The more I think about it, Radiohead probably released The King Of Limbs about three months too early. At the time it came out, I was incredibly happy to hear the music and loved the songs on it — the new direction towards groovier, more electronic-based dubstep songs felt organic and a natural evolution. No one is making music quite like Radiohead.
But, if I had one complaint about the the album — and this is a minor one I should say — it’s that to me did seem about two songs too short. At 35 minutes, it was spare and just as the album really started connecting and climaxing, it was over. Like I said, great songs, just maybe not enough.
Since the album’s release in February, the band released a special 12″ double single “Supercollider/The Butcher” for Record Store Day and eventually gave those songs away for free for those who bought the record. Those songs would have been perfect if sequenced within the full length. Now comes “Staircase,” a new song premiering as part of a Nigel Godrich’s video performance series From The Basement. (BBC will air a 55-minute broadcast of The King Of Limbs: Live From The Basement in which the band will be performing the entire album plus apparently a few other songs, including this one.)
The song is predictably great, but it also sounds like it would’ve sat nicely next to the songs on The King Of Limbs.
With a mix of electronic and acoustic drumming (two drummers!, in this case Clive Deamer joins for the song), some intricate guitar work, a peculiar chord progressions and a sturdy throbbing bass groove propelling the vamp, there’s a lot going on under this very danceable song. “Staircase” easily could have been a highlight on The King Of Limbs.
I’m loving this song, but I wonder if the valid arguments against Radiohead’s album length might’ve been cut down if they had included this and the other two songs way back in February. A band like Radiohead has earned every right to put out whatever they think is their best piece of work. But as consumers, music buyers — of which there are fewer and fewer of them these days — want to feel like they received something special and got a good value for their money. Otherwise, they’ll continue on downloading mp3’s for free. In that regard, it’s understandable that some thought this album didn’t deliver.
But all of this is just a side note to the fact that this song is really awesome and I wish it was on the album proper. Just a thought.
UPDATE (7/9): Radiohead has debuted another new song — this time it’s another video performance that’s leaked from the From The Basement session: “The Daily Mail.” Radiohead also played this live at their surprise appearance at Glastonbury a few weeks back.
This song is great too… man if they had just included these four on the damn album. I hope this and “Staircase” are released as another single/B-side soon. Check it out here: