Monday, October 01, 2007

Houses of the UnHoly - Like Punk Rock Never Happened

Radiohead's last album "Hail to the Thief" was predicated on George W. Bush being a trickster and a huckster. Yet Radiohead themselves know a little about the old P.T. Barnum. No longer popular outside their large fan base, their new album, like Prince's is available for free (or nearly) as a download that you can "pay what you want" for. Yet, knowing their (ageing) fanbase might like the convenience of MP3, but also likes the physical touch of product, they've announced that "In Rainbows" will also be available as a special edition release. Not since the mid 70s and prog-rock has such lavishness been expended on the packaging. For £40 you get the download, the CD, the album as double 12" vinyl, another CD (b-sides? Out takes?) and a lavish box. Bypassing record labels and the like (though inevitably using the fulfilment services of that same record industry, rabid fans (and are there any other sort with Radiohead?) will be forking out the equivalent of 5 chart CDs for the physical product. You have to admire the two-way street here - its free (for the music) but a fortune (for the package.) Radiohead have been here before of course - Kid A and Amnesia was essentially a double album ripped apart to maximise income. Yet like a huckster in a temporary shop on Oxford Street, selling you something you don't want, with the promise of giving you a bargain, Radiohead will surely pull the wool over their fans eyes, so shocked to be given such short notice of the new album. The download is available in ten days, the package just in time for Christmas. It will be a beautiful thing, like an edition of McSweeneys, but they're the ones pricing the lavish package as a thing to die for (or fork out £40 for.) What I say is: Pay nothing. Make your own packaging.

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