that was great, it felt like you're not answering to this thing." An instrumental version runs during the credits for an episode of "The Sopranos."|
|Kinetic||Phil triggers samples with an electric drum kit.
Opinion: This should have been on an album. It's fantastic.
|Knives Out||It took them 373 days to record and mix the song according to Ed. They wrote it on acoustic guitar but kept being tempted to add more to it. Officially inspired by The Smiths. This was the first new song to debut; it was played on the first webcast on 12/9/99 (my birthday and the day I started this site).|
|Life In A Glass House||A five minute version of the song with an extended intro appears on the Knives Out EP. A biography of Humphrey Littleton, who, with his band, is featured on the song, can be found: here. According to Planet Telex, the original version "is a very delicate song, a bit of a cross between 'Exit Music' and 'Climbing Up The Walls', and it's about breaking up with your best friend." It featured Thom on acoustic guitar and Jonny on Rhodes. It's a song Jonny wrote while on the '96 tour. It was recorded for OK Computer, but that version was not found favorable by the band. A section of it can be seen and heard in a soundcheck performance in the Radiohead documentary.|
|Like Spinning Plates||The song's name derives from the "spinning plates" (reels) of hours of unreleased jams and unfinished music. Thom learned to sing the lyrics backwards and recorded it that way, then reversed it on a computer. It is built around the backing track for "I Will" (see unreleased song notes). Almost inspired them to release this sort of music under a different name but they decided that was a cop-out. Jonny's favorite. The song is played live on piano, backed up by bass and keyboard.|
|Morning Bell||Drums arranged by Thom and Nigel. Nigel did Pro Tools work on some "gibberish" Ed played for the song. If you've seen the band perform the song live you probably know what part Nigel is referring to. This song was demo'd by Thom in his empty, new house on a mini-disc along with a bunch of other good songs. Unfortunately a "ghost" erased all of the songs overnight and he soon forgot them. Six months later, coming home on a plane from Japan, he remembered "Morning Bell" completely. The song is about the empty house, kind of. The ghost has since left the house.|
|Motion Picture Soundtrack||This song made its acoustic debut a year before OK Computer was released on my local rock station, Washington, DC's 99.1 WHFS, specifically the program "Just Passin' Thru" where Thom played 5 songs solo. This was one of Nigel's favorites in the studio. At one point in the recording process there was a drum machine loop, increased rhythm, and guitar & keyboard solos. It turns out that The Bends producer John Leckie wanted them to record this "crazy song" for the aforementioned album. It didn't make the cut for The Bends or its followup, and through the years the song evolved with the band into its current Kid A configuration. Supposedly the song was written way back in 1987.|
|The National Anthem||The song was once called simply "Everything", and later "Everyone - The National Anthem". This was originally demo'd as a b-side to OK Computer, but the band liked it too much to include on the Airbag or No Surprises EP's. They kept the drums and bass parts from this late 1997 session; however, the meat of the song, such as the November '99 horns, was added in the two years they spent recording the song for Kid A. The instrument Jonny is plays is an Ondes Martenot, used to make the female vocal effect in the old Star Trek theme song. He studied the instrument (invented by French composer Messiaen) in school.|
|Optimistic||Inspired by PJ Harvey. It was to be the only radio promotional single and they were going to give stations a version with a "full and real ending" and remix it so the "weird side to side stereo effect" was removed. Huh??|
|Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box||Replaced the previously announced by Ed "Po Pad" as Amnesiac's
opener. According to this
interview with Colin: "The ‘kkkurrghh’ from Packt Like Sardines, that’s
from Thom’s laptop. We just compressed messed-up loops." Thom's 4/28/01
stage banter explained the song's origins: "It was written in a park, Place
des Vosges, in Paris. We don't stay there anymore. Pass the word. It was
written, watching old people, and children, there. The lyrics, anyway."
Unconfirmed: From 2:32-2:47 in the song, to me, it sounds like a midi version of the song "Kid A" is played. Whether it's the source file Thom created processed through another application or a fan recreation of the song is uncertain.
Opinion: The final title of the song reminds me of Godspeed You Black Emperor!
|Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors||This song "was made using an MC505 and some loops, together
with some other found loops that we made in St Catherine’s Court when we
were recording OK Computer. We set up these tape recorders and we disabled
the erase heads. We stuck the record head so it kept on recording over
and over on top of itself and played keyboard notes into it to create this
ghost repetition melody. So that’s on there too. It contrasts with the
standing in the middle of the fire electronic noise of the Roland box ‘kkkruuegh’.
We just pick these things up and try and use them and we don’t know how
they work." (interview
with Colin, 2001). From another
interview with Colin: "It's a sequence that Thom did on the drum machine,
basically, together with sounds that we were working on when we were doing
Computer, like piano and Rhodes put together with a really cool treated
vocal. It's a good combination of things there from several years of work.
That song is my favorite track, I think." One of the songs sampled in this
song is the 1996 studio recording of "True Love Waits". Thom on the 2001
MTV2 interview special explained the song's meaning. The lyrical analysis
that goes with this song is the doors scene in Alice In Wonderland.
Thom felt like for six months there were all these various doors in his
head. Colin's favorite.
