Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Climb up the walls of (and disappear completely inside) the Radiohead Public Library digital archives

Illustration for article titled Climb up the walls of (and disappear completely inside) the Radiohead Public Library digital archives
Photo: Samir Hussein (Getty Images)

Radiohead is so beloved that just about everything surrounding the band’s album releases, from B-sides and interviews to rare performances of unrecorded songs, is pored over, collected, and endlessly discussed by its most obsessive fans. In the past, the group has been pretty strategic about what material it legitimizes, only rarely compiling older work or, in the rare event of something as substantial as an enormous leak of OK Computer outtakes, releasing unfinished audio. Now, despite going to sleep last night thinking there were no surprises in store for this morning (Mr. Magpie), daydreaming fans have awoken to a huge repository of songs, videos, and merchandise packt like sardines into a website called the Radiohead Public Library.

There’s far too much included to list in its entirety here, but as an example of what’s available: There’s Radiohead’s unused Bond theme song; a quality version of the From The Basement performances of The King Of Limbs and In Rainbows; uploads of music videos like the excellent “There There” and “Knives Out”; photo galleries; all sorts of broadcast concerts; and ancient tracks and live sets from the band’s very beginnings. As a press release details, the Library also includes “a number of previously unavailable Radiohead rarities” for streaming “and download, including the band’s 1992 debut, the Drill EP, “I Want None of This” from the 2005 charity compilation Help!: A Day in the Life, and the 2011 TKOL RMX 8 remix EP.”All of it is organized around each album’s release, running from the earliest days surrounding Pablo Honey right up to the present and Burn The Witch.

The same press release introduces the project by stating that “the internet as as a whole has never been a reliable resource for detailed or even accurate information re: Radiohead.” Rather than leave fans to content themselves with “random and/or abbreviated shards” consisting of “songs and album titles unaccompanied by detailed artwork or any additional context, low quality videos preceded by advertisements and shuffled via algorithms,” the Library exists to offer a “highly curated and organized archive of the band’s catalogue and corresponding visuals and various artifacts associated with each album.”


To celebrate the launch, each of the band’s members are going to “take a turn serving as librarian for a day beginning January 20 and ending January 24,” highlighting a few picks from the catalogue on social media. (So far, we have Colin Greenwood and Ed O’Brien’s contributions available.) To really cap off the archival imagery, the site also allows users to create a library card that they can presumably then print out and show to other people on the street to either mutual delight or complete and utter bafflement.

[via Consequence Of Sound]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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