The King Of Limbs
Radiohead’s eight studio album The King Of Limbs was released on February 18th, 2011.
Produced by Nigel Godrich.
Tracklisting for The King Of Limbs (Click on song title for lyrics and audio)
The King of Limbs is the eighth studio album by English rock band Radiohead, produced by Nigel Godrich. It was self-released on 18 February 2011 as a download in MP3 and WAV formats. It was followed by a physical CD and 12″ vinyl release on 28 March, along with a wider digital release via AWAL, and a special “newspaper” edition on 9 May 2011. The name of the album possibly refers to an oak tree in Wiltshire‘s Savernake Forest, thought to be 1,000 years old. The physical album was released on the band’s Ticker Tape imprint by XL in the United Kingdom, TBD in the United States, and Hostess Entertainment in Japan.
Like 2003’s Hail to the Thief, The King of Limbs was recorded (at least partly) in Los Angeles, possibly at the home of actress Drew Barrymore, who is thanked in the album’s liner notes. The King of Limbs recording differed from the difficult In Rainbows sessions, which guitarist Ed O’Brien described as “such a slog. We decided at the end of the record never to do it like this again. That was kind of the end of Radiohead mark two.” Songwriter Thom Yorke echoed these sentiments: “None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again. Not straight off. I mean, it’s just become a real drag. It worked with In Rainbows because we had a real fixed idea about where we were going. But we’ve all said that we can’t possibly dive into that again. It’ll kill us.” In an October 2011 interview with NPR, Yorke said the band felt “if we are gonna carry on, we need to do it for a new set of reasons.”
In September 2010, drummer Phil Selway stated that the band had been recording “on and off for a year”, saying “the process of making In Rainbows — so much came about through what we were doing live — has been quite the opposite so far.” O’Brien told Rolling Stone: “We feel way more empowered in terms of our art and what we’re doing. We have been rehearsing for the last four weeks, for this new record. And we are in a very different place, a very new place. I don’t know if this is relevant, but I was talking with Philip three days ago about this. We were saying, ‘What’s different?’ And one of the things is we do things without fear… The thing that is different about In Rainbows is that it was an album from the heart. It was a lot warmer. And from what I’m making out in the rehearsal room now, there are still elements of that… I’m an eternal optimist, but I truly believe we can shift massively on this [next] record. That’s the thing we all know, that we feel in our bellies as we’re rehearsing– we’re on a big move here.”
In September 2011, Ed O’Brien said of the writing process: “[Thom] didn’t know how it was gonna be, so we made the songs jamming together, and he would bring lyrics or melodies […] Music came first, then the lyrics, and the melody came after. So we had blocks of music and then Thom would write a lead vocal line melody and lyrics to it.” In an interview with NPR on October 2011, O’Brien and Thom Yorke explained that The King of Limbs has its origins in initial sessions held in 2009, near the end of the In Rainbows tour. Producer Nigel Godrich introduced the band to a form of sampling which allowed them to physically trigger, through a turntable, digital recordings of music they had been working on. O’Brien said this period of experimentation lasted “about five weeks, and it was really like kids in kindergarten. You had to simplify what you were doing — you couldn’t do loads of ideas. You had to listen to one another. Believe it or not, in a band you can lose that.” Yorke said of the album’s composition: “Almost every tune is like a collage: things we’d pre-recorded, each of us, and then were flying at each other. You get to a point where you think, ‘OK, this bit needs a big black line through it.’ It’s like editing a film or something.” Rejecting the interviewer’s suggestion that The King of Limbs was “experimental music”, Yorke said the songs were a reflection of their learning and “stealing” from a wide range of music.
With eight tracks and just over 37 minutes of music, The King of Limbs is Radiohead’s shortest album. Appearing on a BBC radio sports show in April 2011, Ed O’Brien told a caller critical of the album’s length that Radiohead felt the ideal album was around 40 minutes long, and cited Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On as a classic record shorter than The King of Limbs. Cover artist Stanley Donwood said: “In Rainbows was very much a definitive statement, and that isn’t where the band are at the moment. Where they are now is more transitory. When a newspaper comes out, that doesn’t mean news stops, what you have is just a snapshot of how things were at the moment that newspaper was printed. And similarly, this album shows where Radiohead are at the moment the record was released. The music is a continuing thing. And we wanted to make the album representative of that.”
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