Opinion: To me the title seems like a play on "Push/Pull". It's a pretty sophisticated and complicated play on words though. Instead of it being Push/Pull, the point is that it's Pull/Pull (like you have no choice). And then there's the intentional typo (L and K are next to each other on your keyboard).
|Pyramid Song||According to Thom on an MTV2 interview special, this song "literally took 5 minutes to write". It's about life being just one beautiful cycle. It was famously known as "Egyptian Song" for most of 2000. Debuted at the 1999 Tibetan Freedom Concert in Amsterdam. Thom played it on solo piano while Jonny looked at his feet. Fans named it "Nothing To Fear". One version of the song Thom plays bass. The band thinks it sounds like the latest Mark Hollis album. Thom and Ed think it's their best song ever recorded.|
|Transatlantic Drawl||Lyrics and references to the song appeared on this radiohead.com archive page.|
|Treefingers||The song is all sampled guitar according to Ed on a wallofsound.com interview. Thom arranged the guitar loops using Cubase. He recorded Ed playing guitar for about 10 minutes and then cut and pasted selections of it into his sampler and keyboard for distortion. Appears on the Memento soundtrack.|
|Worrywort||The people at the Hollywood & Vine Radiohead message board seem to think this was "Bombers/Neil Young *9" (see notes). Perhaps because "bombers" and "worrywort" are both mentioned on this page here. Some believe this song also went by the names "Say The Word" and "C-Minor Song".|
|You And Whose Army?||Ed's journal described this song as being too catchy
and sounding like the 1950's black female soul group The Inkspots. Ed sings
with a strange three part vocal technique suggested by Thom and Jonny.
A recent interview explained its sound in detail:
The muzzy vocal--which sounds like Morrissey sliding into a Temazepam coma--was an attempt to recapture the soft, warm, proto-doowop sound of 40s harmony group The Ink Spots. "We hired all these old ribbon microphones, but it didn't work because you need all the other gear, like the old tape recorders. So what we ended up using is an eggbox. And because it's on the vocal mic, and the whole band's playing at the same time, everything on the track goes through this eggbox."
Radiohead also used a device called the Palm Speaker on "You And Whose Army?", creating a halo of hazy reverberance around Yorke's vocal. "The Palm Speaker is something else that Monsieur Martenot invented, to go with the Ondes," explains Greenwood. "It's a bit like a harp with a speaker in the middle of it. The strings are tuned to all 12 semitones of an octave, and when you play a note in tune, it resonates that specific string and it creates this weird kind of echo that's only on those pitches."
The band in 1998 were once rumored to be working on one or two old demos from the Pablo Honey era. Another website once said that the album is to feature "choice OK Computer rejects and a few new tracks". Obviously this was not so. Supposedly OK Computer was meant to be a double album but Capitol, Radiohead's record company, was against the idea and thus the band was left with a ton of great extra tracks.
Also note: Radiohead re-recorded 4 songs ("National Anthem", "How To Disappear Completely", "Idioteque", "Everything In Its Right Place") in their home studio and BBC Radio 1's Evening Session with Steve Lamacq broadcased them in December. Click here (radioheadfans.com) to find the mp3's. Very good stuff.
on the "electronic session" (2 weeks in January 2000)
The band resumed recording their fourth album after a few weeks of holiday vacation. According to Ed's journal, the return to the studio was met with some hesitation to "plough back into the old tracks". To alleviate this, producer extraordinaire Nigel Godrich suggested that the band drop their traditional acoustic instruments (vocals, guitars, drums) and record solely with electronic gear for two weeks. They have added some new songs to the recording process and looked at other songs from a very different perspective. The band is having fun with the new experiment, and according to Ed they are working on "four [abstract] 'bits'", which I guess are four experimental music sections for possible inclusions with other songs.
Songs they worked on during this session: "Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses", "Bombers", "Innocents Civilian", "Dollars And Cents", "True Love Waits", "Neil Young *9/Bombers", "Cogs/Last Flowers Till The Hospital", "I Promise", "How To Disappear Completely", "Motion Picture Soundtrack"
-The band returned to the studio in 2001 to record new b-sides (like they did in 1998 for OK Computer, spawning "The National Anthem".)
-Thom, Jonny, and Colin often did drum editing during the recording process. Thom and Ed were also known to play bass. All of the musicians (with the possible exception of Phil?) switched their instruments around during the recording process.
-Jonny played the Ondes Martenot on most tracks on Kid A.
-Computer programs used: Logic Audio Pro (band's favorite), and Cubase.
-Thom on the sound of Amnesiac: "It goes off in two ways. One is like very broken machinery. The other is really fast and dark."
-My theory on Amnesiac (in February 2001, before it came out):
In other news, I think I've figured out Amnesiac. In an interview with the Mexican magazine Reforma, Colin said the album will be experimental and truly not "pop". He also added that that it will be the culmination of the work they've done between the making of OK Computer and Kid A. (In a different interview, he also noted that if you didn't like the last album, you will detest the new one.) Anyway, his comment on the material being central to the time between, and not after, the last two albums makes a lot of sense, considering the title and Ed's admission that it would have more traditional Radiohead elements. All of the songs (I theorize) will have been written between 1997-1999. The focus is being switched to songs that weren't written in the studio for Kid A. Thom had described it as being akin to Talking Heads' Remain In Light, where a lot of it was improvisational. Like they've said in recent interviews, Amnesiac will be about "remembering things."
-From Max K., owner of Planet Telex, mailed on 3/3/00:
The first confirmed news on LP number four is coming in...
The band have set themselves a deadline to finish recording LP four by the end of March. This means the release date will be around September, hopefully with a single preceding it.
From over 30 songs that they are working on, the band have got a shortlist of 16. These include : the 8.5 minute long Cuttooth, Egyptian Song, Dollars And Cents, Everyone (The National Anthem), Follow Me Around, How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, I Will, Keep the Wolf From the Door, Kinetic, Knives Out, Lost at Sea (In Limbo), Morning Bell, Motion Picture Soundtrack, Optimistic, True Love Waits, You And Whose Army
will not be a double album and the tracklisting is not confirmed, but
the band will be, over the coming weeks, deciding on which tracks to use
and trying to reduce it down further from 16 songs.
Look for an important announcement from the band to appear on the official site at http://www.radiohead.com/dont.html on Monday March 6th.